Saturday, November 15, 2014

Readers, We Need to Catch Up.

There has been so much going on lately that I haven't even had time to breathe. That trial that I mentioned we were having? I didn't end up just sitting at counsel table and helping plan strategy . . . I was doing a direct examination of a witness after having been sworn in on Monday and getting my bar number/ official bar license on Wednesday. I have spent the last two weeks preparing everything for this trial with the help of my boss and our paralegal. It was fun, but I still have a lot to learn and a lot to work on. We don't know the results yet, but we will know something next week. I did my questioning, and I made some objections to opposing counsel (which got overruled, but at least I made them). This is me getting sworn in to the State Bar of Georgia:

Even after getting sworn in, I STILL wasn't officially an attorney until Wednesday when I got my bar number, but now, I am a full-fledged attorney and fully licensed to practice law in Georgia. Finally! I resigned from being a "law clerk" forever . . . and I can't hide behind that title anymore. Telling someone you're a law clerk, or having an email signature that says that's what you are, kind of alerts the world that you are young and inexperienced, perhaps even still a student. But when your email signature says you're an associate attorney, there's no way for anyone else to tell whether you've been practicing law for 40 years or 2 days. So it's a little scary, and I know that I'm going to be expected to start making a lot more of my own decisions about at least smaller matters on cases now that I can practice without supervision. And I can sign documents to be filed with the court with MY bar number on them!

So needless to say, work has been crazy busy lately, and my first thoughts upon waking have been about things like whether we need to get domestic relations financial affidavits updated or how to get in a certain kind of evidence over a hearsay objection. I'm starting to learn what it feels like to be a real attorney and to have a hard time leaving work at work--I've been thinking about my cases and checking my work email all the time lately, even plotting out trial strategy in the shower. 

But this morning I woke up and realized that at the moment, I'm not stressed out about a single thing, and I can't tell you how good it feels! This is the first weekend I've officially been a member of the bar, and I'm no longer stressing about when I'll finally get sworn in or when I'll get a bar number or whether something else will hold up me getting my license. I tackled the rest of the case issues that were blowing up all of last week by the end of the day yesterday, so I'm going to be starting pretty fresh on Monday with new things. And I LOVE being a real attorney. I just love it. Also, lately I've been connecting with other people at work that I hadn't really talked with much since I got started in August, and I'm feeling so much more like an integral part of the team and am being myself around people. I absolutely love how these days, I don't just come in and head straight to my office in the morning; now there's almost always a few minutes of laughing with people in the break room before I get going each day. 

So today, it feels wonderful not to have any big stuff hanging over my head. It feels great to still be in my pajamas at 12:48 pm on this freezing November day after spending the morning sleeping, listening to music, updating LinkedIn, etc. Last night I went to Barnes and Noble and pretty much spent my paycheck there (well, not quite, but I went a little wild buying books). Can't wait to read all of these:

I don't read very much at all these days except articles online and magazines, and I really want to get back into books. It feels more relaxing at the end of a long day to just watch TV, but I know I've grown up loving reading and don't want to lose that as I get older. So, I want to read all 6 of these books before the end of the year for sure, and then I'm probably going to go back and buy more. I know I can always go to the library, but I've been specifically wanting to add to my own book collection also, so that's what I'm trying to do right now. There's something deeply satisfying and inviting about having shelves full of great books, isn't there?

Let's see, what else do we need to catch up on? For one, I adopted a cat! His name is Max, and he is so precious and I've totally fallen in love with him:

Isn't he completely adorable? He has already brightened my life so much--I love coming home to him every night and cuddling on my couch and listening to him purr. 

And let's see, here's a picture from my sister's visit a couple weeks ago after a coffee date with our friend: 

And a couple city-at-night pictures I took recently:

As soon as I finish doing my "Saturday chores" and cleaning my apartment this afternoon (much needed, haha), I will try to post some pictures of my new apartment and how I've decorated it. I've been meaning to do that for awhile and just haven't had the chance. More to come soon!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's OK to Be Afraid

This post has been a long time coming. What I'm about to write about is something I have been thinking about this entire year, and on Tuesday last week, I was sitting at Panera eating my lunch when the words finally just came to mind, cohesively, and I started typing them out in a note on my phone as fast as I could. So here you have it.

