I am lost and need direction. I've been putting this one off for some time because it is not easy to ask for help. I will not ask for directions when I travel. When my husband does, I am embarrassed and annoyed and pretend not to know him. I will not ask for help of sales clerks in stores and when they ask if I need assistance (perhaps because they see me wandering fruitlessly in the store with an expression of confusion and bewilderment) I usually refuse their help and though I try not to show it, I am irritated by their question. Help is intrusive. It is demeaning. It tells me that I am not self-sufficient.
But I am not self-sufficient. *sigh* So I am asking for help.
Since I was thirteen, when I received my calling to ministry (an event which will remain undiscussed in this entry), I've been preparing myself. This means that for the past many years (the number of years will also remain undiscussed) I have been spending a good portion of my time engaged in the study of religion and spirituality. I kept a picture of the seminary I intended to attend with me in my bedroom where I studied from volumes borrowed from my father's library. I took the photo with me to undergraduate school where I focused on the study of women in history and religion.
After graduation,despite the fact that I was no longer calling myself a Christian, I finally enrolled in seminary where I received what I have considered a direction change. Following that leading, I dropped out of seminary and began a graduate program in which I studied art history, the psychology of religion, religious history, and feminist theory as components of an interdisciplinary degree in feminist spirituality.
As you can well-imagine, this graduate program did not prepare me for employment! Still, I remained obedient to the directions of the calling and faithful to the idea that in time, I would find an opening for my service. I considered that (contrary to the evidence of this rambling blog) I had a skill and passion for writing. Having begun practicing writing as a means of revelation and self-expression from the age of seven, I decided that it was very likely the vehicle through which my calling would be answered. I also decided that given my passion for scholarly pursuits, I should continue my studies in a doctoral program which, I believed, would serve to legitimize my writing in the publishing world.
I enrolled in a doctoral program requiring interdisciplinary study. My own individualized program combined studies in history, religion studies, and feminist theory. While engaged in that program, I began to give public presentations in historical costume in which I spoke of the religious and feminist history of the region in which I live (the Burned-Over District). I also began teaching history classes at a community college and found the experience to be variously rewarding and infuriating as one might expect.
After graduation from my doctoral program (was it nearly two years ago now?) I find myself frustrated at my inability to fulfill my promises of service.
This is what I know:
1. I am called to serve through my gifts. Especially I am called to serve the cause of empowering women and men to work toward peace with each other and our environment.
2. I am a writer. I feel the need to write almost as I feel the need for food or rest or air.
3. I adore public speaking. It is the only time (apart from time with my family and a very few long term friends) that I feel comfortable among other people. I do, however, find that while the rush of speaking to groups is addictive, prolonged or frequent engagement in public speaking makes me depressed, exhausted and physically ill
4. My tools and subject matter when speaking or writing are religion studies, history, and feminist theory (especially feminist theology and eco-feminism).
5. I am happiest when home with my children, husband, sister and parents. I am a homemaker by choice and a college professor out of necessity.
This is what I don't know.
1. How to publish my work.
2. How to reach the people I am supposed to reach.
3. Who those people are.
4. What I'm supposed to write next or what I'm supposed to do next.
Every single day, I struggle with this. I meditate, pray, and reflect. I consult my dreams, devotionals,and divination tools to try to tease my brain into deeper, more productive reflection. I look at the question emotionally, rationally, and practically. But I get nowhere. I'm almost frantic over my inability to move forward and for the past several months the stress of my failure has resulted in anxiety attacks, bouts of depression, migraines, and chronic abdominal pain.
I need help.