Choices, Choices, Choices

May 9, 2014

A week has gone by without a blog-post . . . I know that causes some of my readers to worry; but no need to be concerned! I have been feeling so good this week that I have concentrated on getting errands and chores done, probably overdoing it once or twice. Life is truly getting back to normal and I can see real, measurable progress in my abilities.

It is a wonderful thing to wake up every single morning, happy to be alive and grateful to God for energy and purpose. I am circulating among friends again, some of whom haven’t seen me in ages, and the greetings are joyful opportunities to give praise for the marvelous things God has done. Surely, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” And my gift to you today: the link to John Rutter’s wonderful choral setting of that Scripture as sung by the Westminster Choir on the occasion of Will and Kate’s wedding a few years back.

I left off a week ago with the question of which prior commitments shall I maintain and which shall I withdraw, now that I have the freedom to lean into a new phase of life healthy and cancer-free. I had listed as possibilities my professional commitments in ministry and activism, but I failed to acknowledge the obvious commitments to my husband and my grown children. Those covenants are the foundation and frame of the life God has called me to lead. Active parenting is not nearly as time consuming as it was thirty years ago, but interactions with my daughters through their own achievements, disappointments, and challenges is fulfilling. Walking alongside my husband is the steady commitment still going strong after 39 years of marriage. And we can always hope that someday we will be grandparents lovingly involved in the lives of the next generation.

In light of that observation, I have been asked whether one of my options at this time is retirement. It is a joke in our family—don’t say the “R” word in this house! Andy has been working steadily for 39 years (just one sabbatical in 2004) and may dream of fly fishing and world travel now and then, but sometimes I still feel as though I have hardly accomplished anything lasting and still have a contribution to make “out there.” I am only sixty years old (for another month), now healthy and enthusiastic, and still have dreams and visions for ministry. But those aspirations are reshaping even as we speak, because my cancer half-year has given me lots of reasons to think through my calling from here on out.

So, do I go back to all the previous professional commitments I had made and pick up where I left off? Do I eliminate them all and start completely over? Or do I pick one or two and leave the rest? I have elected to evaluate each involvement individually and to look at my life holistically from a spiritual gifts perspective. What I mean by that is this: holistic, as an integrated person with just one life to live, and respectful of the gifts God has given me that can be used for his purposes, I have the grand opportunity to order my life anew. In answer:

1. Going back to life exactly as it was a year ago is not an option; I’m a new person.

2. BC[1], there were significant activities that bore fruit, and AD this pruning can yield much fruit again (John 15) by judiciously retaining those involvements that feed me and/or feed others spiritually.

3. It is time to set one professional priority for my life’s work around which the other activities flow.

Next post: A look at my spiritual gifts and how they might direct my choices.

[1] BC = “before cancer” and AD = “after diagnosis”

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