What is it about jobs that are so stressful? Seriously. Even the people I know who actually somewhat enjoy their jobs still come home at the end of the day exhausted and glad to be away from work. There are all kind of theories out there about this.
My dad describes it as the traffic light principle, and I don’t know who he got that from. You know, some jobs have a lot of red lights, things you just hate to do and aren’t that good at, some have a lot of yellows, things you can do but don’t enjoy, and a few greens, which are things you love to do and are good at.
The Christian theory is usually that because we are living in the world after the Fall, we all share in the curse that was given to Adam: that his work would be full of labor and futility. But not all Christians agree on what our “job” or our “purpose” here on earth really is. I’m reading a book right now called “Heaven is Not My Home” by Paul Marshall. The jury’s out, but it is an interesting look at the idea that our job is the same as it was in genesis, to rule and take care of the earth.
My current job is nowhere near that fulfilling. It’s what my dad would call a “red-light” job, full of things I don’t really enjoy. It’s not that they’re hard; it’s just boring. I’ve literally been falling asleep at my desk. And if my boss happens to read this while he’s in recovery from surgery, well, I’m sorry. But you know, Doc, you can’t really blame me since neither you nor the Mrs. exactly enjoy your jobs, either.
I’ve actually noticed that environment makes a huge difference to me in whether or not I enjoy my job. If I get along with my boss and co-workers and/or customers, I can handle a lot of tasks I wouldn’t normally care to try. (Also, I’ll do just about any chore if I can have my music playing.) But if I feel dumped on or boxed in it really stresses me out. I took one of those IFES type tests and the work situation it described as being not a good fit for me was basically my first job out of college.
My résumé reads like a hall of shame; part-time jobs I had for a little while until I couldn’t take it anymore or I was lucky enough to be moving on. I worked in the Cafeteria in college, and the dish room at six am was pretty torturous. When I took a year off between high school and college, I actually worked in a factory. It was horrible. I’ve never felt so much like a robot. The summer after college I worked at a theme park—which sounds fun in theory. But I worked the concessions stands. Outside. I had to wear the long-sleeved dresses, bloomers, and stockings of the 1800’s settlers in the highly humid Missouri summer. All day I got asked, “Aren’t you hot?” by people walking around in bathing suits, tank tops, and shorts. After college I worked at a couple preschools—the Montessori kind. I worked with some great kids and some neat ladies, but I just couldn’t handle all the structure they imposed on the kids. Plus, my job was usually more about keeping the room clean rather than interacting with and teaching the kids. Even now, my job is mostly about cleaning. I don’t have anything against cleanliness; it’s just not what I want to do for a living.
So far in my short life I have only had one job I truly loved, and that was in College. I worked in the Community Service department for three out of four years. It was great. I went into elementary schools, latchkey programs, boys and girls clubs, nursing homes, and a food pantry. I’m not sure if I loved it because it was highly relational, because I had a good balance of routine and variety, because I felt like I was doing something worthwhile, or a combination of all three.
I just applied for a job in a coffee shop this week. I’ve been looking around for another job for month, in part because my boss keeps talking about retiring. Just because he can’t make up his mind doesn’t mean I should be left without a job. I’ve applied at a library, a bookstore, and with a couple of ministries. Nothing happened. I keep asking God what it is he intends to do with me and the gifts he’s given me. Now I’m going to be going in for training at the coffee shop, Café Latte, next week. Did I mention I don’t even drink coffee? I guess that’s not a big deal. I’m not thrilled about the prospects of early mornings and impatient consumers, but it might not be so bad. (I always think that at the beginning of a job. Always.)
What I really want to be when I grow up is a writer. There are a lot of other things I’d like to do: teach, play in a band, record a song, study in another country, make a movie….but I really love to write. I’ve written two books so far. I hope to eventually get a website up about them, but I still might blog about them sometime. I’m also hoping to self-publish one of them in the near future.
I just wish that my sense of self and feelings of accomplishment weren’t so wrapped up in what I’m doing for a living. I mean, I have to pay the bills; that’s a given. But I can have dreams, can’t I? We all graduate from college bright eyed and hoping to land our dream job right away—or at least a job in our field. Some of us do. But I have very few friends who are really fulfilled in their jobs. I’m not just writing this to say work sucks or complain about the economy. I’m just wondering, like I’m sure others are, what went wrong? Is this as good as it gets?
I know deep down it’s not, and I’m grateful that I decided to reread John Eldredge’s “The Journey of Desire.” I love his books so much I will save it for a separate blog. He writes of how we were meant for so much more…but that it’s just possible we won’t get to fulfill it in this life. I’ve heard the saying “Life is not a Dress Rehearsal,” but Eldredge says it actually is. When Heaven and Earth are renewed and we are restored, maybe we will get to do all the things we always wanted to and were meant to—but without the frustration a failure. If you’ve ever been uninspired by the idea of what awaits us in heaven, go read the book right now. Literally. Stop reading this and go find a copy.
What I really want to do is write like that: to capture people’s hearts and minds; to show the truth through a story; to awaken people to the longing inside them; to pull back the curtain on the cosmic drama we are all meant to be a part of. Is it a core part of my being? Is it what I am meant to do? Is it my job? I guess we’ll see.