Now, where were we before I was interrupted?
Hmm, I was having significant qualms about my relationship with my workplace and the work I was doing there, and then U2 came along and lit a fire underneath me about originality and authenticity, and speaking one’s own word truly and faithfully into the world. And then I quit my job and went on vacation.
Now the dust has settled, and I’ve returned to the job in retail from which I’d taken an indefinite leave (thank God for collective agreements). It is not a creative or powerful job, but it’s a good one that pays the mortgage and most importantly, pays my way through grad school.
The questioning I’d been doing about “authenticity” did not begin when I heard U2’s No Line on the Horizon… but it’s not unreasonable to say the album provided the beginning of some answers. The work I was doing for a year and a half (having taken a leave from school) was important work for social justice – but almost from the start of it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this job wasn’t mine to do. It felt like I was doing someone else’s work. So I constantly debated myself:
social justice! Just what you’ve wanted!
Countered by: But not this! My strongest skills – writing, speaking, teaching – aren’t even in play here!
-- But this work matters, affecting people where they live, in their day-to-day lives!
– but you want to open their eyes to their spirits, to examine what love really is, in their day-to-day lives …
And then there’s Bono, shouting to the world: Magnificent! I was born to sing for You – I didn’t have a choice… Daring to be original, daring to make his work in the world BIG. My biggest fear was that returning to my old job would make me, or my calling, smaller somehow. But now after a month back at it, nothing could be further from the truth. The retail job leaves me as soon as I leave it after 8 hours; my mind has room again for theology and creativity. This school year I will take 4 courses, which nearly completes the requirements for my degree. And I feel like myself again: I don’t feel like I’ve given myself away.
God’s call sometimes takes surprising forms, eh? I heard the call to do the work of God’s love in the world, and I thought I would know what it would look like. Intellectually I concluded that I’d landed in the right place to develop an appropriate form of “ministry” (not to be mistaken for traditional evangelism!) in the secular world. But my heart, my guts – my frustration – kept informing me otherwise. An unexpected but very rich lesson. God kept calling, even after I thought I had “found what I’m looking for.” And it took me awhile, but I listened – not knowing for sure that everything would be hunky-dory on the other side of it – but it couldn’t be ignored. And now, I couldn’t be happier.
I have no regrets, mind you: certainly the experience and skills I gained on the job are invaluable. My mistake was in thinking that I’d reached my destination. Apparently I’m still on my way there…
… in some very good company. (see below!)