Vegetables vs. People

Remember when I used to post twice a week back in my good blogger days when I had at least some of the answers and life was slower and filled with the people I loved? Those days are long gone now. So much has changed now, and I know less than I did before. But I’ve had a precious opportunity to go back for a week to people. Summer camp…those magical words. Senior high…I’ve been there, done that shebang. I may not have much wisdom, but at least I can relate. The idea of summer, and being surrounded by excited brink-of-adulthood people, and wearing normal or abnormal clothes (my job makes me realize how much I took both jeans and Ts and being allowed to express my weirdness through my apparel for granted), and seeking God together, and being outdoors makes my heart light up in places that have been dim for quite some time. Actually, I’m afraid I’ll be discontent when I have to go back.

I’ve said it before, I don’t really mind my job. I like handling food, produce in particular, though by this point I’ve seen more than my fair share. The people are pretty amazing. They appreciate my weirdness (apart from the store owner). My boss works with me and forgives my stupid mistakes (like showing up for work two hours early due to bleariness from working mornings all week and general incompetence with numbers.) The money isn’t bad, and we’ve got a pay raise coming up here soon. Honestly, my only complaint is that my wrists being mutilated from the repeated motions of the wrapper. Writing two pages in a notebook never hurt like that before. But when your boss gets you a $10.00 pen for Christmas, it’s not exactly right to complain that your job is encumbering your writing either, is it? I’ve faced worse pain. I’ll survive.

No, I don’t mind my job much at all. There are good days and bad days, but such is life. Yet, while I don’t dislike my job, it also does not fulfill my passion. Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect that anymore. Maybe I’m stupid to still want to do something that I love. After all, I’m lucky to be doing something that I don’t hate with people that I get along with most of the time. That makes me better off than many I know. Besides, I might not even like teaching. It’s a morning job, and sometimes being cooped up in a building with a bunch of over-dramatic adults is enough to get on my nerves, and that doesn’t even hold a candle to being in a classroom with a group of melodramatic teens, struggling, sometimes in very unattractive, frustrating ways, to find their place in the world. Even still, that mental image ignites my soul, much like that of the week of counseling at summer camp. I want to be making a difference. No matter what the par of my work with vegetables and fruits, no matter the degree of excellence or professionalism I achieve, it’s not going to change anyone’s life. Should I settle for less?

I should note here that I realize the possibility of being a light to my coworkers, and I do strive to be one. But there is something about the impressionable, young time. The majority of people who make a decision for Christ do so before their late teens. Even if it were not so, those people, those kind of places put a light in my soul like no other. A week without pay is more than worth a week at camp to me. But is there a way I could love the people and make a living simultaneously? Something achievable, and not debt inducing? A journey there that I could enjoy along the way? Or should I settle? Some of the employees at the store I work with have been there for twenty plus years. Regardless of whether I stay there, do I want to work any job not geared towards the people for any length of time? I think these things, and I get up and go to work each day. I’ve come no closer to a conclusion. I think, for now, maybe I’ll buy myself a car.


Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Vegetables vs. People

  1. I don’t think that it’s stupid to always hold on to the desire to make a bigger difference. Maybe it is idealistic, but that doesn’t make it unachievable. I also really, really want to have a job someday where I feel everything, or at least most everything, I’m doing is making a difference for the Kingdom. Because that’s why we’re here, right?

    • Excellent point, that is why we’re here, “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” to quote the catechism. I don’t know, I guess sometimes life clouds my vision.

  2. I agree, the fact that you can say the people you work with are pretty amazing is a real blessing. Many do not have such co-workers. I am glad you do. There are few things more difficult in a workplace than having co-workers that are hostile, or constantly at odds with you.

    Your pondering, and struggle, is certainly one I have also struggled with a lot. But I have one small point of disagreement. You said, “No matter what the par of my work with vegetables and fruits, no matter the degree of excellence or professionalism I achieve, it’s not going to change anyone’s life.” That is incorrect. Apart from Jesus nothing will change a life for good. With Jesus everything can change lives for good.

    Granted, that disregard for produce wrappers is how the world thinks. The world looks down on certain jobs and considers them “unimportant” and of no account. But don’t buy into that view, don’t join that perspective. That is not how God looks at those people, or how He considers their labour.

    I don’t think that if you were a teacher, or a missionary, or a well-paid executive, that you would walk into some store and look at the people serving you and think to yourself, “I’m so glad I have a meaningful job that is changing the world unlike those people who are doing meaningless and worthless things in their pitiful jobs.” At least, I hope you wouldn’t think such things about those people. I think you would tell those people that if they love Jesus God can use them, is using them, to change the world right where they are. And as you would not scoff at or look down on those people, you should not scoff at your own self, or look down on your job. God is using you to change the world, God can use you to change many people’s lives–right where you are. The Apostle Paul was a tent maker. That wasn’t a glamorous job. It wasn’t a “change the world” job. But even employed in that job, God used Paul to change the world. God didn’t call teachers of the law, He called fishermen. So don’t think your position as a produce worker is a disadvantage compared to teachers.

