Saturday, November 13, 2010

Odd Jobs

I'd be a lousy waitress. I tend to be forgetful, as in I remember useless trivia but not what I ate for breakfast or what happened yesterday. While I'm generally coordinated, I have a tendency to make messes. Ask my husband, who just this morning had to clean up two of my messes in as many minutes (I dropped the brown sugar canister on the floor and lost a pile of sugar out of it, then I spilled milk all over the water filter, all for the sake of having Cream of Wheat). I did work at McDonald's for six months before I got a job at a record store for the remainder of high school, but I think that should be the extent of my food service career.

Here are the jobs I would like to try:
  • makeup artist/aesthetician
  • historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg
  • baker/cake decorator
  • historical caterer (making period meals for special events and home dinner parties—Colonial, Civil War, etc.)
  • car salesperson
  • furniture salesperson
  • English teacher (just another crack at it to see if I could manage under not-awful circumstances)
  • barista (mostly because I want to take those madd skillz home)
  • NPR correspondent and/or panelist on Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
  • history detective (à la the PBS show of the same name)
  • actor (stage or screen)
  • SNL cast member

There are probably more. There are jobs I see every day that make me think, "I'd like to try that!" Some of them I just want to try to see if I can do them—like a salesperson who works on commission. How hard is that job? It seems really hard. Would I be good at it? I generally dislike pushy salespeople, so that would automatically keep me from being one—right?

What I'm learning is that there are jobs and there are callings. A job is something you do; a calling is something you pursue. It's a goal placed deep into your heart by your creator. Some people are called to be evangelists, and maybe they go overseas to do that in the missionary field. Or they can stay right here and minister to the people they encounter every day at their job. Your job can be a means to pursue your calling, or your job can be a hindrance to your calling.

The key is not to confuse the two. You can be very unhappy in a job, but you're unlikely to be unhappy in your calling. If you're making every effort to do what God has asked you to do, you're likely to at least feel fulfillment in the doing, regardless of what you think your success rate is.

My career goal is to be a writer. I've thought that for a long time. I've got a list a mile long of book ideas and storylines and screenplays that have yet to be written. I could probably start a Web site where I sell all the unused ideas I've got. I really like to write and I've got a unique voice, so why shouldn't I be a writer?

It didn't become a calling until God asked me to write something specifically for him. This whole Lazy Christian thing was his idea. He's been paving the way for it for a couple of years now, and I've felt him tugging on my sleeve saying, "Rachel! C'mon! Get moving! Stop stalling!" In the meantime, I do silly things—like make a list of all the jobs I want to have that aren't what I've been called to do.

But now it's different. I've spent the last month being afraid of dying in surgery. The one thought that scared me more than anything was the thought that I could die and meet God, and instead of, "Well done, good and faithful servant," he'd say, "Why didn't you do what I asked you to do? The elevator's to the left."

Now, I know his grace is sufficient and all that, but have you ever read the parable of the talents? It's scary stuff. They were all believers, but one didn't make the most of what God gave him and got the boot.

So here I am—sitting in a coffee shop working on my book proposal after a months-too-long break. Some people go years and don't realize their calling. I've been sitting on mine like I've got eternity to make it happen—which I don't. None of us do. I've only got this life to be on my mettle, and I don't know when my time is going to be up.

What's your calling and what are you doing to make it happen?


  1. Rachel, do you know that you and I are twins separated at birth? I swear, everytime I read one of your posts, I feel like I could have easily penned the exact same thoughts. I have a calling to write also. It burns deep in my soul and propels me everyday, but still I have a 1/2 done book proposal that is gathering dust, even though it's an idea I know God gave me. I have a writing conference in March and I desperately want to be able to take it. Yet, I keep finding reasons to not pick it up. Life is busy, yes. But I wonder if I'm just afraid of failure. Or just lazy -- writing books is hard work. Maybe you and I could be accountability partners. Seriously. Writing is such a solitary profession and there is no one here to kick your butt into action. Think about it. No pressure. Just a thought. We could be each other's personal "calling cheerleader." Go, Rachel!! ;0)

  2. Boy what that a kick in the pants! I felt it clear out here; your aim is improving. ;) I've indentified with so many of your posts and go back and reread them, but this one... I've always had a similar list job-wise and similar thoughts about what God wants me to do. Doing my art has been a calling forever and yet I found myself wondering: how could doing something I love possibly benefit others in a meaningful way. Yeah, I love creating, but how do cake toppers or art jewelry help further the kingdom of God? Never mind that God gave us these talents for a reason and obviously expected us to use them.

    Like Melinda, I always found reasons to put it at the bottom of the priority list. My family life certainly provided a lot of medical reasons to do so, but apart from that, I was absolutely terrified of success. Part of me still is. There was never any doubt I could succeed, but what would happen when I did? How would expectations change? Would I lose the joy of creating knowing that people were waiting for new stuff? Would it become a job rather than a passion? There are other more personal bits that feed into that fear, but you can get the idea.

    I've been wrestling with that for decades, literally, and it's only now that I finally started getting out of my own way. It took committing to a show with a deadline and fee to get my butt in the chair and you know what? God blessed that whole experience and has left a selection of open doors for me to explore as a result.

    No one is going to push me into the chair, but I swear sometimes I feel God's eyes boring into me with that parental look of vague disapproval saying, "I'm waiting" and "Oh, by the way, I can wait forever, but I didn't leave you that much time down there." Eternity is coming, and I don't want to be shown the elevator either. Great visual by the way.
    If you do opt to start an accountability group - count me in with bells and pom-poms. Till then - get back to writing. I'm sure I'll need another kick in the pants soon. :)

  3. Thanks, ladies. I'm glad I'm not the only one who needs a kick in the pants. :)


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