Reflecting on what’s important…

There is something about experiencing loss that causes people to reflect on life and to focus on what’s most important.

Over the past year, I have experienced myself and along with others more loss than I care to really think about – from very young to very old and ages in between. Two individuals I used to work with at my previous job have passed away – one from suicide and one from alcoholism. Grandparents have passed away from cancer, including both my grandpas and now a dear friend’s grandma. Husband’s grandpa isn’t far behind. I have lived a bit of a coworker’s nightmare – a family member’s loss of their very young, precious son. We have also heard of the very unexpected loss of a family member’s husband at age 30. The same age as husband now. These and more over the past year.

Of course, these all have the devastation of losing someone close in common, though experienced in different ways – some deaths expected, some not at all. Some have spent months hoping against hope for a miracle, others waiting months for the inevitable to  happen. Invariably, people begin to think about what is important. What really matters anymore? What am I doing with my life that means anything? What could or should I change so I know I’m doing something important and worthwhile?

I have found an additional challenge in waiting for a baby to come. I am expecting life while others are losing it. How do I continue to be joyful about our blessing of a currently healthy little one, knowing that others struggle and wait and pray for the same thing? How do I avoid feeling guilty of our ability to conceive and have so easily? How do I continue to enjoy this and not project feelings onto others, laying on myself the feelings I would expect to have in a different situation?

I also find that I am continuing to question where I am and what I am doing with my career. What am I doing that is important? How am I making a difference? How is it possible to make a difference when we are so small and so limited? How do we make a difference despite our glaring weaknesses? How to we continue to function amid such chaos? How do I continue to find contentment in what I’m doing? And if I really am being called to another place, where is it and what is it? How do I discern that? How do I know that it’s not just my brain playing up the fantasy of being somewhere else, doing something “more meaningful?”

All of this contemplation makes me so tired. Intellectually, physically, emotionally – I’m just wiped. I feel like I don’t have anything to give any more. I’m reaching so far into my own mind to sort through these thoughts and questions that it’s hard to pull myself out and be in the real world with real people. To be in the moment.

So what is important? And what really isn’t?

The question is not how far…

“The question is not how far. The question is, do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far is as needed?”

The irony of starting this post with that quote is that it comes from an extremely entertaining but honestly controversial film in regards to faith and actions – The Boondock Saints (also, the quote is referencing killing people, which isn’t exactly where I’m going with this, either). There are MANY people I wouldn’t choose to watch this film with because of certain qualities of the film (like significant volume of foul language and fairly gruesomely depicted violence), but overall I really like it.

Despite its less than virtuous characteristics, this quote is amazingly insightful and relevant to every person’s walk of faith.  Sometimes, I find myself asking the questions “How far do I have to go” or “How much longer do I need to stay here before I can do something I REALLY want for work” or even better, “What can I do to speed up the process of getting into my dream job?”

Over the last two years or so, I have been in jobs that aren’t terrible, but aren’t quite what I want to do. I want to do more, to be more – to work somewhere that matters, to have the freedom to share that true healing of the brain and body can only happen with the supernatural power of God. I haven’t been able to, and honestly, still can’t have those conversations with the people I am trying to help. I am relegated to talking about science and evidence-based practices and research that proves this or that – none of which can honestly be about faith in Christ. I can talk about ‘spirituality’ or ‘religious activities’ or ‘faith’ as long as it encompasses every possible form of spiritual seeking.

I find that I am less and less content with this situation.

I know that Christ-followers are ALL ministers and in ministry regardless of occupation and position and title. I am no less a minister or in ministry than the senior pastor of my church. I also know that I am in my current job (and was in my previous job) for a reason – to learn, grow, and develop for whatever the future holds. I just wish sometimes that I knew what the lessons are that I am supposed to learn while here so that I can learn them and move along.

This mindset is dangerous in itself, though, because it involved wishing away time and life – which contradicts my last post. The LAST thing I want to do is wish away the time I have here and the time I have with my coworkers. I know I don’t want to look back in January as I prepare for maternity leave and say “With what did I waste the time I had when I was there? How did I blow the opportunities I was given? Why did I spend SO much time looking for LoTR memes to put on facebook about my pregnancy?” or whatever other questions that would inevitably come up.

It’s easy to take work cues from those around (or more precisely NOT around) me. It’s easy to copy the work patterns of others even though I know I can and should do more and work more and harder and be faithful to the job I’ve been given. It’s easy to point the finger at someone else and say “He or she never got back to me so it didn’t get done” or any number of other excuses as to why I’ve been less effective than I could have been. It’s easy and tempting to abdicate personal responsibility in the face of so much unsupervised time.

HOWEVER

I have to remember that how I work here (and how I worked at my last job) are building blocks for how I will work in the future. If I build a habit of laziness and abdicating my responsibility in favor of blaming those around me, I won’t be ready for the dream job when the opportunity finally presents itself. If I truly want to work in ministry full-time, I have to develop the work ethic I need while in jobs that are less than completely fulfilling.

I can choose to be content where I am or I can choose to be discontent.

I can choose to be ethical and moral at work where NOBODY (but God) sees it or I can choose not to be.

I can choose to grow into the kind of harvest worker God desires me to be or I can choose not to.

Throughout this time and these jobs, I know that I need to choose to develop into the kind of worker that is needed or I will be ineffective at whatever I do. I have to choose the narrow and difficult path of self-management and to walk it with integrity not knowing what the future holds. The greatest thing about faith, though, is that it’s not necessary for me to see the future. It is necessary for me to remain faithful to the life I have chosen to live under the banner I have chosen and to develop the constitution, the depth of faith, to take things as far as are needed.