Saturday, August 11, 2012


When Lizabee graduated from high school in June, there was a particular line in her superintendent's speech that we've quoted (and, okay, mocked) pretty regularly in the Farrow/Boyett household.
The woman, who I'm sure jotted down many well-meaning cliches that could apply equally to all the seniors in all the county high schools graduating that Saturday, said to the class of 2012: "Don't pass up any opportunities. Take every opportunity you're given."

Well, what a bunch of malarky. We've of course played many scenarios in which the rising college freshman is offered a ride home with a stranger, or the chance to try a "magic" pill (What Opportunites! YES YES YES!) and of course, these scenarios only get funnier each time we reenact them. (I say, if a roofie joke is funny once, it's funny every time.)

I'm particularly reminded of the superintendent's speech this week though, since, in the past month, I've turned down not one but two (semi-)legitimate "opportunities."

The first started at the mall when a girl at Cosmo Modeling Agency asked if I'd be interested in setting up an appointment to have headshots made. I told her sure and followed through with it, since there was no money or further commitment involved. After my pictures were taken at the studio the following week, I met with the director who gave me a spot for the five hour photo shoot the following Sunday, and then told me that as long as I could pay $475 up front, I could just pay $50 for the next two years to ensure that my portfolio stayed online.
Now wait, I said this was an opportunity, and it really could have been. I didn't take it, obviously, because it would cost as much as sponsoring two children through Compassion for the next two years. But there was a time in my life where all I wanted to do was be on stage or in front of a camera. There are still times that I miss acting so much it hurts. And this is the way that lots of local agencies, just like Cosmo, run their business and pay to promote their members. For those who are willing to commit to it, modeling can make some money.
I never, for a second, thought about pursuing this once I found out what it would cost out of pocket, but the greater opportunity here was an appeal to my vanity. It was the chance to be resentful that I couldn't afford to have my pictures featured on Cosmo's website and to question the goodness of my Creator: that he wouldn't make a way for this to work out in my favor. This sounds quite obviously vain and spoiled and prideful, so let me present my second opportunity.

If not an appeal to my vanity, what then? Oh, right, my academia. Or worse. My love of people, and particularly outcasts.

I got into University of Louisville's Masters of Arts program for English! Yay!
I did not get a teaching assistantship through the program. I still don't really know why. I really wanted tuition paid for, but more than that, I wanted to work in the writing center doing something I love full time.

Last week, I applied for a teaching assistantship with the U of L debate team, and I got offered the position without an interview! (Well, okay, first they said they didn't want me. And then they called back and said their first choice flaked so the position was mine. Don't let me fool you.)
So, tuition reimbursement: CHECK!
Small monthly stipend: CHECK!
Working with smart, passionate undergrads: CHECK!
Driving up to eight hours, often through the night: Check?!
Starting THIS MONDAY (two days from now). Check...
Being told, more than once, that the atmosphere may be hostile toward certain demographics (of which I am a member, eg: white and heterosexual). Check Check Check.

The last one actually made me want to do this more initially. People who have been ignored or mistreated by society? And they need me to prove I can rise above the White Christian Middle Class stereotype?! Well, okay. Sign me up. Let me share unconditional love that offers peace and redemption.
So, why did I turn this second opportunity down too? Because it wasn't my mission field to take on. It turns out, this appeal to my love of academics, social justice, and broken people was not for me. It wouldn't solve money problems. We'd still have to take out a loan for Ben's school, even if mine was paid. It might not solve time problems, since I'd still have to have a second job to cover anything other than living expenses. And honestly, as I sought God's face and his answer, I received a resounding answer: You are called to love the broken and the hurting and the outcast. But not in this way. Let the warning that you'll be lonely and often rejected in this capacity serve to protect you from future hurt and frustration.

But God, don't you call us to persecution? To rejection for your name's sake? Even to poverty so that we depend more fully and fervently on you? I know that the times I've seen your hand of mercy the clearest are the times when I'm most desperate for your help. And shouldn't I be looking for ways to love people that aren't like me, even when I'm uncomfortable?

I've got to say, I don't have answers to that. I know that all those things are true of God and of me as a Christian. I have often prayed that I would be ready to face persecution and wouldn't shy away from places where I know I'll be rejected or mocked. But, for whatever reason, God has chosen to keep me from this.

I suspect it's because he's providing for me right now and isn't done with where I'm at. And that's fine, because I don't think I'm done with it either.

What the superintendent should have said was: Many opportunities will present themselves. Feel free to be choosy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Family Was Here!

(This feels like the last day of calm before a storm that I can't size up.)

My mama and my Shannon Elizabee were just here! My daddy and my Jessie both needed to be home and I missed them, but it was so sweet to spend real time with two such wonderful women. It's the first time since we've moved here that I could relax with my family without agenda. I got to take them to some of my favorite places: Franklin Street Church and small group on Sunday, some shops on Bardstown where we got fabulous pictures (not yet uploaded), Queenie's for soul food and Tom + Chee for gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup. We even got in good we walked to Heine Bros. Coffee for breakfast and the Comfy Cow for ice cream!

(Here, my mother would like the reader to know that she ran every single morning and swam and even tried my silly weight machines. And that she didn't eat any ice cream.)

We discovered lots of new shops, went to see Batman (again), and shopped for curtain material. (Yes, my mother is amazing. My office has brand new curtains. Also, thanks Rachael for the sewing machine.)

It was actually a perfect way to spend three days, with just enough wandering and resting and enjoying one another without filling up the days too much. Though we did maybe spend too much time in JoAnn Fabrics. Now that they're gone, there's a silence I can actually feel.

The quiet in my apartment isn't strange like I thought it would be though. It's not a lazing, back to normal quiet. It feels much more like a silent rush. A push from behind, a pull toward an unknown future. It's the silent but startling realization that I have to start making decisions again about things that demand attention. This is August 2nd, and in 19 days, I'll be starting my first grad school class. Ben, who took a summer class this week, will have been back in school for three weeks by then. Mama has a kindergarten team meeting tomorrow. Shan moves to CNU in two weeks. Jess starts her last semester of undergrad. My family, here and states away, moves on.

The past three days have been such a respite from the things I have to do day-to-day. I have barely thought about work until now. I still don't know reliably how to get to my classes. I'm caught in the uncertainties of money and time and in the midst of it all, where are the plans my Father has laid out for me? The ones he has had since before the world began? Am I fulfilling them with all this dizzying uncertainty?

I get so sad when family leaves because I want to share all the parts of me with them, but today, it's possible that the sadness has another root as well. As long as the ones I love are close, I can shut out the upcoming uncertainties. I can devote my attention to something other than the stress that I know is impending. I can just stay still with them.

But the God I love, who is still close to me, is not a God of standing still. He's not a God of staying right where you are, even when you're in the shadow of His wings. He's a caring, sympathetic, comforting God, but He's not sentimental. He doesn't coddle. And He's ready for me to move on. To go forward and figure out what to do next. To keep moving, knowing that He'll keep the storm at bay for as long as He wills before moving with me through any driving rains He's ordained.

Okay God, thanks for this rest. Let's surge ahead.