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The Coming Season

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

I shut my computer with a snap and a sigh. I knew the application deadline passed a few days prior, but seeing it in black and white felt like reading the death announcement of my dreams. It was my own fault; I waffled for months over my decision to apply to this particular MFA program. I made lists of pros and cons, asked everyone—short of my mailman—their opinion, and badgered my husband with what-if scenarios.

Much to my husband’s chagrin, the what-if’s usually emerged around 11pm. What if I don’t apply and I waste another year of my life, my energy, or my potential? What if I do apply and graduate school becomes a nightmare, a drain on our bank account, or worse, they reject me—final proof that I really am an untalented hack? He listened with sympathy the first thirty or so times I posed the same questions, and when I refused to take his advice, he gave up.

The deadline passed.

Another year, and another opportunity for career growth gone. I wondered if, by waiting, I threw my lot in with the last servant described in Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Talents. When given money to invest from his employer, this servant chose to bury it for fear he would fail his master. He hid the potential of this monetary gift, while the other servants invested wisely. His fear led to inertia, to burial, to failure.

My husband told me, “Just do it. Apply, and see if an opportunity follows.” Three years prior, I offered him the same advice when he considered entering an executive MBA program. He possessed the wisdom to apply, but also the heart to follow through and complete the twenty-month program. He invested in his future, whereas, I dug a hole in the ground and threw my dream into it.

Over the course of those twenty long months, my children and I lived in Switzerland, while my husband flew regularly between universities in London and New York. He decided on a dual degree, earned from two schools on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. He took every opportunity at his disposal. He invested his time, energy, and talents into a demanding program that ultimately meant progression for his career.

His schooling required sacrifice on his part and on ours. I single-parented a lot, spending weeks alone in a foreign country with our three kids, while he spent nights studying in hotel rooms in a separate corner of the globe. The daily highs and lows of life abroad became something we cut down into bite-size chatter, conveniently made to fit into conflicting time zones and short text messages. He missed recitals and performances and games. He missed our son’s pranks, the latest middle school drama, and countless dishes of my baked chicken.

We missed him.

We agreed to this insane schedule because we knew it would last only for a season. Three years later, I look back and know we were right. A season of sowing always comes before a season of reaping.

It is difficult to look with clear eyes at the conflict between my roles of wife, mother, and writer. I want to fulfill my calling to write with excellence and understanding, but graduate school may not fit into my current life’s delicate balance. Maybe I’m wrong and my dream isn’t dead after all. Perhaps it is simply gestating in the soil, preparing for a coming season.

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Performance vs. Potential

The gap between performance and potential is far from neutral. On the positive side, it inspires. Think of the young professional who sees her future self in a seasoned colleague and dreams of achieving great things for God. Optimism and drive mark this view. On the negative side, however, the gap can be as haunting as it is illusory. Haunting because it confirms just how much we come up short; illusory because the gap tortures us with false truths about rank and value. For those who suffer the latter, even Jesus’ promise to be sufficient in our weakness goes unheard.

In The High Calling series on Performance vs. Potential, we’re taking an honest look at both perspectives. Will you join us? Whether you’re a dreamer seeking growth, or a doubter seeking peace, we believe you’ll be encouraged by what you read.

Image by CIMMYT. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

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