I’ve been struggling in my professional life to find my place for some time now. I am college educated and have a mind for business. It runs in the family. But because of, well- life- I’ve ended up in government on the operational side of things providing support for executives. It’s easy work for me, but I feel like there’s something more I’m meant to do and I’ve struggled to figure out what that is. What is my contribution? Where should I be using my skills? Do I need new skills? Can I get a bigger pay check too while we’re at it?
I’ve been asking myself the same questions for well over a year now and in the last few weeks I began to wonder if my focus is wrong. Perhaps my contribution is not my “work.” Example – I thought I may need a new job in a place that has lots of opportunity for growth and movement so I’ve been searching and applying. I’ve applied for 12 jobs over the last 6 months and have only had one interview. That’s significant to me because with the exception of one (that I can remember), I’ve gotten every job I’ve ever interviewed for, if I even had to interview. I’ve been very fortunate in that way and I’m grateful for it. So when something that has always been so effortless suddenly isn’t, I have to step back and say, “what’s going on here?”
The place I wanted to work also involved a lifestyle change for my family. I would become a commuter. That meant no more quiet mornings on the couch with my baby because I’d have to leave the house before he gets up, getting home later, eating dinner later, more things to do in the evening to prep for the next day, and more responsibility on my husband around the morning routine. Although it required some sacrifices, the benefits seemed worth it. I mean who can argue with a 2-1 retirement match? Ironically, the longer time passed the more I have questioned if this pursuit is right for me. Do I really want to give those things up? Can my family really handle that change? On top of that, the normally peaceful city in which I wanted to work is having a crime surge like I’ve never seen in my lifetime! It’s really unbelievable.
I also thought maybe I need new skills. So I researched and applied to go back to school. Simple right? Since I already have a bachelor’s degree, getting a second undergraduate degree takes less time and typically is easier to get into. I can skip all the general ed requirements and go straight to the good stuff. I met with the program advisor who welcomed me graciously and even mapped out a plan. I submitted my application and……..nothing. A process that normally takes no longer than 3 weeks has taken 3 months. To this day, it’s still not complete. I’ve requested transcripts, paid fees, and it’s still not done. Three weeks is now 3 months for reasons I can’t explain. Sign? As a person of faith, I tend to think so.
And then something unexpected happened. Someone with whom I had a casual friendship at work had something horrific happen in their life and I knew all too well how that felt. My heart ached for them. Suddenly, I found myself in a place where I was able to offer real support and share resources I used during my own dark time. It almost felt like my duty and fragments of bible verses began to bubble up in my mind…. “all things work together for good,” “be imitators of God,” “build one another up,” and “bear one another’s burdens.” If I had left this place, I wouldn’t have been here to lend that support, give encouragement and hopefully provide hope for their future. What a humbling experience.
As if that wasn’t enough, through normal daily conversation with my boss, we discovered that we have been mulling over and dealing with the same things, spiritually. Praying the same prayers and making similar insights into our lives. I was shocked……and then it hit me. Though I may not be in this place forever, right now this is where God wants me and it’s where he’s using me. My workplace contribution, my need to do work that “matters” is already present. I just didn’t see it. It’s been a lesson in humility and even more so, one of contentment. I don’t have to wear a power suit or be the boss or make six figures to make a difference in this world and neither do you. Listen and pay attention in your life. Your gift-your contribution-may be right in front of you. God may be giving you glimpses of it here and there. We just have to pay attention.