Sunday, September 30, 2007

Discovering That My Place is Right/Here

I've sorta begun to look for a new job. Sorta. I'm still working on the latest social research project and still liking it. In many ways this job is terrific and a great fit for me. There is a great deal of variety in this job so it's never boring. I get to meet all kinds of people and learn about their lives. There's just enough administrative work that I'm forced to stay organized. I get to work at my own pace, play on my personality strengths and improve my weaknesses. I'm trusted to do my job without much supervision. I set my own hours and work when I want to. I always learn a lot when on each project. But...I'm really tired of the constant inability to schedule more than a week or two in advance. I never know if I'll be working in a month, let alone 3 months. At the beginning of a project I work 40 hours a week for the first several weeks and that dwindles down to many weeks of 10 hours at the end (and we never know exactly when the end of project will happen). When a project ends, I never know how long it will be until the next one will start; could be a month, could be 6 or more. This job is wonderful but completely unreliable.

So, I've tentatively begun looking for something else.

I am looking for something in the non-profit sector. I want to do good work-"right livelihood". I really enjoyed the job I had as volunteer coordinator working with families of prisoners several years ago. Unfortunately, even in non-profits, a degree seems to have become required. Used to be that not-for-profits had a lot of flexibility and would look at a person's experiences and enthusiasm but that seems to have changed over the last few years. Now, the job listings all state the minimum requirement as a Bachelor's degree. It's frustrating to me that I can't qualify for a job that my skills, personality and experiences make me perfect for because I don't have a degree. I wonder if I should go to school to get a degree but I don't feel called to a particular direction or vocation and I get bored too easily to spend the time and money to get a degree arbitrarily.

I've written before about my longing to be "called" by God. I yearn to have a clear understanding of the direction I should head and I'd love to know that I'm doing the work God wants me to do.

I sent my resume and a cover letter to a Baptist women's job training organization about a position as "satellite coordinator" last week. Before I wrote, I thought long and hard about whether I would be able to work with a bunch of fundamentalist Christian women. The agency sounds like a good one and I like what I've seen of the work they do. I believe in their mission statement: "Being Christ in our community". I think I've matured to the point of being able to work with others who believe differently from myself without getting all offended and offensive. On Friday, the director called to do a pre-interview. She asked me about my spiritual beliefs. She was enthusiastic about my being Quaker because she and her husband had done a Marriage Enrichment early in their marriage with a "wonderful" Quaker couple. She asked if I would be comfortable praying with the clients. I answered honestly that I pray in silence and would be comfortable doing so with others, speaking only when lead by the Spirit to speak. She responded positively that my answer is in keeping with the agency's goals of letting the clients lead the relationship. Unfortunately, I had to decline the job because it is in another county and I'm still car-free and couldn't get there.

Today was Meeting for Worship. As I was leaving, I stopped one of my GIL companions to see if she and her son would be attending the NFM Fall Retreat. As we were talking, she began telling me about a situation causing her worry, sadness and stress. I was able to offer some suggestions which she seemed to find helpful. Then, another person approached to suggest that I get in touch with some of the members of one of the other nurturing groups to see if they would like me to facilitate their next meeting to help them establish their focus, which I will and am happy to do.

I have been fretting about work and jobs and my place in the world a great deal lately. I feel frustrated that I still, at age 42, don't know what I'm going to do when I grow up. I have a low boredom threshold and can't see doing any one job for the rest of my life (or really more than a few years, truth be told). I sometimes think there is something wrong with me that I can't knuckle down and just commit to something like all the other adults in my life did decades ago.

But today, on my way home from Meeting, I had a little calming of my soul. I had the glimmer that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I had the insight that God is working through me in my everyday life. I don't have to make a big, dynamic commitment to a career in order to be called. I am able to have the time and energy to organize Growing In the Light because I'm not committed to a career. I am helping others on their spiritual path and I am learning and growing so much in the process. God is using me. I am being supported and nurtured and loved by my community and by God through my community. For some time I've felt that everything I've done and learned and studied and experienced will one day add up to something which I can use in the service of God. I trust that when I am ready, my path will lead me there. Today, I am thankful that I am able to give to this beautiful community something of value and that I am nurtured by it, in return.


Liz Opp said...

Mary Linda,

Much of this post reflects my own (short) journey in the work-for-a-living world: I know I have solid organizational skills and a commitment for doing a job well. But I need a variety of things to do and I need to have a fair amount of say when doing them, and so having a boss has been a challenge.

Like you, I've wondered if something's wrong with me, why I could never settle down with a long-term, routine job like so many in my family and among my peers. I guess I've been needed elsewhere, and fortunately I've had the financial freedom so I could worry less about the paycheck and focus more on how God is using me.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Eileen Flanagan said...

Dear Mary Linda,

I also relate to much of your experience. I remember seeing the movie Fame in high school and wondering what was wrong with me that I didn't have one thing I was passionate about and brilliant at so my life course would be set. Although I still have that struggle sometimes, one thing that helped me was taking the Myers Briggs Type Indicator at Pendle Hill and having a consultation with Catherine Myers who looked at my ENFJ score and said, "Oh, you are the kind of person who likes to do something till you get really good at it and then move on to something else." It was a huge relief to me to have her say that wanting new challenges was just a normal part of my personality, which helped me to see how God was giving me different opportunities to develop a set of skills that could be used in different situations.

Another thing that helped was a book that I blogged about a few weeks ago ( I didn't intend to come over here and plug a post, but it was really helpful to write a broad mission statement for my life that could encompass different activities at different times. Sometimes it helps me in the everyday discernment to remember what my big purpose is.

I hope you don't have to wait too long for answers that will fulfill you and enable you to use your gifts for others.

Martin said...

I read one your post that u did like 3 years ago...abt knowing whether that was where God wanted to know.

I hope you have been able to know your life calling that God has for you.

If you haven't, please try this site and watch the promo dvd about having a purpose in life and doing what God really created you to do.

You can get in touch with John for more help on the same.

God bless you in all your endeavors!