Thursday, February 23, 2012

Learning to Juggle

Most days, I wake up grouchy at the alarm that dared wake me at 5:30 am, a full 3 hours before there will be daylight in these winter months.  By the time I make it to the bus, though, it has usually hit me that I am up at this rather unholy hour because I am finally in nursing school.  Eight weeks into the program, that still amazes me almost every day.

It has not, by any means, been a bump free transition from the year and a half of working and waiting, and the month off over the Christmas holidays, to the daily schedule of student life.  If you ask me to describe the more, umm, creative learning activities, I'll preface them with a statement that begins, "I think we were supposed to learn..."  The fact that I am paying thousands of dollars each semester in tuition and must preface my descriptions of learning activities in such a manner is, well, a point of tension in my life to say the least.  The fact that these activities regularly resemble junior high social studies class?  Well that's definitely the icing on the cake.

Most days, though, if I stop for a few minutes, and sit quietly on the bus at the end of the day, I go back to the amazement that marked my mornings.  The slightly stunned feeling that after a year and a half of waiting, of risking my heart hurting by longing for this, it's happening!  I am learning things like administering vaccinations, and taking blood pressure readings.  Granted, the method of learning might sometimes include a slightly twisted version of charades (read: my idea of hell), but I'm learning!

I've been thinking about all of this this week, while I'm at home, reading, doing homework, and preparing to dive back in to the second half of the semester.  I've been thinking about all sorts of things that deserve (and will eventually get) posts of their own.  Things like longing and fulfilment, like coming into my own skin, like this odd new voice that sometimes leaps out from inside of me and begins to speak.

But this week I'm particularly thinking about school, and about my one word for the year, still.  I'm thinking about how I sometimes feel resentment about my school schedule, and the demands that it places on my introverted self.  How I resent the decisions and prioritizing that it forces.

I was thinking about it yesterday as I contemplated the merits of silence, versus the desire to catch up on some favorite television shows.  I thought about it as I pondered sitting in stillness versus doing some homework, and doing that homework versus catching up on my friends in bloggyland, whose writing I've fallen hopelessly behind on once again.  I was thinking about it as I pondered the dozens of times I've had to consider whether or not I could say yes to an invitation from close friends, knowing that I need to conserve the energy that time with people requires of me, so that I can make it through a week of classes and the hours and hours of group work each day.

I don't like being forced to choose, to prioritize.  I want it all.  I want to be in school, but still have ample time for quiet and stillness.  I want to have the stillness, but stay caught up on my favorite blogs and television shows.  I want to be with my closest friends unfettered, without having to consider that saying no to them just might be the way I make it through to Friday without melting into a puddle of tears at the end of the day.

It's fascinating to me how different it is to live in the reality of something, rather than my idealized expectations of it.  I didn't think about the demands that nursing school would place on me.  I just followed my heart into the direction it felt Jesus leading.  I didn't think about the challenge of the word "still" as I headed into a year where my schedule would be more full than it has been in the last five years, I just followed that Jesus voice inside me again.  And reality is different than ideal.  It's more explored, and it comes with tensions and tradeoffs.  It comes with its own beauties, and its own raw places.

And so it was that yesterday I juggled.  I watched a little bit of TV, did some homework, and sat for a bit in quiet.  I lit a few candles and tried to let my heart lead the way, asking myself and Jesus continuously what it was that I needed in that moment.  Did I need to write?  Could I do that with something playing in the background, or did my heart crave silence?  Could I head out to see some extra people, or do some errands, or did I need to sit quietly at home?  It's new to me, this juggling, this sitting in this particular tension that comes between the reality of two callings in my heart - one to the demands of school, and one to my word and to stillness.  And so I juggle, and I learn the importance of checking in regularly with myself and with Jesus.  And slowly, oh so slowly, even when sometimes it looks like acknowledging that I feel just a bit resentful over these forced choices, I am making my way forward.


christianne said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, Lisa. I love hearing about your life and the things you are thinking about and holding.

While reading this, I had an image of a telephone wire, across which you were having to walk. You had to stay present in the exact moment of right now -- not looking to the right or left or up ahead -- in order to stay, well, still. Balanced.

That's what I heard in the day you described at the end: asking God in each moment what was the real need of the moment. Even though it is a juggling act, that living in the exact right-now moment also provides a bit of stillness in a different kind of way. Maybe?

Lisa said...

I think this is quite insightful, Christianne. That balancing act - high wire walking - is exactly what I was picturing as I wrote this.

And yes, there is a certain stillness in the exact right-now living that this current life is demanding of me. A need to be present in a way that demands stillness to maintain that balance. And it's a unique lesson to be learning and journey to be walking.