Tag Archives: Work

Rest(oration) and Relationships

I just realized that WordPress asks what’s on my mind when I open a new Quick Draft window. Ho boy if only WordPress knew… But that’s beside the point, because I’m really just here to call it quits. Not writing, no, this is too much of a release for me to stop. But rather seeking out a relationship. Or trying to be in control of my life in general. I know the topic of relationships seem to pop up in several of my posts lately, and for good reason. For the lack of a better way to put it, I have been pursuing a romantic relationship, mainly through online dating services, for the better part of the past five years. Yes, this means both an investment of time and money, and not a small one either. So why this admission now? Because I feel that is one of the many convictions God has placed on my heart, that I have abandoned my focus on the relationship with my ABBA Father in the hopes of finding a helpmate and spouse. This is not to say I have neglected my faith, for I have still made strides in my theological and spiritual growth during this time. However it is my direct connection to the Creator of all things that I have lost hold of.

There are some factors as to why I am suddenly facing an abyss within. First, as one might guess from having spent nearly five years pursuing a relationship, I have not much to show for it but heartbreak and hard lessons. Not to say that the lessons I have learned were not needed, but if I could go back and change some of my decisions, I can only imagine where God might have been able to use me. Second, the slow but steady fracturing of my social foundations. While my circle of friends has fluctuated frequently over the past few years, I have been living in the same house with the same person (my cousin Jake, who I consider also a close friend) for much of that time. This is about to change come the middle of August as he and another friend are headed to Dallas Theological Seminary. My heart has been aching over the departure for the familiar that I am facing, as I am a more sentimental than most people might believe. Not only this, but I am still in utter confusion what my life will look like in two months time, which brings me to reason three. Third, I am greatly desiring a teaching position so I might pursue my passion for working with young people and learning yet nothing has really turned up. In the meantime I have found a good job, but is by no means something I could do long-term (out of personal preference and comfort, not ability), and it is merely holding me over (at least in my mind) until I find a steady teaching position. And it has been this job search that revealed to me a saddening truth, that I might need to uproot from the little ground I have staked here in Warsaw, IN and go elsewhere. It dawned on me that at age 29, I really have no semblance of stability in my life. I have yet to hold a job for more than a couple years and have only begun to truly involve myself in a community. Yet it is the ties I have formed thus far that sharpen my desire to remain where I am at, and finally have a reason to “settle down”. Fourth, epic Scripture smackdowns. Y’all. The Holy Spirit hits hard. Like Mike Tyson left-hook hard. Like Bruce Lee flying kick hard. Despite missing more church services than attended since the school year came to a close, God has spoken to me every time I have set foot inside my church. I have always appreciated my pastors and the way God speaks through them, but these past couple weeks have been laying it on thick.

 

Point 1: God invites me to rest

I’ve said it before, but my spirit has been experiencing a time of weariness for some time. Like I’ve just been burnt out. And then Matthew 11:28 pops up at church. /Facepalm. Like, how easy is it to forget this? To just get so caught up in life that I forget that there is literally an open invitation from God for me to crash at his place. And boy do I need rest. My current work schedule is the graveyard shift, and I’m finding it harder and harder to sleep when I get home. This is on top of working basically 7 days a week for at least 8 hours a day. Sure the money is good, but the exhaustion is not something I’m used to. And in my attempt to go cold turkey with Mountain Dew (and those who know me personally know how big of a deal this is) means I have little to fall back on in terms of energy reserves right now. So rest would be good. And this is one of the convictions I have facing, to legitimately let God take the reins while I lie down for a while. It’s so frustrating to want things so bad, and not see any visible progress take place. But perhaps this is the lesson God has for me in this time, to let go and let Him steer my life.

Point 2: Faith demands Works

James is perhaps my favorite book of the Bible, and this idea is central to what James is teaching the church. I made the decision at the end of the school year to take a break from volunteering regularly at my church, in the interest of pursuing teaching opportunities and freeing up my schedule. Ironically, the opposite has happened, as I am busier now and miserable because I’m not nearly as involved at my church. James makes the point that faith without works is dead, which can also be taken on the flipside to mean that faith with works is alive! And honestly, I felt more alive serving in my church than I do now. I’ve always been someone who thrives helping in the background, facilitating the good work done by those gifted in evangelism and presence. And having not done much service lately, has noticeably effected my livelihood. And it isn’t just the church in which I wish to serve, but my community as well. This desire is a large part of why I desire a teaching position in the community I already reside, as it would give me greater opportunity to be involved in the lives of the people here. Faith is not just about saying the right things and knowing the right things (which btw knowledge is my thing) but doing the right things. Matthew 25:31-46 is the perfect example of what this will look like come judgment day. Our faith will be proved by the lives we blessed through our service, not through our words. It is not nearly enough to wish someone well, but to give them aid as you are able. This is something God has convicted me of lately.

