Profile in the Gap: Marian Keiselbach

Profiles in the Gap

Marian Keiselbach

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Marian Keiselbach is a nurse in the Northern Virginia area.

Did I expect this time of singleness? I don’t know. Depends on when you asked me. When I was eight, I thought that the end of the world would come well before I was 21. When I was 16, I thought I had my whole entire life completely figured out and therefore how could there possibly be gap time. And when I was 21, and my life plan of 16 had fallen through and thrown me flat on my face, I thought the rest of my life would be an unending limbo of fog and unfulfilled desires. I’m 27 now and this “time of singleness” is well upon me, so there is nothing to expect or not expect, there is only the day behind me to be reflected upon and the day ahead of me to be embraced and lived. 

Married, celibately consecrated, or in the grey in between, I seek and hope that l will continue to seek to find my fulfillment in my relationship with… you guessed it…. God. I also can’t help but wonder if I really will feel more fulfilled once I’ve “minded the gap” and entered the train. I know that I’m crazy restless right now, and some of it is from the evil one driving me to despair and some of it is from the Lord urging me toward the Father, but I can’t really imagine that getting married or joining a convent will all of a sudden provide the magic cure for my restlessness. Surely the only true fulfillment will be in heaven. Maybe I will feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled in a different manner or a little less, but I think until I’m face to face with God forever I’ll always be searching. And for me this is one of the greatest consolations of this between time. My angst (I think) is not because I’m in the  wrong place or doing the wrong thing or not doing enough, its because Eve ate that damn apple and Adam stood by and watched.  

That being said, I do love my job. I’m a nurse and I thank God daily for my work. (Although last week when my patient vomited all over my new sneakers,  I believe I may have been a little less appreciative.) My work challenges me, pushes me, makes me more generous, gives me structure and discipline, and provides an outlet for my desire to serve. I’m also fulfilled by my many relationships, and I rejoice that I have time to make new friends and to love and grow with my old ones.

Finally, the life of the mind is another truly satisfying aspect of the single life. If I was married with children or caught up in the responsibilities of communal life, would I have the same luxury of free time to study my Spanish, visit the many museums in the area and of course read, read, and read some more? Probably not. So, although I think it’s about time the Lord revealed His will for grown up me, and if He would move it along a little I would be very grateful, I nevertheless daily thank Him for the wonderful and satisfying things He has given me, and I strive to continue to have as much fun as I possibly can in the meantime.

 

 

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A hot mess

At the risk of sounding negative and petulant and all the things I’ve been trying to avoid on this blog for the past three years, I’m going to admit something: This year has not been an easy one for me.

I always thought growing up meant getting to know yourself and settling into a life-long sort of routine, not just in outside things like when you wake up in the morning and where you buy your gas, but internally. I thought I’d reach a point in my late twenties or early thirties when everything about me just clicked and settled into place, and I could get comfortable with who I am and what I think and want and sort of “cruise” through anything life might throw at me.

Okay, so I never “thought” this in so many words, but I definitely carried the idea around with me in my subconscious, and I sort of staked a lot of my plans on it.

I’ll get serious about pursuing my vocation when I’m finally grown up, I thought.

I’ll be more comfortable in my own skin and have an easier time facing things like confrontation, leadership, suffering, and (gulp) relationships when I’m finally grown up. 

I’ll be worthy, when I’m finally grown up. 

I’ve always known life and outside circumstances can throw all sorts of curveballs our way, but I thought as long as I could maintain a good grip on myself, everything else would be okay. It never occurred to me that I might be my own biggest curveball.

Not until I found myself sitting on my bed in the dark one Friday night this past spring, surrounded by a pile of clothes I’d tried on and decided against, dreading the prospect of smiling and chatting my way through yet another crowded house party. Five years ago I would have killed to have the social life I have now. On this particular night, I would’ve sold my right arm for the promise of a few hours’ peace and solitude. But we were the hosts, and already I heard guests arriving downstairs. And I lost it. I sat up there for at least half an hour, sobbing over everything and getting angry with myself for losing it and completely unable to figure out why I couldn’t just get it together and drag my butt downstairs and have a good time. I finally had to sneak out of the house for an hour, and showed up late to my own party, with a brave enough face that I didn’t frighten off too many of the guests. But my own inability to control my reaction that evening really scared me.

Apparently, no matter how hard we try, we never have complete control over ourselves. Sickness, physical incapacity, emotional disturbances, mental unrest all just happen, and they force us to see ourselves as we really are, not as we’d like to be. I have discovered this year that no matter how hard I try to build fences and construct barriers and make my own personal corner of the universe safe and pleasant and full of nice people and things that make me comfortable, I can’t change the fact that I am not and never will be perfect.

The worst part? Apparently I’m the only one who’s been fooled into thinking I might be, or at least I might be close.

As I wrote recently, it’s been a humbling year. It’s been a year of learning how to ask for help, or at the very least to admit that I need it. It’s been a year of letting people see me cry. It’s been a year of taking criticism and critique as an opportunity to become better, instead of letting it cripple me. It’s been a year of letting myself  voice an opinion or a desire or a need without apologizing for it. It’s been a year of going on dates even though I tend to find them uncomfortable. It’s been a year of asking family and friends for prayers on the really tough days.

I’m not there yet, but I want to look back later in life and see this as the year that I finally learned, as St. Paul says, to “boast in my weakness.” I don’t know where I’m going or what my Vocation will look like, but I do know that I will be a weak, sinful, redeemed woman, in every circumstance. I’d like this year to be the turning point in a life that bears fruit because I’ve finally, finally begun to understand that I’m a hot mess.

Yet somehow, I’m still worthy of love in spite of it.

-Mabel