Saturday, May 11, 2013

What I Want


Have you ever stopped to think about what you really want?

If I’m honest, it’d be easier to count the moments in the day when I’m not thinking about what I want. During a given day, a sample of my base wants would go something like this: More sleep. Less traffic. More coffee. More time to myself. Lunch. A minute to relax. Can I get a nap? Where’s that email I’m waiting on? Get me out of this meeting. Afternoon junk-food fix. Less traffic. More time with Laurin. More hours in the day. More sleep.

But these wants and “needs” are really just cover for a deeper battle lying beneath the surface. Sometimes our battle is for core desires that everyone shares. We all want to be loved, to be known, and to give our lives away to something bigger than ourselves. 

Other times, our battle is for things that God wired us specially to desire. God has given us talents, skills, personality, and temperaments. These will usually dictate what activities, what work, and what relationships we’ll seek out. That’s one of the reasons one person can be utterly happy in a certain job, while someone else is completely miserable.

I have a friend who looked everywhere for a teaching job straight out of college. When he couldn’t find one in time for the school year, he took a job behind a desk, in a gray cubicle, doing some joyless, repetitive task on a computer. After a day of processing something like TPS reports, he told his boss he didn’t think the job was a good fit and resigned. 

When he got home, his answering machine light was blinking. (This was back before everyone had a smartphone in their pocket and people instead had messages waiting for them at home.) It was the headmaster of a Christian school in the area. He had called to extend a job offer to my friend. No sooner had his unemployment started than it ended. He walked away from what he considered a soul-sucking, life-taking job and into the exact kind of position he had been seeking. The teaching position lined up with his personality, his gifts, and above all, his desires. 

For a long time, I hated that story. I spent a number of years doing jobs I hated, and how I would have loved to come home to that blinking answering machine light telling me that my time in purgatory was over. But that never happened for me. Instead, I’ve moved slowly out of one career into another. And even today, I can’t say that I’ve arrived at my dream job. I still have my share of TPS reports to complete.

It’s not that corporate life is “bad” and something more ministry-minded and creative is “good.” For someone out there, as hard as it is for me to imagine, TPS reports actually make their heart smile.

Praise God for that. The world needs TPS reports. I think.

Probably.

But I’m learning to enjoy the good things in my job that line up with how God has wired me, and I’m also learning to see the things that don’t line up with my wiring as proof that God has indeed made me special. I’m trying to use my hours outside of the office to seek out those things that bring me joy. And I’m still nudging my way toward those places that my heart desires to explore. 

It was a turning point when I realized that my feelings were not merely the selfish cravings of my sinful nature; they were indications that God had indeed created me differently than everyone else. That’s good news—I have a purpose and an adventure to look forward to.

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