Point 3: God knows

Something I struggled with is uncertainty. I’m not someone who can stand not knowing something I think I should know. This is a point of great stress and anxiety in my life. Yet as I’ve recommitted myself to reading and studying Scripture, and edifying my brothers and sisters in Christ with my knowledge, I am continually blown away by how impossibly vast God is. Like immeasurably unknowable. And to think He already knows all things, this just blows my mind. And all He asks of me is faith, and through this I am justified through Christ, and sanctified through the Holy Spirit. And if God knows exactly what is ahead (see Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:25-31) and is more than capable of caring for my every need, how much more should I stop all my worrying? This points back to my conviction on faith, but even more so reveals I struggles with control. I have walked a tightrope between blind faith and utter control freak most of my adult life, and this struggle is one-sided. That is to say, I’m struggling against myself here. This is one of the tests God has given me, to surrender all control to Him so he can use me in the accomplishment of His good work (Romans 8:28).

 

Now that I’ve spent nearly 75 minutes pouring conviction into script, I need to let my heart and mind rest. Not just today, but every day. Dear readers, I encourage you to do the same. Let God holds the reins of your life, they are much safer in His hands, as they are already big enough to hold the whole world. It’s a silly thing to think that trusting God with something so small takes so much faith, but then perhaps that is the difference between accepting Christ as our Savior, and accepting him as our Lord. We must die to the self daily, put our faith into action, and let God be glorified in us and through us. Cheers and amen.

 

 

 

S.D.G.

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Cultivating the Creative Consciousness

With the school year winding down and opportunities to substitute becoming as scarce as water in the desert, I’m forced to consider what I’ll be doing with myself over the summer. Summer often presents new possibilities and a chance for more activity than colder months, but I’ve often grown complacent and content in doing the simple and mundane tasks. Rather than just do the usual, I’ve thought about what I could do to spice it up this summer. This got me thinking about the qualities I value in others and the first thing that stuck out is the creative nature of people.

You see, I’m draw to the creative expressions of other people. Artists, builders, designers, creators, inventors, writers, dancers, painters, photographers, engineers, etc. Y’all amaze me. You take something unnoticed or undervalued and breathe life into it. Perhaps I appreciate these things more because I do not have that level of talent myself. Personally, my creative talents lie in my mind’s ability to design and create using words and phrases. And I enjoy doing so! I have several story (as in novels) ideas lying around and I might, just might, work on finishing one of them this summer. But let me get back to the purpose of this post…

I want to encourage everyone, no matter what your vocation or hobby, to keep giving it your all. You are needed! You create things for others they often don’t realize they need! Even those of you who don’t create in a traditional sense, remember you are creating moments and experiences every second of every day. Life is about creating memories and every moment counts. So I encourage you all, dear readers, to be not discouraged if you feel undervalued or lacking creativity in your daily life because I assure you memories are anyone’s forte. Value each moment, treasure each interaction, and cherish those memories you create!

 

 

S.D.G.

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A Mental Endeavor in (and of) Labor

Too long have I waited to write down my thoughts and feelings, partially to personal apathy and perhaps more so to the ambitions of personal entertainment I indulge in frequently. Yet I often feel the reason I write so infrequently is because nothing truly happens, but rather everything only changes in my head. I am blessed with the curse of unexcitement, that is to say I have very little craziness in my life right now. The most drama I have to deal with on a daily basis is the confused clientele at work and the nagging of my parents at home. Were my circumstances different I might complain, but in all the honesty my deceitful bones can summon I am truly content. However today has prompted me to consider where I stand, a week shy of my 24th birthday, and where I wish to go…

Earlier today I read an article from Relevant Magazine entitled “11 Things You Should Know by 25ish“, and #1 jumped out at me right away (not because it’s at the top but because of what it addresses).  A job I enjoy, well that’s a tough one at first thought, because there are a lot of things I enjoy doing.  I’ve spent almost a third of my life working in some form of customer service, whether it be running a register, answering someone’s desperate question, making people’s meals, or cleaning up their messes, and it is always the smile they give at the end that makes my time worth giving.  I have to face that fact: I enjoy helping people.  However I have a great passion for working with youth, something I have developed over the years by volunteering at various camps, helping out at youth group functions, and spending my summers as a camp counselor.  As I “mature” (as if the inner child in me would actually allow me to do so), I find the appeal of teaching to have grown.  Therefore I would consider any work (or any job) I currently hold or made hold until I can obtain the proper licensure and position to become a teacher as temporary at best.  This mindset would give my dad, a CPA and business professor at the local university, fits because he is a firm believer of the stewardship philosophy. Let me explain…

