Hard But Good

Bad boss - the Devil Wears Prada.png

I’ve been asking God lately to release me from my current place of employment.

Over the past seven years, I’ve explored leaving my current job countless times – going to seminary to become a biblical counselor, going to art school to become a graphic designer, interviewing for same-industry-but-smaller-company procurement jobs, interviewing for different-industry-but-still-major-company procurement jobs, interviewing for management consulting firms… None of them have panned out, and I believe it is because God has not yet “released” me from my current place of employment.

I could, of course (of my own volition) just choose to quit my job, leaving without having another job in place. Some people at my own church have encouraged me to take this “step of faith”, believing that God will only provide me with another job once I have proven my dependence on Him. This might be, but I think God calls us not only to faith but also to wisdom and prudence. Sometimes it takes just as much faith to stay as it does to leave. And I don’t want to leave preemptively, taking matters into my own hands; I believe it is for my good to wait on God’s timing. I’m just hoping He doesn’t decide to put me through 25 years of waiting like Abraham or – worse yet! – 40 years of waiting like Moses!

I’ve been asking for the past few months, “God, do you still want me to stay at my current job?”, and the answer I’ve been getting about my current job is: “It’s not hard, but it’s also not good.”

If I wanted to leave my current job because it was too hard, and I just wanted to quit, that would be a red flag. There is benefit to being long-suffering and learning to be dependent on God. But God doesn’t tend to call us to difficult things just for the sake of the difficulty. The best challenges in life are hard but good, like a solid workout that leaves you both drained and energized. It’s painful but for our betterment. And my current job is not that way. It’s neither hard nor good.

My job is easy. It’s boring. I get paid a ridiculous amount of money to do very basic, menial tasks that are neither fun nor challenging. It would be easy to be complacent, choosing to stay in this easy but unfulfilling, lucrative but simultaneously fruitless station in life. For many people, my current situation is ideal: an undemanding job with high pay. But I don’t believe God is glorified by easy, comfortable complacency with easy payouts that require nothing of us: no discipline, no hard work, not heart investment.

My job is not “hard but good”. It’s comfortable and easy and unfulfilling. That is not the model of the Christian life; it is the antithesis of the Christian life. The Christian life should not be comfortable; it should be challenging. The Christian life should not be unfulfilling; Jesus came that we may have life to the full. And sometimes (often!) experiencing the fullness of life also comes with working hard; working passionately toward something that matters and has impact.

In recent weeks, I have started to see the ropes begin to fray; the ties that bind me to my job are dissolving. Between a deplorable performance review (wrongfully given) last month and an intense meeting with HR yesterday morning, I am starting to see that my time at this company is indeed coming to a close.

I’m not going out the way I wanted to – liked, respected and valued – but fortunately, the ones who actually know me still hold me in high esteem and have even encouraged me that this poor rating is a blessing in disguise. God is working through my critical, close-minded boss to finally release me from a company I’ve been hoping to escape for years.

The rejection and wrongful performance scores are difficult to swallow, but my boss would have no power over me if it were not given to her from above (Rom. 13:1). Jesus promised us that in this world we would have trouble, but take heart! He has overcome the world and is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Authentically Aurora

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Fostering Hope for Foster Kids

Foster BabysitterPart of the human condition is to long for what we don’t have. Every season of life, we reach for the next or dwell on the past. Single people want to be married. Married couples sometimes wish they were still single. Students wish they were finished with school and out in the “real world”. Those of us working in the corporate realm sometimes long for the freedom of being back at university.

When I was in high school, everything I did was striving toward the goal of getting into West Point. I was the captain of my soccer team, president of my Girl Scout troop, an officer of the National Charity League, member of both student council and National Honor Society, as well as a straight-A student.

I was not the kid whose parents pushed them to work harder, study more and get better grades. I actually got grounded from reading. My parents insisted that I start getting Bs and Cs and that I go out and play more. They had the wisdom I did not at that age; that life is short, and if we are always straining for the next season without enjoying the present, what kind of life is that?

Now instead of feeling perpetually angry and frustrated because I dislike my job, feel unappreciated at work and am pushing 30 with no true marriage prospects in sight, I want to enjoy this season of singleness. There is so much I can do in this chapter of life where I have freedom from spousal responsibility. My parents are still in good health. I have no husband, no children and no pets. I am freer than I will ever be. The world is my oyster.

