Too Many Choices

Photo: Vic on Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo: Vic on Flickr via Creative Commons

There’s a struggle in the lives of many people my age (let’s be generous and say twenty-to-thirtysomethings) to figure out what we should be doing with our lives. If we were involved with a youth group in high school, we’ve heard the “I have a plan for you” speech a hundred times. At that age our job was to figure out God’s Plan For Our Lives, so we didn’t waste our time on the wrong schools, wrong friends, wrong dates. The Church taught us that God intended each of us to be World Changers, that we would make a radical impact as extreme followers of Jesus. It was all very intense, very inspiring.

Culture was also opening doors for us. Most of us would have the option to attend college, and from there almost have our pick of career paths. We could be anything we wanted to be. Since we were also exposed to various extracurriculars, we had the chance to discover myriad interests and passions outside the academic world.

Advantage plus opportunity added to divine intention equaled paralysis for many of us. We were good at lots of things, not passionate about any particular thing, and terrified of making a wrong choice. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a nineteen year old. We don’t have all the information we need at that young age, and we haven’t had the experiences necessary to help define the road we should take. Many friends chose a path they later regretted, returning to school in their mid-twenties to pursue a different life altogether.

I floundered for over a decade in a job I hated, trying desperately to “discern God’s will” in the season. I played a lot of spiritual mind games, but could never find peace with the job. I was angry a lot, frustrated, and confined by the corporate environment that made every day feel like the worst scenes from Office Space. A few years ago a new opportunity was placed before me: a friend owned a company and asked me to come work for him. He was offering a better wage, the job sounded engaging, and I was desperate for a change. So, terrified though I was, I submitted my resignation letter to my cubicled employer and started out on a new adventure.

Turns out this new job also felt a lot like work. Not hard, toilsome, exhausted work, but day-to-day mundane work. The difference came in a dozen little perks. Flexible hours and scheduling. Lax dress code which meant I didn’t feel like I was dressing in a costume every day to look like some version of myself my employer found acceptable. Coworkers I genuinely enjoy being around. No hierarchical authority structure, which means honesty and exchange of ideas. Massive amounts of independence in the job. All of this sounds small, petty maybe, but the end result is that at the end of the day I still feel like a whole person. I am still myself. Which means there’s plenty of energy for pursuing things I love, like teaching and studying and reading and writing and cooking and meeting with friends and gaming (and occasionally Netflix-gorging).

I’m not sure yet what God’s Plan For My Life entails. I’ve pretty much given up on the World Changer bit, not because I don’t think it’s possible but because the pressure was such a distraction. I’m finding that allowing my vocation, my larger life’s meaning, to be bigger than my job is translating into a much more fulfilled life overall. Somewhere in all that freedom, all of that healing, all of that peace, I think vocation is filling in the cracks. Vocation seems to look like having the energy to be kind to the people I deal with at work. Having the wisdom to speak into a friend’s situation. Having the words to write here. It looks like love. So I will keep pursuing the paths that lead to love, trusting that God’s Plan For My Life lies along those same roads.

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the fate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half the man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


1 Comment

  1. December 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    By the way, I really *really* needed to read this when I did. Thank you for writing it.

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