Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day Jobs

You know the expression, "Don't quit your day job?"

A "day job" is a job someone does to pay the bills while they pursue a passion on the side. Maybe they're a musician or a painter, a writer or jewelry maker. Maybe they want to start a bakery or come up with the next big invention. If you're a Christian doing ministry having a day job is often called "tent making." And of course, there are mothers who do a part-time or 'stay at home' type job to help make ends meet while they do full-time mothering (working shifts while the kids are at school; hosting Avon parties, etc.)

Some people are not the day job type people. They are career centric. Their passion doesn't require them to have to earn money elsewhere while they get off the ground, or they're lucky and get off the ground while they're young. Or maybe they just don't have that side passion, and their job is just a job to them, not a "day job."

As I was working this holiday season as a cashier, I reflected on "day jobs".  This post has been in process since then. I'm not sure if it's done, but it's time to write it down already.

When I was graduating college I talked to a lot of people, including our career counselor, about how I didn't know what I wanted to do in life.  Actually, I had this conversation way before and also after then. It shakes people. They don't really care if you say that when you're a college freshman, but if you're still saying it when you've turned twenty, you need to hurry up and "focus".

And the truth is, part of me knew what I wanted to do... it just didn't seem like a legitimate answer. It's like when you're filling out a form and there's a multiple choice question... but not a one of them seems to adequately describe your answer to the question. 

When it comes to people, I do not shy away from commitment. With friends, once I'm your friend I'd like to be your friend for life. It baffles me (and hurts me a little) why people like to do facebook friend purges. Once you're my friend, you've got my loyalty for life, even if we've not been friends since we were seven. And if people mistreat me, I want to try and try and try to work things out before we part ways. You can stand me up, you can hang up on me, you can tell rumors about me and I still won't want to end things unless we have to... I'm not sure why God wired me this way, but He did. I commit fast, I commit easily, I commit long term. I have no fear of the covenant of marriage. Within two weeks of meeting Ryan I wanted us to be "boyfriend and girlfriend". I am not in the slightest a commitment phobe....

But that's when it comes to people. When it comes to things, it's another story. Especially jobs! See, whenever I'd ask myself the question, "What job would you not grow to hate if you did it 40 hours a week for 5-10 years?" my heart would palpitate and I'd honestly say, "I can't think of anything." (I didn't say 'for the rest of your life' because most adults change jobs frequently anyway so there was no need to scare myself.)  It didn't mean I'd hate everything, but 40 hours a week, every week, is a lot of time to devote to something you don't really care about, and may even loathe.  And even if it's something you love to do, doing it that much makes it lose its magic. I think this is one reason why I do so many different creative outlets... after going through a crocheting frenzy, I'm sick of it and don't want to do it for at least six months. So then out comes the  jewelry making supplies until that loses its joy...

I have only had temporary jobs since I graduated from college. Now, I didn't shy away from applying for more long term jobs, and at times I really wanted them, but it doesn't really upset me I've never gotten one. I relax at the idea of not being locked in. Sure, I may not know if I will be able to pay the bills, but I won't be letting anyone down if I hate this job and leave in a few months. And if I like it, well all the better.

The real answer to "what do you want to do?" was something I figured out a few years ago. It wasn't a legitimate answer to most people, but it was a genuine answer. I wanted to be a homeschool mom. Since I wasn't a mom, wasn't married, and there's no way that pays the bills anyway the only people who liked that answer were homeschooling parents and a few of my friends who wanted to be homeschooling parents.

See, homeschooling has more to do to committing to people. And it's filled with variety, with the different subjects, different grade levels. If I don't want to do standard school, I can load the kids up and we can head to a local museum on a "field trip".  I've researched it to the gills, as much as I can without actually doing it, and I just love homeschooling. I got a passion for it from having many friends who were home-schooled and grew into the most well-rounded, intelligent, just plain awesome people ever. I had it figured out...

Then, God started to also show me more.  I can't go into it all, but God gave me vision for other things He wants me to do, to get my hands messy in. And like homeschooling, it works for me because it's committing to people, not a product, a procedure, or an organization. And not just committing to people, but committing to God. And, like homeschooling or even this blog, it doesn't really pay a thing.

Which brings us back to day jobs. As I was working as a cashier this past holiday season, I found myself in a unique position I'd never been before: I was working towards something. Not that I've not saved up for items before, but this was different. This wasn't about me.

When my back would hurt or my patience would be worn thin I'd think, "every minute brings me a little closer to India." And I'd break into a big smile.

I'd be tired or just bored of the monotony and I'd think, "You're doing so you can be with Ryan." And I'd feel peace.

I also prayed. And I tried to treat each person in my line with respect and as from the Lord. I did my job as to the Lord... but I also did it for India. For Ryan. For my future.

And so in a way, I realized something more about day jobs. In the past I'd work to pay off a cell phone bill or have money so I could afford to hang out with my friends, and it was good. It was needed. But it wasn't "worth it."  I didn't feel like I was working for any real purpose and I had horrible job satisfaction. I felt tired and like "Why oh why do we live in a world where this is necessary?"

And I'd worry if God ever put me in the position where I did have to be a breadwinner I'd fail utterly because I just crumble and implode when those jobs stressed me. I'd not want to get out of bed every morning I had to work. I was falling apart.

But not this time. Not with this job. Because I was working for my future. For the destiny God has called me to, and to be in my future husband's arms. I was working for my family.

And it gave me insight into how single parents do it. It gave me insight how my own parents did it. And it made me realize that I am not really incapable of work the way I thought. The stress and such does make me implode... if I'm working for myself. Any job can seem useless and about products, procedures and organizations, not about people, if I'm working for myself.

But any job can become about people when you're working for someone.

You know how I said I've been stewing on this one for about a month? Well, regardless, that conclusion is fresh. I love how God uses my writing to show me things, as well as to share with you.  I thank God for you. And I hope you know that this blog of mine is a lot of work (about 1-7 hours daily) and I earn no income from it, but I blog for you. And for me. And for God.  But you're a part of it. You are amazing, and I love you. I pray for you. You've got my loyalty. Just so you know.


  1. This is a BIG realization. I think too many young adults today, aren't really adults at all, because they miss the point of working. Even though I know this in theory I forget often, because the "payoff" is years away. As long as we work for ourselves, I think we miss the whole point of adulthood, much less the point of life in God. It's not about US. It's about Him, and the people He's given us to care for. Praise God for giving you the vision afresh.

  2. Thanks Lydia. Actually your comment made me re-read my post. It's amazing how I sometimes write something on here and then let it go...

    It also made me smile to myself because I realized as I read the fickle passions paragraph (about crocheting and the like) that I'd (temporarily) forgot about my blog. I've been doing this for over three years and I'm not in the slightest tired of it. There are always exceptions to the limitations we think we have, at least when we give our efforts to God.

  3. I am working for almost five years I passed my High school but still not able to figure out what do I really like to work on! Even in school I was unprepared simply because I was different in my outreach thinking and also no guidance but my Mom is really a source of encouragement for me because she was also a single parents till i was 17 years old as my dad passed away when I was very small but your post made me realize so many things and its really great to know that at least I am not one of the type who think differently but there are few thoughts that you shared are exactly like what I think. It was really encouraging keep writing!!!! And waiting for you to come here.......


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