I have been trying since 2008 to figure out what I am going to do with my life. At that point I had a job I could do, but several things happened: I got a bad boss, I switched to overnight shifts, my wife got tired of it, and my pastor confronted me oddly. So we went to Colombia. I tried teaching English; hated it. Not that I hate teaching advanced English, but I worked for a company rigid about its ideology and perverse about assigning me to elementary students. So I was glad to leave that for the offer of pastor-in-training. That was not ideal either, but life is not ideal anyway. I enjoyed the teaching and studying and struggled as I could with the limitations to study there imposed. Was not looking forward to the pastoring, did not enjoy it, and felt things like poetry and aspirations dying out of my life. In the end, that was blocked, much to my relief, and I gratefully left the third world.

I was walking with Katrina Saturday night after my stupid job, trying to enjoy the fact of the coming holiday and puzzling over this which has puzzled me for a long time. If I hate my job, why not just get another one? The problem in the past being my disinterest in business, in a career, in getting ahead. I’m not acquisitive. I don’t know that I’m of that world.

I did want to avoid thinking the way white people like to sometimes that one is special and there is a very special job out there waiting for you, to make you happy and fulfilled and in contrast with all the people living in the third world will leave you comfortable and pleased with yourself. You know what I mean? God deals in disappointments as well; they’re part of the life of faith. He takes away to show us that he is enough, and he is. But the other end of that approach is to think you don’t matter. That’s the end I was stuck on: I was asking myself who am I to resent doing customer service and being micromanaged? There are so many good things in my life, isn’t the Lord enough for me? Why can’t I be satisfied?

But God works through means. There are baffling portions to our life, but not, I think, continuously unending baffling portions. If one is unhappy with the circumstances, perhaps it isn’t because the problem is with one, perhaps, but that one is not in the right circumstances. I have been spending my time trying to figure out what I’m going to do (besides becoming an author of science fiction, which is always the long-term goal). Looking for alternative jobs, I keep running into the requirement of a PhD for what I really want to do. I’ve talked to two people in my life who have made a statement that stuck with me, thought I didn’t until now understand it. One was a seminary professor and the other is a member of our church who teaches music history. Both said the same thing: I figured out that I wanted to teach, so I got a PhD. Something like that. I remember both times–years apart–how they said it and how I found it was odd. But now I understand. It is just what you have to get if you are going to do what you are most inclined to. It isn’t about achieving some remote proud summit of learning reserved for the few, it is just the basic requirement for teaching at an advanced level.

It makes sense of my life so far too, with which I’d been struggling: the trajectory and the closed doors and everything. What I haven’t figured out is exactly what I’ll study, where to apply. And all this is before I’m even accepted. That could be the next disappointment. But it is also the next move either way.


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