Stewardship, in the Christian sense, makes everything pointless and at the same time irrevocably precious.  Nodding back to Exodus 20:9-11, I acknowledge God created us to be creators, to labor within his creation. In terminology consistent with this paragraph, God has made us stewards of his creation so we can further create.  Therefore what is a steward?  Webster defines a steward as : “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.”  We are made in God’s image and are to manage God’s creation, using the talents and rights He granted us to accomplish His Will and glorify his name.  It is for this reason Johann Sebastian Bach signed all of his works S.D.G., shorthand for Soli Deo Gloria, to signify it was not for personal fame he composed but for the ultimate glorification of the one who has created all things good.  If we labor with the same mindset as Bach, why do we complain at work or gripe about our jobs?  Because we have lost sight of the things that truly matter.  As Christians we should be the employees everyone wants to hire and the bosses everyone wants to work for…

Another thing I took in tonight were seven simple economic principles that should help shape our mindset toward our endeavors in the workplace and the handling of the goods we come to possess. They are:

  1. All things belong to God.
  2. God has appointed man as his “creative steward” with ownership rights within His creation.
  3. Stealing (or coveting) another’s goods is wrong.
  4. Skills and the ability to work comes from God.
  5. Work is profitable, good, and to be pursued; laziness is not.
  6. Love God and not your goods.
  7. Be compassionate and generous with your goods to those in need.

A brief summary is as such: what you have is not your own, and should be treated as such, and that which others have is not something you should lust after or try to obtain, whether it be material or immaterial.  Now with that said I feel a couple important issues need to be addressed.  First, the notion of work.  Some people use the phrase “real jobs” to differentiate between what they get paid for and what they enjoy doing.  Work is not something to be classified as “real” or “fake”, to say that getting paid by the hour makes me less of a person than someone with a salary makes me sick.  Get off your philosophical high horse and find a way to boost your fellow man with your efforts, not discover new ways to trample theirs underfoot (or hoof).  Work is that which we do to further God’s kingdom, whether or not we receive compensation.  I firmly believe that if we strive to glorify God with our labor, He will be pleased with our efforts and send us the means to continue our endeavors.  Second, being compassionate with our excess does not mean just handing out meals or volunteering at the local shelter once a month, it means finding ways to help those in need provide for themselves. The Indian proverb has never rung truer “give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”  One of the problems in our society is that we are too easily content with simply handing out food to the poor so they will stop complaining that we ignore the possibilities that would allow them to feed themselves.  I’m not saying the welfare system is evil, I just feel it is too easily abused and taken advantage of.  Similarly Social Security is not quite the answer we need when time comes to retire (what is retirement anyway?) because it forces those who work to pay for those who no longer will.

Now back to my original dilemma, where am I headed with my life, now approaching my 24th year of living.  If I had to picture the perfect future 5 years from now, I’d envision myself with a job I love completely, a wife I love more than myself, and a child, maybe two, whom I’d lay my life down for, and a home I can call my own.  Now I’d admit this is rather ambitious, considering I currently work retail (which I enjoy but don’t love per say), am single (what to do lol), and barely have enough money to my name to make payments on student loans (ie- poor).  Needless to say I would need to change my circumstances some, and to that end I push.  I find relocation to be the top of my list of things to accomplish, as my parents have become increasingly hostile to my presence in their home (ie- I’ve overstayed my welcome), and I have better opportunities (and social habits) when living with friends away from my family.  Should that occur I would not only increase my joy of living (or at least I would hope this is an effect of doing so) and be able to spend more time with those I enjoy being around and desire to do so, but also grow as an independent individual.  Then comes an obstacle to this plan, employment.  To make a relocation completely realistic I would need to find solid employment in the area I wish to move to, therefore a job search ensues, with many leads but currently without fruit.  Now I’m a very one-track kind of person, I see an opportunity and hone in on it.  This often causes me to neglect other possibilities to a fault.  Part of me just wants to get away from where I am while another part sees how much trouble it would be to enable myself to do so and therefore refuses to go through with it.  So again I find myself at an impasse of where I am and where I what to be.

Yet I am becoming even more so determined to pursue life with a single mindset, glorifying God by being the best steward of that which He has given me as humanly possible.  Whether I do find that job I’ve always want or the woman I know I’d spend the rest of my life with, I choose to continue to sign off each night with three simple letters…

To my friends and family who always support me even when I prove myself to be unlovable, thank you. To those who don’t know me, my life is lived for the one who made me and for his purpose.

S.D.G.

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