Oh Work….

It feels like a disproportionate amount of time an energy this past month has been focused on work.

Since Derek lost his job at the Roasterie, we’ve discussed jobs a lot: what kind of work he should look for now, what kind of work he might want to do long-term, what kind of work I want to do long-term, how all that fits in with the life we feel called to, etc. Derek has started looking into school more seriously and exploring what kinds of careers exist in the computer world. He’s talked to friends working various computer jobs, visited career counselors at several area colleges, and researched books at the library. This season without a job has been a blessing for him in the time it’s given him to consider what he wants to do long-term rather than just what will provide for this immediate seasons.

A couple weekends ago we had a middle-aged couple stay with us for the weekend (along with a single guy who has been traveling with them), which prompted more reflections on the place of work in our lives. This couple loves the Lord and are striving to walk by faith. They also believe that God has told them that they will never have to work a job again in their lives. For the past four years they have chosen not to work, instead living off of their life savings, then the money from selling their house, and now for the past eighteen weeks off of the provision of whoever will give them food, shelter, or money, living in their car and eating sporadically. They plan to do this indefinitely, believe God will provide for them. Though Derek and I know that God is faithful and provides for us (we’ve experienced that in our own lives time and time again), we were uncomfortable with their attitude towards work and unwillingness to pursue any type of work. We spent an interesting weekend talking to them and hearing their story, but then sent them on their way, armed with banana bread, prayers, and hopefully a sense of God’s love and truth.

And then, of course, there’s my job. That’s probably been the most challenging part of life recently. Outside of the expected frustrations with my boss and lack of organization in the program, I simply feel ill-equipped to handle this group of kids, much less have any sort of positive impact in their lives. I’ve worked with kids for years but this is the first time I’ve worked in a school setting, much less with this large of a group of kids (at least sixteen kids per teacher – sometimes more). Several days I’ve come home and started looking for jobs on craigslist because I feel like I just. can’t. do. it. In the past week I’ve been run over with a trash can (I did get a nice note later that afternoon saying “Ms. Rebecca I’m sorry for running you over and I will never do it again. I love you”), stabbed in the hand with a pencil, called fat, ugly, and mean, and told “I hate you” on a regular basis, among other things. It feels like chaos every day. Even when I’m not actually at work, I’m planning for work, talking about work, thinking about work, stressing about work, praying about work, or dreaming about work (the other night I dreamed that I got so frustrated with work that I quit….and then came back. Twice). I’ve been researching classroom management, talking to other teachers, and trying to stay rested and organized, but I still feel so unequipped, so ineffective.

But perhaps, in a funny way, that’s God’s grace. All this is growing my awareness of how much I need God. All the time. That prayer invariably comes up in my prayer each day, over and over: Abba, I need you! I need His provision. I need His wisdom. I need His favor. I need His authority. I need my time with Him every day. I need His voice, His presence, His reassurance. I need HIM. There is no way I can get by without Him, much less see the transformation and restoration I long for in the lives of these kids and in our neighborhood. Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant when He talked about being poor in spirit? Abba, if this is what it means to be poor in spirit, may I see You kingdom come here!

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6 Comments

  1. Wow! I completely relate with your living and breathing work – it is EXACTLY how I felt last year during my first year of teaching.

    If you have any questions please email me! I know I’m not a wild old sage at teaching, but I have learned a few things through my first year and would love to be of any help that I can. If anything, know that it will get better if you end up sticking with this for awhile. I’ll be praying for you!

    Reply
    • Thanks! The funny thing is that I’m not even a “real” teacher, just work for an after school program part-time. I guess I didn’t expect a part time job to eat up my life like that :-P. But it’s good to know that it gets better with time

      Reply
  2. Maureen

     /  October 12, 2010

    I highly recommend the book 48 days to the work you love by Dan Miller. It’s more about self discovery- figuring out who you are and what your gifts are so that you know what job to look for. I’m going through it myself right now and it’s good stuff. Blessings on you both!

    Reply
  3. wowser, all these questions and stuggles. i have lots of internal drama around these subjects myself. “what is the life work you have for me to do in this season, God?” i am always asking. sometimes it’s employment (paid work), sometimes it is something quieter that doesn’t guarantee income. but He provides where He leads.
    have courage at Troost, Rebecca. i suspect you’re a brighter light there than you imagine.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the encouragement! I’ve definitely had those quieter seasons of pursuing a work other than employment and God has done some significant, foundational heart work in me during those times, so I’m glad Derek is getting to experience one of those quieter seasons, too. And God has always provided enough…

      Reply

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