September 16, 2013

adventure guilt!

Well, we've done it. We've gone and moved ourselves to Scotland.

I've probably never questioned my sanity as much as I have in the last week. Do normal people do this? Do smart people do this? Do wise people do this? Does a couple, where one individual is busting it through seminary and the other is busting it in the workplace to help pay for seminary, typically give up a steady job to cross the Atlantic and do the complete opposite of what a sensible and bank account-saavy couple would do?

No, I say without a doubt that this is not typical. But I do say that this is an adventure. And I do say that I won't regret this, even though I've experienced multiple heart-into-stomach moments and late-night tossing and early-morning brain scrambles.

What are brain scrambles, you ask? Well, plan a move to Scotland with five weeks notice, then you'll know what brain scrambles are.

As a brief explanation: Wayne loves the English Puritans and loves to do research and loves to write, so much so that he wrote a research proposal and sent it off to a purveyor of Puritan knowledge at a university and that kindly professor said, Wayne, do come over and continue your research and writing here!

So we said, Tally ho! Hurrah!

Well, not really. I came home from work one day in April and Wayne took me by the shoulders and said, Suzanne, we're moving to Scotland! in a sort of awed-mixed-with-panic-mixed-with-delight voice. I said yeah right. He said, no really. I said yikes, we should probably find somewhere to live.

Panic ensued! Well, not quite panic. I suppose it was more like quiet desperation. Fortunately an incredible sublet opportunity came up, along with affordable flight tickets after some late-night week-long searching. Clearly we were excited about this opportunity! Who wouldn't be?

As always, though, there are things that dull the excitement. My own guilt, for one thing. People acceptable to the American work-yourself-to-the-bone culture don't go off gallivanting to the UK to spend money rather than earn it -- at least not without reasonable cause. Yes, Wayne is doing research and writing, but Suzanne -- what are you doing?

Ah yes, therein lies the rub. This question was asked of me more times than I can count. The majority of the time it was asked with sincere interest and kindly intention. I'm not so blind to the character of people, however, that I cannot gauge in which sense a question is asked. There were times when I was asked this question and there was a weird sort of tone to it -- a pushiness that demanded a firm, conclusive and acceptable-to-society answer -- which wasn't the answer I was ever able to give.

My answer? I'm going to do art. I'm going to write. I'm going to explore and be outside and make sure Wayne eats dinner and have as beautiful a time as I can with the slim budget that we've set. I'm going to do the things I love to do that I never have much time to do otherwise. We won't be here for very long -- and after this, let's be honest -- the life of a couple in ministry isn't all tea cakes and pink lemonade.

But there's still that nasty soul-eating guilt. That disapproving smirk that lasts for a shadow of a nanosecond on the face of a person who asks for an explanation. That moment of panic when I remember how completely and fully unemployed I am, and therefore useless to society.

So yes, I hope to work on my art. I hope to draw into reality those images that have been incubating in the creative chunk of my brain for the last several months. I hope to write hundreds of words -- whether anyone actually reads them all is beside the point. But more than any of this, I hope to gain some much-needed practice in not caring. We've all got a touch of fear of man issues, and I've certainly got my fair share. So -- no more caring about who thinks what about our insanity. Our time here is a beautiful gift, not a guilt trip. I'll make it. I've just got to put my galoshes on and get going.

{This post written in May 2013}


  1. This sounds like such a beautiful adventure!

  2. I know this guilt thing ... happens every summer when we head off to AK. Everyone knows Gerry does consulting, so they ask me what I'll be doing: ummmmm, reading? Keeping house/soul/mind/body together? Thinking about and reading through music for the choir season? Keeping up with visitors? Sure, all that, but what am I ACCOMPLISHING? This summer was our tenth at the Moose River cabin and I'm close to guiltless about not really DOING anything. It has taken a while, but I honestly believe God gives us seasons -- we need to be alert to know when we're in a "useless to society" season and celebrate it: not everything blessed and growth inducing can be measured by hours put in or dollars earned. I salute your much needed practice in not caring what others say or think -- hope you were able to celebrate your Scotland season fully!

    1. Thanks Jan -- glad you can identify! :) Think it's so unfortunate that the definition of accomplishment has morphed into requiring some type of concrete physical result (via hours put in or dollars earned!), and often we're the ones who put this expectation on ourselves. Makes me wonder if this culture of accomplishment is partially responsible for the slow death of spiritual disciplines like meditation... we don't know how to just sit and let God work on us instead of us always working away at trying to fix ourselves and coming to a result we're satisfied with...

      I completely embraced my Scotland season -- it was much easier to do once we were settled in over there! And you'll be happy to know that it was many of the kind folk at Shawnee Park who encouraged me to let those expectations go and just rest... good wisdom!

  3. I for one am sooooo happy to hear this! Yea! Suzy, you are a gifted artist! I think it's fantastic, and I for one can't wait to see what you will be sharing. I still say, you need to Sell your stuff. Cards? Pictures? Etsy?
    I love that you are just being, and enjoying each moment! Savor it all :)

    1. Thanks!! Maybe I'll eventually get around to figuring out how to sell my stuff... :)