Confession: I got a little carried away today. 😀
Early this morning (well, I guess actually yesterday at this point), a regular customer asked me if I had my ticket yet. Ticket? Am I going on a trip I don’t know about? He clarified that he was talking about the lottery (didn’t say which game, I looked it up later) and how the jackpot was unbelievably high. Um, okay.
Not only had I never played the lottery, I’d never really even considered it. Okay, maybe once or twice I’ve thought “ha, yeah, that would be nice” and dreamed a bit about what I’d do with the money. Mostly pay off school loans. (Same with quiz shows, which I do actually think of playing.) And lately I’ve had a pretty big preoccupation with money (more on that in a bit). It seemed like a weird coincidence and so I started thinking about it, but ultimately talked myself out of it.
Then I talked to my husband about it, knowing that he would laugh it off and tell me it was ridiculous to play the lottery. That’s kind of how he is. But instead he did the math and said statistically it’s sort of worth it to play at that value, I don’t really know why. But at any rate, that was too much of a coincidence for me. It’s like the universe is telling me I have to play! What if I ignore it and all the numbers are exactly what I would have picked!? I would feel so bad for ignoring the universe.
So I got my first ever lotto tickets (one with chosen numbers, one random)…and started dreaming. Now, it’s not like I want a lot. Pretty immediately after I started thinking about where to spend it I started thinking about all the donations I’d want to make and started to panic at how many there are. That much money is actually kind of scary! Like I’d feel like I have to find a way to give to everyone and I’d always feel guilty about it. I actually started to hope I wouldn’t win. But I did also start looking at some nice houses (I do that anyway, I love shows about houses and real estate) and think about what I could do in terms of career.
I’ve been looking at religious education, which I’ve discussed here a bit. I still want to do that, but maybe not just that? What I’d really like is something I’m calling a “community development minister” in my head, a mix of religious education, community events, and reaching out to parts of the community that can’t come to church. I think religious education looked to me like the closest to that I could afford. Once I thought about having more money than I could spend, my first thought was that I could afford the ordination requirements that make me the most anxious, and it wouldn’t matter if I could find a job doing that because I could afford to do it for free.
I was recently asked why I’m wasting my time, which threw me more than I want to admit and made me think about whether I should even be alive if I’m not going to do anything worthwhile. It’s weird how much damage people can do when they think they’re giving you a compliment. You never know where people’s insecurities are. I don’t say that to make anyone feel guilty, and it’s not something that’s only happened once. It’s a comment I get a lot from quite a few people who know me, and it always hurts. This one just came at a bad time. Mostly I share it to give context and also maybe to make people think about what they say and how it might be taken by someone in a bad situation.
But the most important part is that thinking about it made me realize I am doing something worthwhile and that only I get to decide what success looks like in my life. Part of why I’m doing this blog and the videos (other than that I love blogging) is so that I can get more experience in areas where I know I’m weak. I need to be more comfortable sharing my thoughts even when I think they’re uninteresting or childish. I need to get used to the sound of my own voice before I can really feel comfortable speaking to large groups of strangers. And although I feel I was good at writing sermons before, I’m out of practice and need to re-learn how to do that, especially in a UU context and as part of a worship service. (The latter has been on my mind a lot lately and will likely be discussed here soon.)
A lot of my classmates were older, already had experience in work and in ministry. They were just there to get the required education for what they already knew they wanted to do. I was at seminary for education, a lifelong student at that point, with only a vague idea where I was going with it. Even the people closer to my age had pretty much known they were going to be pastors and had experience leading or even teaching in church. I had no experience, coming from a very different tradition where I was discouraged from leadership, and frequently felt a little (or a lot) out of my depth.
That got a lot better during my time at seminary, and it’s still getting better, but I’ll admit I’m also still not sure I’m ready to be a minister. I need to be involved with a church, ask if I can teach a class or lead a group for awhile, see how I do at that. I need to experience myself as a leader, something that’s never happened before. And in the meantime, things like working in a retail position and having to talk to people all the time have also been a big help, even if it’s also frustrating. Soon after I became a cashier, my husband commented that I was a lot louder and more comfortable speaking with strangers in public even off the clock. I’d attributed the ease of discussion at work to having a script, but the skills carried over and I’m better at unscripted conversation now too. I’d even say I like it.
None of my time has been wasted. Well, maybe some. I could probably stand to spend a lot less time worrying, and I’m working on it. But not working in the job I want right now doesn’t mean I’m failing. It means I’m a little behind and I’m doing what I can to build my skills so I can do well at it. The goal is to be confident and useful in whatever I do, not rush to where I think I should be or compare myself to former classmates.
So I’m not going to rush. But the realization that if I wasn’t worried about money I’d head straight for ordination means something. At the very least, it means I should talk to some people who have been through the process or are going through it now, figure out how much things like CPE and a career assessment actually cost, try to think of ways to budget for that. Find out if I can do an internship and CPE (separately, not all at once) while also holding another job so I don’t have to worry about money and whether I have to choose between a career or kids. I may not be ready now, but I owe it to myself to consider the options seriously and decide where I’m heading.
(In case you’re wondering, my first and probably last lotto attempt was a bust: not a single matched number! Ah well, it was an adventure. I had fun taking a walk after work and meeting new people. And it clearly gave me a lot to think about.)
(Also, in anticipation of anyone telling me gambling is bad or ministers shouldn’t gamble: …Yeah, okay. I thought about not posting this, but want to be honest. Immediately after I started thinking about that much money, really more than I can even conceptualize, I started to think winning would be worse and that I’d made a mistake. The important thing was that this was the first time “what would you do with a million dollars” questions actually made sense to me. So I got carried away by the idea of a ridiculous amount of money (seriously, how does that even exist in the world, let alone potentially go to one person?), but something good came out of it.)