Why I’m Not a Resident at the Austin Stone

Today is my last day as a resident at the Austin Stone. Why is this? Well, I’ll explain with a story. It’s relevant, I promise.

Once upon a time, there was a music major. Her name was Callie (that’s me). She started college at UT as a double major in piano and Plan II – knowing she wanted to go to medical school. But she loved music! She had played piano her whole life and thought to herself “Wow! I will be the most diverse and intriguing med school applicant because I majored in music and liberal arts!”

She loved the idea of being a music major. She loved telling people she was a music major, pre-med. She even liked some of her classes – she got to take an accompanying class which was fantastic (and terrifying because everyone else blew her skills out of the water, but that’s besides the point). And she got credit for being in UT’s show choir Longhorn Singers – which she freaking loved.

Then the classes dragged on. She hauled her 35-lb. (exaggeration, but close) music theory book to class every morning at the crack of dawn, where she was taught things she already knew because as it would turn out, music theory lends itself to pianists and vocalists. She was both. Yowza. It’s like if every athlete had to take a class on soccer basics – all the soccer players would have a huge leg up. All the music majors have to take music theory and I was the soccer player. I lucked out.

Within this magical land of music majors, there are instrument lessons. You get two hours of credit for like six thousand hours of work. There is a mysterious grading scale where half of your grade comes from your lesson times (somehow) and half comes from a twenty-minute jury at the end of the semester where the faculty stares you down from a huge recital hall where you prove your skillz on a big piano signed by Van Cleiburn (he is a big deal in the piano world). My teacher, whom I will refer to as Lord Farquad, was a lovely, artsy man. He liked to talk in sweeping statements. Apparently his lofty language was intended to make me a better pianist but I never had any idea what was going on.

Lord Farquad liked classical-era music. So each week, I would lock myself away in a tower (practice rooms at the music school) and pick through each note of a three-voice Bach piece or Haydn sonata that I hated. Despite Lord Farquad’s general loveliness, I had no idea what to do with my fingers in response to his vague artsy instruction. Bummer.

The day-to-day of studying music got to me. I used to love piano – I loved the way I could play music off the cuff and relieve stress. But in music major land, the piano became my source of stress. Yet I had started as a piano major and I would finish no matter what. Callie does not quit. Not matter how much she dislikes music major land.

Spoiler alert: by March, Callie had fled music major land. She finished the Spring semester and ran into the welcoming arms of international nutrition major land, before an eating disorder forced her to flee yet again, this time to her final destination of an additional history major. Yet most music major land-residents (I will call them munchkins because they are artsy and wonderful and they can sing and dance) belong there. The munchkins love the land because they want to do music forever. It is their home; it was not mine.

So why is this relevant? Well, I think I started working at the Austin Stone for reasons similar to those that compelled me to be a music major. I love the Austin Stone Community Church because I served there for so long and I have grown so much in my relationship with Jesus thanks to the resources and community I have found there. The idea of working for the Austin Stone was so compelling! I wanted to spend my year off growing as a woman of faith, learning and being challenged.

I have realized that the concept of working here is so exciting, but the day to day was less so. My heart beats for medicine, for the intellectual challenge of problem-solving within the body, the constant movement and interaction with broken people. My favorite task so far has been putting together IKEA furniture because I love to create things. Unfortunately, this has like nothing to do with my actual job.

But I started as a resident, and I wanted to finish my year. My sweet therapist who walked me through an eating disorder – we’ll call her Buttercup for the sake of the mystical theme – spoke truth to me when I saw her in November. I told Buttercup I wanted to stick it out, no matter how much I disliked the day-to-day. She said I didn’t need to. Although it was an honorable motivation, the Lord puts us places for seasons. I lit up when she told me I didn’t have to stay – and she told me God gives us passions and feelings for a reason. When our feelings are contrary to truth, we can acknowledge them yet remind ourselves of truth and not allow ourselves to be driven by them. However, sanctification doesn’t have to suck. The Lord wired me a certain way for a reason J I didn’t have to stay just for the sake of staying. Buttercup reminded me to cling to the scriptures to make my decision, but know that both staying at the Austin Stone and leaving were in line with the revealed will of God.

I realized soon after that this decision was not unlike the one I made while slogging through music major land. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I loved saying I was a music major, but while the munchkins and Lord Farquad belonged there and loved it, I didn’t. Same with the Austin Stone – I am so glad to have experienced the growing and learning I did here! But I only have a few months left before I leave May 16th for Europe (EEP SO EXCITED!!!!!). And I want to use them well – also to rest and recover before eight years of uninterrupted schooling and hard work.

While I was praying about the decision at the end of last semester, we had a staff meeting on one of the Austin Stone’s eight core tenets: Equipping the Saints. God creates us differently and gifts us differently and we must use what we’ve been given for His glory. I have an artistic skillset that is so unique, so valuable – I am eager to develop what I have for the kingdom! This semester I will focus on learning guitar – to lead worship overseas, to write music with subtle gospel references and hopefully play at coffee shops! I am also a professional pianist, and I need to keep up my skills if I want to serve employers well in the way I perform. My other goal is to become conversational in Spanish! So many experiences have taught me the value of speaking someone’s native language with them, and the difficulty of developing this skill once I start medical school. So I will dedicate time to learning J

So today is my last day in Austin Stone staff land. I will miss it, but know that God created me for different things! I want to use my time wisely and develop the skills I have for His glory!

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