Fear and Grace
[Part 9 in Liz’s story of God’s calling her into inner city behavioral health care]
For my undergraduate graduation, my college ministry group gave me a copy of When People are Big, and God is Small by Ed Welch. I took a look at the description on the back cover, which talks about people-pleasing and living for the approval of others, and tucked the book away on my book shelf with the thought that it may be a helpful book for me to pass on to someone else someday.
I still chuckle when I think about my self-delusional, optimistic evaluation of my own heart’s motives! Big transitions or decisions points often bring my people-idolizing tendencies to the surface of my free thoughts. So after setting a date to visit the health center, I was not surprised by the sudden onset of anxious and hopeful future fantasies that focused on me earning the approval of key leaders during my visit there. Nor was I caught off guard by the see-saw of emotions from excitement over what God seemed to be unfolding to fear of rejection or disappointment.
I am very thankful for the patience of many friends, who handled my anxious questions about typical medical interviews with grace and tact. “Just be yourself,” one laughed at me, “and they’ll love you.” “Don’t worry,” counseled another, “but everyone you talk to will likely evaluate you.”
Ugh. Here I needed a different flavor of daily grace: the grace to forget myself and focus on loving the people I met. Or maybe this is just another variation on the prayer to not try to figure out the infinite (number of possible conversations I could have with all the different key players) but to spend myself in love.
Again, God provided this daily grace in an unusual way—I never had an interview during my trip in March. I participated in interviewing two other candidates, discussed ministry and counseling models, ate barbecue, shadowed Tim, started working through various counseling interventions, attended a small group Bible study potluck, participated in neighborhood girls’ night, played with Tim’s children and pets, drank coffee and talked with his wife, and never interviewed.
Remembering the trip still makes me laugh. I was anticipating pulling out my references in defense of my character, education, and practice. I had been coached in how to answer potentially tricky questions. I had reviewed data on the health center, including memorizing the names of residents so that I could talk with them.
And instead of life unfolding according to my plans and preparations, God’s sovereign grace leveled those. Ephesians 2:10, which I had been sharing with one of my counselees, spoke to me in fresh ways: I was created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand for me to walk in them. Duh! My life is about God’s grace to us in Christ, not my own merit! So any answers to my prayers for clarity regarding the puzzle pieces of my life will also be a gift of his grace, to be received with thankful joy and firm resolve to walk in the path he lays out for me.
And this path would involve more waiting, since Tim could not hire people for another estimated 4–6 weeks, which would be the middle-end of April. And I was working three jobs, including two counseling jobs that required 6–8 weeks of notice before leaving.
How do I faithfully fulfill my commitments to my current counselees and agencies and be free to move when a position opens up? Like a trapeze flyer, could I let go of current jobs before having a firm offer?
(photo found on this website: http://theremedy4u.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/being-caught/)