Monday, December 14, 2015

December Madness

Life has been crazy hectic since the week of Thanksgiving. I touched on this somewhat in my previous post, which dealt with my post-Thanksgiving house hunting and job hunting. But that was only the beginning. Here are just some of the goings-on as of late:

I had my interview with a financing company on Friday, December 4th. I was interviewing to be a loan processor. Nothing glamorous, but the company seemed promising. I felt like the interview went really well, and those who interviewed me behaved in such a way that I felt incredibly confident about my chances. Nevertheless, I received a rejection email from them by Monday mid-afternoon. The nice thing is, I didn’t feel even a tiny hint of disappointment. Honestly. I was glad not to have to worry about it anymore, because I had another interview lined up for a job that I was even more excited about. I was happy to know I wouldn’t end up in a situation where I had a job offer but wanted to put it on hold while I waited on another possible offer.

On Sunday, December 6th, I taught Sunday school. That’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it always takes a decent amount of preparation. It’s not as easy to fake it or wing it in Community of Christ as it is in the LDS Church, simply because the approach to Sunday school is quite different. I’m not making a value judgment when I say that, by the way … although I can see how one might do so.

On Monday, December 7th, I had my two-hour penultimate training class for becoming an elder in Community of Christ. It was done via Skype, and I think it was the first and only class where I didn’t accidentally disconnect myself during the call or Skype session. That was nice.

On Tuesday, December 8th, I had a job interview for a position I was really feeling excited about. I still do feel some excitement about it, but I’m in the waiting stage now and so it’s kind out of my mind for the moment. I was told I wouldn’t hear back for a couple of weeks because they are doing so many interviews. Anyway, the interview itself didn’t go as well as I had hoped. The first half went okay, but I felt really displeased with how I answered a couple of questions at the end. Because of that, I walked away feeling like I had blown it and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed for a few days. I haven’t completely written off the job opportunity, in part because I know they are hiring at least 11 people. But I don’t know what to expect. Now that I’ve had some time away from worrying about it, I wonder how happy I would really be there. I feel like a whiner every time I talk about being happy in a job. “What makes you feel entitled to that?” I can hear people saying. “That’s a luxury few of us are afforded. Grow up and get used to it.” Yeah, well. Since leaving graduate school, I’ve felt more in touch with my own self and had moments when I feel like my true personality has been allowed to shine, and it’s horribly depressing to think of stuffing it back down into a box that rarely gets opened. Problem is, I have no idea what I can do in the here and now that would fit me. Lately, I wonder about being a librarian. I think interacting with the public is something I would enjoy, and I like libraries. That seems like a winning combination, assuming my interactions with the public would be more positive than not. And I think that, at a library, they would be. Not that I know of any library openings right now. I’m just trying to find that delicate balance between fantasy and reality. A library job seems feasible and yet appealing.

Moving on, Wednesday, December 9th was crazy busy. I had my final class to become an elder, and it lasted three hours. We went over the various sacraments within Community of Christ, which was really neat. I’m familiar with them already, but it was rewarding to spend some focused time on them. There are a few minor differences with how things are done in Community of Christ compared to the LDS Church, and some of them I quite like. For example, I quite like that consecrated oil is used whenever you perform the sacrament of administration (or what LDS folks would simply refer to as giving a blessing). In the LDS Church, you use consecrated oil only when a person is sick. In Community of Christ, you would use oil even if you’re giving what LDS folks would call a blessing of comfort or of guidance. I like ritual and symbolism, so I think this makes it powerful. On the other hand, there are differences that won’t feel as natural to me. In Community of Christ, the person receiving a sacrament (or blessing) is not addressed directly, except maybe very momentarily at the beginning. In the LDS tradition, the bulk of a blessing would be directed to the one receiving it, speaking to that person rather than to God. In Community of Christ, the blessing is directed toward God. I can see how that makes sense, given that blessings are treated like a prayer (concluding with an “amen,” for example), but I like the intimacy of speaking to the one being blessed. Not that I can’t do it however I want in my own home or whatever.

After my elder class, I hurried to meet a friend for lunch. I haven’t seen this friend in years. He has only returned to Utah somewhat recently, but apparently he has followed my blog and knows much about my life. That’s always a little strange. I honestly assume nobody reads my blog, other than my sister once in a while and my mom once in a really long while. Anyway, he reached out to me because he’s had his own issues or questions or thoughts or what have you about religion. I’m really flattered when people reach out to me about this stuff. It’s happened quite a bit in the last few years, and it’s honestly a form of ministry (if you want to call it that) that I care a great deal about. If my friend is reading this, he may be scoffing a bit because it’s not like I said anything useful to him at lunch. I’m not pretending to be humble, either. I really didn’t say much to him. I shared a little bit about my own journey, but mostly I was just trying to listen. Especially if I haven’t talked a lot to someone about this kind of stuff, I feel uncomfortable saying very much to that person. I don’t want to intrude on their spiritual journey. I’m also kind of hyper-paranoid about people assuming I have an agenda. I know I’ve had my moments when I’ve complained about the LDS Church or LDS culture, but my goal is not to get people to leave the LDS Church. I just want people to be happy and healthy. And I want those who hurt to feel comforted. And if I can facilitate that in any manner whatsoever, however minor it may be, I consider it a great honor. It is a path to which I feel called, and I pray that God will make me more and more capable of serving in that capacity.

