Careers and Community

Home_photoA career is a funny thing. College students get these career choices, and they can be a fairly arbitrary choice at a time when we are insecure and sometimes haven’t even become our own person. Nonetheless, many young people choose one, become a slave to school, then become a slave to debt, then become a slave to the lavish lifestyles that these high paying careers have enabled, and are pretty much expected to retire from this career at the end of our working life. Then, unfortunately, many women and men across the world have no choice but to continue work that is below a living wage or is brutal or abusing. At both ends of the spectrum, people so often get stuck and don’t ever move from this work that was chosen for them or that they chose at a fragile, ignorant age.

Over the last few years, as my wife and I have moved further and further away from a life of independence and seeking material things, I’ve realized that my current work isn’t what I’m really passionate about. It’s pleasant work, it pays well, and it has allowed me opportunities to follow Christ into the margins – even in the setting I’ve been in. But I began dreaming of the day when I could retire, maybe early, from my current work and enjoy the blessing of more meaningful work. More recently, in the last few months, I’ve rejoiced (though sometimes, admittedly, with a tinge of jealousy) with others in the community as they’ve moved into work that so accurately represented their passion. It’s been powerful to walk along dedicated people in our community who can make those job choices because of the way they choose to live simply. But I couldn’t quite see the shore for myself. I expressed these musings about work to the community, but always along with my disgruntled opinion that I felt like I should remain in this career for this season.

This Wednesday, I was notified (without any warning) that my current job is coming to an end at the end of this month. Though not my dream for my lifelong work, I have been at this place for four years and saw it as the pinnacle of my career in this field. So of course it came as quite the shock, and I have felt everything from humor to anger to excitement to personal disappointment and doubt.

Thursday, the community gathered for prayer as we always do. I brought my handmade instrument, sat down, and anticipated that sometime after prayer, I should probably tell the rest of the gang who didn’t already know. Instead, my wife and I were both asked to open up our hearts to everyone about how this was making us feel, and afterwards, everyone gathered around us and gave thanks for the blessing we are to them, affirmed me, and prayed for our doubts, concerns, faith, and open future. It was exactly what I needed.

Through what could be a dark and difficult time, I feel encouraged and supported by my wife and my community. One of our friends, a visitor from out of town, was especially quick to point out how wonderful it is for me to have this community during this time, and how incredibly more difficult it must be without it.

I am truly blessed, and I love you all. Thank you for this vivid example of how a loving community bears each others’ burdens – and may I heap my own love and support upon you when you next need it.

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