Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

February 23, 2008

Time to Update

I don't know if the main reasons I've avoided this is disobedience, pain, sleepiness, or some kind of closure I don't want to start, but here goes.

I have been on FMLA (a government program called Federal Medical Leave Act) at a part-time level for quite a while now. This is something that my job provides as a means of both protecting my job and also limiting me from the length of time that I can be paid without showing up! I'm sure that many of you are aware of this legal system. In my situation, I am allowed a certain number of hours during which I receive 60% of my payment, even when I'm missing due to illness time that I've already used up after regular sick time. But when THAT time is gone, then I have to move to full time disability, and my job is in effect "terminated", which makes lots of sense for the college since otherwise I would simply continue to be absent, even though I'd love to keep working, and despite that fact that I can't seem to keep working more than little bits.

The true situation is that I reached that point during this week, and after 21 years, am formally no longer working for Wheaton College. There are many positive ways that Wheaton is handling this for me that remain -- I continue to receive a salary of 60% of my normal pay (amazing) and full health insurance benefit (along with some other benefits). There are lots of details to be resolved that Margie and a good college friend of mine are working together on, and we are blessed. At the same time, this is not a simple situation, and I am in a bit of shock, I'd say.

How is this affecting me? I am somewhat overwhelmed, since it will reduce the regularity of my connections to people that I have known and loved for many years (and didn't expect this to happen so soon). I just went into my office this late afternoon (Saturday), and began the farewell process with prayer and letting go of the space. Actually, I've already taken the artwork and plants from the place that my parents recently helped me hang (with their help also!), with another form of "adieu." And I'm sure that thanks to the College's hospitality, I'll get to say farewell at some other moments upcoming. Nonetheless, this is a place no longer tied to my "identity", and I am in the process of listening to God in order to more accurately hear his will for my future.

A close friend of mine, Mario Bergner, has joined others in counseling me with a suggestion that I think I have somehow had as an instinct for a longtime also, but which is quite scary. That is that I have the possibility of growing in maturity and ministry beyond Wheaton, but would never have done so without this kind of "kick out of the nest", so to speak. I'm not completely sure why this be would certain, but I know that I have questioned at times whether I could have ended my life contendedly by serving the job I had. That is no disrespect for the importance of the Head of Music Librarianship, nor for Head of Public Services, nor for the Head of Collection Development -- all positions that I held over the last 21 years. Nor was it a sense that I was being disobedient or a failure to God in my work. I grew and learned through all of those years, thanks be to God. But it is now that in this season of life, I have had to find a way to step forward, that this is also a time of near panic for me.

How to do this from a place of such weekness and illness, how to trust in the goodness of God, the heavenly Father? How to release the shooting tension of pain that can grab me down my legs and demand radiation from my attempts to sit, lie down, walk, etc. -- does God still desire that I live and be a blessing for others? Can I be certain of my own adequacy as a believer when I catch another glimpse of my own failings (narcisisstic, humorless, groaning whiner) when the only thing I struggle to do is to release my sins to Jesus and precisely admit that very thing? It is then that I am over and over showered with love from friends such as yourselves. So many of you tell me that the Holy Spirit has united us together in worship or joined us in unity amongst the saints, and then I am quieted and my heart softens and my body also rests. Thank you beyond expression for those words of encouragement. I have lists of those of you whom I look forward to writing to, either via e-mail, or, better, by actual card! (Or perhaps, someday, we'll see each other in this life also!)

One thing I do continue to hear from so many, and to find echoing in my ears, is that my time is not yet over yet. May the words of the Peter the Apostle serve as encouragement: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him the be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 5:8-11.

In His love,