My Wednesday shenanigans did not end with a lunch date. That evening, I had a pastorate meeting with those who will be serving on the SLC congregation pastorate in 2016. The meeting was in American Fork, which is about 20 minutes away. I was almost 30 minutes late. I didn’t know where I was going and am not hip enough to have any sort of GPS, so you can imagine how easily this situation turned into a disaster. I get tired of being the incompetent one of the group, but oh well.

Thursday is when all of my plans for the week started to go to pot. My health started going downhill, but it wasn’t until Friday that it dawned on me I probably had strep throat. Turns out I am not immune after all. Bummer. But the bigger bummer is that I had to miss out on two very special events. Sort of. (I’ll explain the “sort of” in a moment.) The first event I missed was participating in an on-camera interview being conducted by Community of Christ Apostle (and President of the Council of the Twelve) Linda Booth. I’ve known for quite some time that Community of Christ wanted to record interviews with those of us in the SLC congregation to learn more about our faith journeys. The SLC congregation has experienced such rapid growth in the last two years that it’s garnered the attention of the World Church (or the senior leadership headquartered in Independence, Missouri). They wanted to learn more about what’s happening, and the interviews will likely be used in future promotional videos for the church. Because I am part of (and, at this point, among the first to come into) the booming SLC congregation, I really wanted to be involved in this project. It was important to me, and I’ve looked forward to it for a long time. Melanie and I had an interview time scheduled for Friday night, but I couldn’t go. I wasn’t well enough. Melanie had to go without me. That saddened me.

The second event I had to miss was the baptism of one of our SLC congregants. That’s disappointing in and of itself, but this person had asked me to give his baptismal charge. (To put it simply, a baptismal charge is a talk or sermon that precedes a person’s baptism and is directed largely to that individual as he/she enters into the baptismal covenant.) I was very flattered that this person asked me to do so, and it felt tragic to cancel on him. Not because I think I’m special, but because he had asked me to do it and I failed him. It wasn’t my fault, but that didn’t matter. I still felt really depressed about it. I had been working on the baptismal charge and felt really good about where it was headed. So, it was all quite sad. I guess I can only say that so many times. The one tiny glimmer of a silver lining is that, because I was feeling so crappy, once I canceled on the interview and the baptism, I could finally get some rest. I had resisted canceling in the hopes that I would pull through, and that meant I kept working on things even when I felt like garbage. The second I let go of these things, I crashed.

Having gone to an instant care type of facility on Saturday morning and starting my antibiotics, I felt up to the challenge of showing up to church at 8:30 AM on Sunday so I could participate in the filmed interviews after all. I wasn’t sure I’d feel up to it, but I’m really glad I did it. It’s funny, being interviewed on camera talking about Community of Christ did not make me nervous. Job interviews are much, much worse. Naturally, once the interview was over, I thought of things I wish I had said and I thought of better ways to express some of the things I had shared. But overall, I felt quite good about the interview, and I got the sense that Linda was also very pleased with it. After the interview, I was given the opportunity to receive an apostolic blessing from Linda, which I happily accepted. It was a very pleasant experience. Whenever I am privileged to interact with ministers who are so genuinely loving and sincere, I can’t help but feel that renewed sense of calling. This is the kind of work I want to do. It really is, as much as I fear my own inadequacies. It has nothing to do with the positions these people hold. It is not because they are apostles and thus rank highly within some ecclesiastical hierarchy. That really is beside the point. Fawning over church leaders is not really a thing in Community of Christ, and I am so grateful for that. I’ve been amazed at the humility that even the “highest” ranking church leaders possess. It is beautiful. I truly see them striving to be the Lord’s hands on earth, and I want to do the same. It is inspiring.

And that brings us to today, Monday the 14th. I had looked forward to today as the first day when not much would be on my agenda. Then it snowed like crazy mad and I spent three hours taking Melanie and the boys to school and getting back home, usually a 30-minute round trip. I do not enjoy this outrageous winter weather. We were spared such things last year, so this was the first time I’ve had to regret moving back to Utah on account of the weather. I knew it would happen eventually. The snow is supposed to continue at an outrageous pace through tomorrow, but Melanie will have to brave it alone. That worries me, but it doesn’t make sense for me to have to drive back and forth twice when she can do it once. Creegan’s preschool is canceled for tomorrow, so there’s no sense in me going along for the ride. I wish today had been more relaxed, but at least I’m alive.

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