Do you remember that job I was so excited about getting and then so very frustrated about losing? Through a series of ridiculous events and no small amount of prayer and perseverance, I have that job (again) and am today wrapping up my second week.
It’s a good job. I work with marvelous people (although a bewildering amount of them are female, which is odd), I keep pretty busy, my boss is the bee’s knees and still thinks she made the right choice in hiring me. It’s good, and I like it. And trust me, I’m every bit as grateful to be employed—with benefits!—as people keep telling me I ought to be. (Not to mention that it’s pretty nice, if spiteful, to be able to say that yes, I have a master’s degree in medieval studies and I’m gainfully employed. Suck it, judgy naysayers.)
But we humans are a perpetually dissatisfied lot, aren’t we? “The grass is always greener on the other side” is a saying I’ve heard since before I was totally aware that green came in different shades. In some ways, this concept is good—many of our great inventions have come from the human drive for “better” (although so have many of our worst nightmares). But this…discontent can be rough.
I like this job. I do. But I’m still playing the superhero game which Magister so cleverly articulates—I have a good job by day, but my “true” self comes out off-duty. I lived this split life earning my degree, and I find I’m living it even more so now.
So keeping that in mind, there’s a gal who’s leaving her job at my church. I’ve been peripherally aware of this, but at one point I was conversing with Interpreter about something else and we got to mentioning it. He said (paraphrased), “You know, if you hadn’t gotten your job, it would’ve been great to see what we could do with you in this position.”
I wish I could say “I’m honored you would think that!” was my first reaction. To be fair to myself, it was on the list—but way, way down, long after “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! AT LEAST A FULL YEAR I’VE BEEN WRESTLING WITH AND HOPING FOR WORK IN A CHURCH AND NOW AS SOON AS I HAVE A JOB THIS OPPORTUNITY OPENS UP? YOU SO SUCK SOMETIMES, GOD.”
Here’s the thing: I know my grass is a right fine shade of green. Being in this particular plant patch is teaching me things I need to learn as a human and as a future ministerial type, and I can see that in this part of the long run, I need to be where I am. I can even see that, in certain ways, working at my church right now would be somewhat toxic for me, because I personally am not in a place where I could get the full benefit of working in that environment and being able to balance my faith and my employment. Whatever color the grass is over there, it isn’t good for me.
That, however, in no way lessens how good it looks, how lush and soft and healthy compared to my side, where what was perfectly serviceable vegetation has begun to seem as Astroturf in comparison. I want a job that feeds my soul as well as my pocketbook, a job where I can feel as though I’m actually living out my Call rather than just living with it. The easy answer is this other opportunity.
How interesting, this frustration at being barred—at the most basic level, by my own choice—from a life and career against which I have railed so long and hard.
How childish to get what I want and immediately want what someone else has! Yet I cannot deny that I am still learning how to be alive for the eight hours of my day that are spent in an office; I cannot pretend not to see the joy I find in reading books on ministry during my lunch hour; I cannot say this job is life-giving. It may yet be; after all, today is only my 9th day at it. I have much to learn in the way of what Boss always told me, that ministry happens wherever you are willing to be God’s and this doesn’t have to be in a church.
But…but, I’m set to teach Vacation Bible School to grades 7-12 next week, a terrifying prospect that is nonetheless far more enlivening than budget proposals or textbook requisitions. My heart is still there, not here, however much the skills I learn here will be so very useful in the day-to-day office-ness of there. How, then, does one live without one’s heart? How does one live content but without joy?
How do we see that God created this grass in the first days, too?
Then they despised the pleasant land,
having no faith in his promise.
They murmured in their tents,
and did not obey the voice of the Lord. (Psalm 106:24-25, ERV)