I think we as Christians tend to believe that we should never be afraid and that we need to step it up in the faith department if we find ourselves feeling afraid. After all, the Bible does say not to worry, not to be anxious, and not to fear, and it says it a LOT. And I'm not here to advocate for giving in to brooding anxieties or constant worry about our lives, or for succumbing to the misguided belief that God will not pull us through whatever situation we find ourselves in, because that's clearly not what God wants us to do. But.

Isn't it true that being afraid forces us to embrace raw dependence on God? On Tuesday I was having a conversation with God (at Panera over a bowl of autumn squash soup) about how I so often feel afraid, underqualified, and overwhelmed at my new job. Not because the people aren't wonderful and the work isn't what I want to do--it's not that at all. It's that more often than not, I have no idea what I'm doing. 9 times out of 10 when I'm given an assignment to do, it is something I have never done before and I have to find a way to figure it out. I'm getting sworn in (yay!) a week from tomorrow, but that also means I will be licensed to practice law just in time for a major trial we have on November 13th--which means I will be not only attending the trial, but sitting at counsel table beside my boss and helping him plan strategy and figure out our next move. Kind of intimidating. I'm in a whole new world now, and I don't usually have a clue what I am doing, although I am starting, bit by bit, to learn. I'm having to get familiar with a whole different crowd of very experienced family law attorneys, and am often asked to go to events "on behalf of" my bosses or my firm. (You guys do know I have like 10 weeks of experience compared to your 20+ years, right??) Back in the summer, at one point I wrote in my journal something to the effect of: "Everything significant I have left to do this year scares me so much. Taking the bar exam, starting my job, getting licensed to practice law, moving, finding a new place to live, making new friends, etc. Everything." And sometimes, I do wonder if I can make the cut here, if I can be good enough as an attorney, and if I can overcome my inexperience and the fact that I'm younger than the next youngest attorney in my firm by 5 years. So just being honest, I feel afraid and "not cut out for this" a lot. I can't claim that I am diving into this with all confidence, because that's just not true.

But in that moment, telling God all these fears, I just felt Him saying in my spirit, "Lauren, you're acting like you came here to be comfortable. You didn't move here and take this job to be comfortable. You came here to make yourself and your life better, to be challenged and to grow, to develop new skills, and to stretch yourself to accomplish things you didn't believe you could accomplish. It's ok to be afraid sometimes. It's ok to have that adrenaline rush of looking at your life and realizing you have no clue what to do next and no clue whether you are even capable of doing that next thing. I want to induce in you a raw and constant grasping dependence on my Spirit and relentless straining for my presence, and this is how you get there. This. Not having a clue, not knowing what to do next, not sure you can make it through the next challenge without making a fool of yourself. This is where you're supposed to be AND it's how your're supposed to feel! This was never supposed to be easy, and you never signed up for something easy. Doing something significant is scary, and that is ok. You wouldn't have to be afraid if you were just sitting on your butt doing nothing or suppressing your potential, but that's not what I want for your life. If you were never afraid, you'd start convincing yourself that you don't need me. And you DO need me. Every day, every hour, every minute."

Well. After that little pep talk, I don't think I need to complain to God about being afraid anymore. Sometimes our deepest trust in our Savior is born of our greatest fears. And maybe, just maybe, if you feel like you aren't qualified and don't even know what your next move should be, you are exactly where God wants you to be for Him to show you--and the world through you--how strong and capable He is. Remember, He displays his greatest power in our greatest weakness. Pushing yourself to do things you don't believe you can do, but that you know you are called to do, puts you in a position to see God's power on display in your life.

I am not always capable, but I serve a God who IS always capable. I am not always enough, but He is enough, I can't always do it, be He can. I fail, but He doesn't. When I am afraid, He's got it covered. If my fear creates in me that moment-to-moment dependence on the power, guidance, and wisdom of God, then bring it on.