    God can use you where you are. Even as you ponder where you path might lead don’t dismiss where you are now. Open your heart to the now. Look and pray for eyes to see how He is using you now, and how you should be His servant here. We are all called to do our jobs (whether slave or free, great or small) as “unto the Lord” and that is an awesome occupation.

    Now, I grant that in your current job you have to believe by faith that your job has worth and meaning, because certainly with our eyes it does not look like working in a lowly job will change anyone’s life, or the world. But God is more awesome than we can imagine, so believe that He can use you to change many lives in your job, if He calls you to that.

    That being true, it doesn’t answer the question of whether God is calling you to continue in the job, or not. Maybe your calling is to a different job, a different path. But if you are called to leave that job leave it because God has called you on a different path, not because you think God is too weak to minister to people through you in that present job.

    You ask if you are unrealistic and stupid in your desire and dreams–and how often I have asked myself the same. The answer depends a bit on who is defining “realistic” and “not stupid.” 😉 but if we are going by the world’s standards then following Jesus definitely is unrealistic and stupid, so there is that. If we’re going by that, I say embrace unrealistic and stupid. But there are other measures. There is the folly of not listening to God. The Bible says a lot about that. So listening is important.

    The tension I struggle with in my own life is that we, as Christians, are not called to ultimately follow the path of worldly wisdom, or our own desires. Sometimes we may do things the world thinks wise (or not) and sometimes we may do things we desire (or not). But the doing or not doing of the things that seem wise, or we desire, should be determined by following Jesus. And, as you have discovered, Jesus doesn’t often come down with a sign pointing in the direction you should go. So it is often tempting to substitute worldly wisdom or our desires in the place of really, truly, listening to Jesus and seeking his will. I can usually figure out what would be considered “wise” by the standards of the world, and often I can determine what I desire, but Jesus is not so prompt in giving answers as I would like. And so then there is a strong temptation to pretend that worldly wisdom or my desires are Jesus’ will because I am tired of waiting.

    Learning patience and waiting and listening are difficult things, but they are part of growing in maturity. The perpetually immature never learn to listen, never learn to wait.

    I can’t untangle all of that for you, or for anyone else, and I have a hard enough time walking it myself. But a few points I would share.

    (1) I have already encouraged you to not despise your present job. I also encourage you to not despise your desires, your dreams. People may say your perspective is stupid or unrealistic, but that is not God.

    (2) But, along with the above, do not become fixated on your dreams. Hold them lightly, love God first. God may call you to pursue your dreams, or He may call you to lay them down for something better that He has in store. He may call you to lay down your dream for awhile, only to give it back to you later. Or He may call you to pursue your dream for awhile, only to later tell you to lay it down. Walk with God and see what He does with your dreams.

    (3) Don’t confuse the passion God has given you with how you think that passion ought to be worked out. That can seem like a tricky distinction, but it is a real and important one. It may be God has called you to follow your passion, but not on the path you think you must walk. As a hypothetical example: God may have given you a passion to work with teens. You may think that logically becoming a teacher (or whatever) is the way God would have you follow that passion. But in fact God may have some crazy, unimagined way, He wants you to follow that passion. And if you wait on Him then He will show you.

    (4) Be patient. God’s time is not our time. This is probably the hardest point of all of them because God always seems far too slow for us.

    The biggest thing I wish to encourage you with is the truth that God is crazy, and I mean that in the best way possible. I mean that in the “When I look at what He has done it is so unbelievable I have to laugh.” God has plans for your life, and they are crazy beyond what you can imagine and that is so much better than how dull it would be if you could understand and plan it out now.

    Did I ever imagine I would be at the place I am at now in my life? No, not in a million years. And what a strange and twisty path God used to bring me here. But God does unbelievable things with our lives. If you walk with Him your passion might change–but don’t be afraid. If you walk with Him it won’t fizzle, weaken, or become shallow. It will grow deeper, richer, and broader so that you passion becomes something bigger, stronger, and more than you could have ever dreamed now.

    When she was twenty years old could have my sister imagined that she was going to work for a Doctorate of Physical Therapy? Not in a bazillion years. It was a long time of wandering in the brush before she found that path.

    These are your wandering in the brush years. Don’t despise them. Use them as years to cling to the hand of your Abba Father and learn to walk closer to Him. God will make things clear in His time. And in the meantime, you are not wasting your time working in your small job. God does not waste time.

    And that, I think, is a plenty long comment. 😛

  3. So many good points that are so easy to lose while “wandering in the brush” are presented here. Thanks for taking the time with your “plenty long comment” 😉 to remind me of them.

  4. And again I accidentally posted under my dad. Woops!

  5. Pingback: Fulfilled | Journaling a Journey...

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