Last Sunday, I went to an information session on being certified to be a babysitter for foster kids. Did you know that foster parents can only hire certified babysitters to watch their foster children? God has placed within me a longing to build people up and inspire them to be who they were created to be. I am excited about the possibility of learning the unique passions and talents of the foster kids I babysit and then bringing a corresponding project for us to work on together.

I could bring my guitar and write songs with kids interested in music. I could bring my spare SLR camera and teach artistic kids about the light triangle and the effects of adjusting aperture settings. I could bring model airplane sets or a book of logic puzzles. The possibilities are endless. Each activity would be tailored to the needs and interests of each individual foster child.

I would love to spark to flame the inner potential of these kids so many others have overlooked. My heart longs to heal the hurting and uplift the downtrodden; to encourage those without hope and speak truth into those plagued by insecurity. God has placed within me a desire to, in the words of Frederick Buechner, help others find “the place where [their] deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Authentically Aurora

Notes to Self

Sometimes during long conference calls at work, I doodle or write notes to myself in the back pages of my office notepads. Occasionally I flip through these back pages to rediscover the partially-coherent thoughts or ideas I jotted down while trying to remain conscious during one mind-numbing meeting or another.

This morning, I came across these two pages that I evidently scribbled back in August. When I read them today, I marveled at the fact that I knew five months ago what it has taken me until this year to begin implementing in earnest.

On an unrelated note, you will see that I tend to write my letter “r”s as capitals, even in the middle of woRds. Apparently this means I am defiant and don’t like to be told what to do.

Yep, sounds about right.

“The defiant person doesn’t like to be ‘managed’ and is always alert for any sign of unjust authority…Usually it takes the form of a capital letter… Most handwriting analysts talk about the defiant k… the ‘go-to-hell’ k… We have also included a capital R in the middle of a letter… Defiance is a defense of the ego. It says, ‘I defy you to criticize me, to attempt to hurt me.’ …This personality trait is VERY common among Americans… based on the overwhelming need to defy the odds, face the threats, and stomp down those who would steal our freedom… Americans will continue to be defiant. It is in the genes.”

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Journal 2

Authentically AuRoRa

The Dream of Someone Else

DreamingThank you to everyone who has lovingly supported me over the past six months – and especially over the past couple of weeks as I’ve wrestled over the way forward with Bryan.

A special thank you goes out to Ashley, my stalwart, steadfast friend through whatever comes. Yesterday (pre-breakup), she sent me pretty much the best email a friend can send to someone in my situation:

“Breaking up with someone to beat them to the punch is not a very good reason to break up with someone, but, breaking up with someone because they aren’t treating you like you deserve & not respecting/pursuing you is a good reason.  So, while you should not use beating him to the punch as a reason, based on your blogging and what you’ve told me you do have other reasons.  I don’t want to try and convince you of which direction to go or force my opinion on you. So just know that I will support you with whatever you decide to do.  But I will say, there is a lot of stress & frustration being put on you for a relationship that isn’t defined.  I love you lots friend and am praying for you!”

She gently pointed me in the right direction while reminding me that I am loved and supported by her regardless. She is seriously the best.

I’m doing better than expected today. Someone posted an article on Facebook this morning that reassured me of the rightness of my decision. It was a reminder of the kind of man worth waiting for. I want to settle down, but I don’t want to settle.

“Wait on the guy who finishes your chores for you – who comes through in little ways to let you know he cares. Wait on the man who looks you in your eyes and holds your gaze as he tells you you’re beautiful… Wait for that man who dreams big and invites you to dream with him. And when your dreams seem too big, too scary to ever come true, I hope you wait for the one who listens to your insecurities but then speaks truth into your heart and breathes confidence into your spirit. This man will bring you to tears by reading Proverbs 31 to you, telling you YOU’RE that woman, and believing it with every fiber of his being.”

That’s the kind of man I want – the kind of man I need – and Bryan was not that man. So I’m going to wait. Right now, there is not someone else, but as Kathleen Kelly said so beautifully, “There is the dream of someone else.”

Authentically Aurora