I sometimes feel like a twenty-seven year old boy.
Last Friday, I shared with you all the things I’ve ever wanted to do with my life. I’ve taken a few detours since high school. Nothing exciting, like having a stint in dealing drugs or being a tough-as-nails biker-gang-member-turned-bounty-hunter-with-a-mullet-and-a-TV-show. No one’s going to make a TV special about my life. I’ve tried narrating my life, in the grocery store or while driving, but it only tempts me to spice up my day by swerving recklessly through traffic, or knocking all the cereal boxes off the shelf, like I’m in a getaway scene in a movie…a movie that takes place in a grocery store.
Most of us haven’t made those kinds of detours. We didn’t drive our lives off a bridge. In fact, for most of us, every turn we made, seemed like the right one at the time. Yet, after ten years, things still aren’t quite the way we’d want them to be.
That’s what’s really frustrating.
It’s okay when you totally wreck your life and waste ten years. Looking back, it’s pretty obvious, and it makes a good story. What’s so much more maddening is realizing that perfectly good decision you made ten years ago completely screwed up your goals today.
I spent several years working toward a career in graphic design, before I decided that the ministry was the way to go. Okay, four years of school, not a complete waste. About halfway through seminary, it became apparent to me that God wanted me to be bi-vocational, and teaching was the way to go. Okay, studying education instead of art may have been the information I could’ve used back at high school graduation. So I finished seminary, and got rolling on an accelerated education program. Everything is looking promising, as there is a massive impending teacher shortage all over the country. Definately a growth field.
Then the economy spontaneously combusted. Jobs were eliminated. Salaries were frozen. No one’s hiring. That’s great. Despite completing graduate studies, being married for a few years, and being awesome in every other way, I have to admit I feel a bit childish to still be struggling with my career. And interacting online with so many people who have “made it,” and get to boast about all the ways they’re saving mankind, I sometimes wonder why God wants me to struggle like this. I want to save mankind too.
So I’ve been stuck for a couple of years in a job that I’m way overqualified to do, for way less money than can support a family, in an undesirable educational field that no one wants to get into, with no other opportunities to get out in sight.
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Sure, God had a good reason for putting me here. But I have an even better reason for wanting out. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I shouldn’t be performing my undesirable job so well that my employers would be reluctant to promote me where I want to go. One day last May, I spoke with a teacher who had aspirations of moving to another job that our employer had promised him. I asked how long he had been at this “temporary” job.
He answered, “Ten freaking years.”
That sealed it. I wanted out. Now. My wife said she would not allow me to stay at this job for ten years. I wasn’t arguing.
But if I want out that badly, God’s going to make me gamble for it.
God gave me some great confirmation about a new job. The day after I told him I needed confirmation, I got it in a totally unexpected way. But it’s still not nearly as much confirmation as I’d like. My new income is based on the number of students that enroll in this school, and they’re all procrastinators. But if I was going to quit my job, I had to do it this week. I couldn’t wait any longer for students to sign up.
So that’s what I did Wednesday morning. I quit my job. I took the gamble.
Most Christians say that gambling is wrong, but it seems like God makes people gamble all the time with way more than nickles and quarters. That’s kind of what faith is. And right now, I’ve got a lot of chips on the table. I could hit blackjack, or bust. I just hope this isn’t another huge detour. In the meantime, if you need a private tutor, I am available to teach you or your children math, reading, history, ninjitsu and other ninja stuff, tracing comic book drawings onto notebook paper, making forts, and being flipping sweet. Serious inquiries only. I don’t need any slackers.
Hey, I know this may be peanuts compared to the risks, gambles and detours you’ve taken. Let’s hear your big life detours. What part of your life didn’t turn out the way you planned? What seemed like a great decision at the time, but ended up making life more difficult for you ten years later?