At the beginning of the year I posted my resolutions for 2011, with the intention of checking in on them once a quarter. I can tell you, all, repeat, all of them have gotten seriously derailed --- and that's okay. That's good, in fact. I know from long experience that my life is better when I am not trying to fit it into a particular plan. (While my resolutions were simple enough, I had created elaborate plans to execute them, those are what have gotten so completely off track).
And yet I still love making plans, even when they bite me in the butt. (The Dude likes to remind me that on our second date I showed up with a list of expectations/rules, with bullet points, no less. Verbal bullet points, I'll say in my very weak defense, I was not quite so lame as to show up with a written list.)
Anyways, among the many things I have been wrestling with over the last two months is the idea of conducting a "career search." Pulling out the old skills inventories, reading "Finding Your Own North Star," identifying my "true" passions, identifying what I like and what I find frustrating about my current work. All sensible stuff, yes? Except then I keep coming back to the desire to be a faithful disciple of Christ. You know, stuff like "present your bodies as a living sacrifice... Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God..."
(You'll just have to excuse the religious language here, it's the best means I have to express how I think about these matters.)
Do these two... methodologies, shall we say... have to be exclusive? No, and I think I can probably use some of the tools of the first to assist in the second. But the first way feels to me very me-centered (which really has not worked all that well for me in the past), whereas the second is God-centered (which has).
But I struggle with this always. I grew up with the expectation that I would "be" someone (presumably someone important by the measure of this world), and this expectation only grew as I went through high school. (I was, after all, voted "most likely to succeed.") And then I went to a college where it seemed the expectation was for everyone to go out and change the world, and in some way that then also brought glory upon oneself. While I know and even often feel that I have a good and blessed life, I really do struggle with the sense that I should be doing more with it. Especially in some way that also celebrates me.
Except I'm not comfortable with that. I often get attention for stuff I do (mostly at work) and it never seems right. Everything I do is done not by me alone but in working with others --- in the planning, often, and in the execution, always. I don't know how to reconcile the two, the sense that I "ought" to push forward me, me, me, and the very real knowledge (and deep gratitude) that I do nothing alone.
I think that is why I am, in the end, a professing Christian, despite my thorough knowledge of the failings of organized religion and religious people, and my certainly unorthodox beliefs. I need other people to be on the journey with, and this is not something I have been able to find for myself outside of the Christian church. (From Maya Angelou's poem, "When I Say I Am A Christian": When I say... "I am a Christian" / I don't speak of this with pride. / I'm confessing that I stumble / and need Christ to be my guide.)
On a less personal note, this week was the first flowering of two+ months studying and planning, a panel discussion on child sex trafficking here in Chicago. We had representatives from Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, The Dreamcatcher Foundation (an organization that does direct outreach to victims), the National Runaway Switchboard, and The Salvation Army's STOP-IT program (works against trafficking of all forms). Lots of enthusiasm and now we need to figure out a way to channel it in a way that actually helps and is sustainable over time. In the next weeks we'll be pulling together a number of possibilities for action and forming a study group specifically around how we might take action as a church.
And back on a personal note, this is a good example of something I would NOT have chosen for myself to explore and to bring to others. Too grim. Too overwhelming. Too heartbreaking. And yet I felt compelled to do so, and doors kept opening, and then even when I thought I might be able to walk away I was told by others of how important my witness had become to them --- so now here I am, being transformed, hopeful and curious about what may come next (even when fearful).
I do still need to update my resume, though.