October 19, 2009

Things I wish they told me after graduation

Sometimes, life moves at a crawl, and sometimes it moves really quickly. For the last few weeks, it has moved quickly.

For the last few years, my defining struggle has been to find my first full time job. 40 hours. Big paychecks. Rent due. Grocery shopping. Health insurance. It was the big hurdle, which when cleared would finally let me see some purpose, some direction, with clarity.

In the last few months, I came to appreciate that time. In the years after college, I obsessed over getting health insurance and income, seeking the definition and direction in a career. Life crawled.

But simultaneously, I lived a few pretty incredible memories. I spent a summer working in Orlando and got my work into a nationally-distributed publication. Later, I would see my name in a magazine on the rack in a bookstore in Grand Rapids. I went to Africa, slept in a tent with shreds of nylon between me and some hungry, loud hyenas. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. I learned phrases in Swahili, fought a wildfire, showed films to burgeoning crowds in the waning daylight before the skies glittered impossibly with the Milky Way. I saw that life in ministry, though unspeakably difficult, was full of joy, meaning, purpose. I came home, got really good at delivering pizzas, answered the call to go back to summer camp and be the old guy on staff. And I loved it.

I didn't notice this at the time, but: I lived. While I was waiting for a career, I found ways to fill the cracks in my life, and they became life, became memories. I wouldn't trade them for a cubicle.

But life sped up. A few weeks ago, I got a call for a job. Come down for an interview, they said. I did. And suddenly, a job offer. I took it. Years of struggle, at times painful and exhausting, shaking my fist at a God whose patience dwarfed my own, met with solution.

I liked wondering, waiting. I became accustomed to it; it became a familiar, comfortable foe. And now it's... gone. I miss it.

Can you tell that I'm sliding into cubicle life with a touch of restlessness? If this is the thing you're looking forward to, for meaning, for life, I can tell you that this is not where you will find it.

Lest you worry that I'm miserable, be assured, I am not: Restlessness is not misery. The last few years of my life, I was restless at times, but I was never miserable. I am not worried about where I am. Man has had to till the fields since the first guy screwed it all up for us and I'm eager to put in my work. And to be honest, today was only day one and it was good. This will be a good place to work and I'll probably enjoy it.

If finding a career, or a beginning to one, was a hurdle, I've cleared it. But there are a bunch more hurdles. There's a lot to figure out about where to go from here. That familiar, comfortable foe isn't totally gone.

(In the meantime, I'll just bang on me drum)

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