Happy Tears   9 comments

name tag“What do you do?” is the lead-off question when you’re introduced: first your name, then job title, because in this society our work defines us, and our productivity determines our worth.  I spent most of my life desperately chasing success to prove my value, and my failure drove me into despair.  So for more than a decade I have been reorienting myself, trying to settle into a worth independent of accomplishment.  It has been painful and frightening and crushingly hard, but God gave me no choice, thwarting my every attempt at meaningful work.  And I think I have finally come to the point that I’m okay with that.  He can impact this world through me or not as He thinks best.ConanTheLibrarian

Over the last dozen years my ambitions have dropped from saving the world as a missionary to saving a city as a pastor to saving an organization as a social worker to….  putting library books in call number order.  Still I was trying to eke out some sense of personal usefulness from my job.  When I was furloughed every Christmas and summer break, my depression deepened  because I didn’t even have that thumb tack on which to hang my value as a human being–my existence was pointless.  Like a drowning man clutching at flotsam, I would gasp in relief when work started back.

Yesterday my forced holiday ended, but for the first time in four years I was not flailing for some scrap of self respect from a dead-end job.  I am grateful for work, I enjoy my colleagues, and I prefer a set schedule, but I no longer feel worthless when I’m jobless.  I seem to have finally crossed a watershed in emotional freedom from this lifelong compulsion to find purpose in work.  This is huge for me.  This has been my most fundamental personal issue, and I’m sure it still has plenty of kick left, but its emotional grip has been loosened.  The arc of this healing has been so gradual that I didn’t even realize it was a benchmark until I wrote this paragraph, and as I read it back to my wife just now, I got all choked up.



Posted January 18, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal

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9 responses to “Happy Tears

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  1. Pingback: When Work Doesn’t Work | Joy Spotting

  2. Thank you for this.

  3. Thank you Kent! This hit a sore spot for me too.
    Judy H-W

  4. mazel tov! I love the “Conan the Librarian”!!! You should put it on your fridge! I celebrate your healing with you and for you. love and hugs

  5. Celebrating with you. LOLd at the Conan meme!
    My own sense of personal value has been challenged for the past decade or so as well. Instead of jobs, I looked to my social and moral swagger for reassurance. I’m still working towards a healthier differentiation (and a more peaceful value system). In the meantime, it’s encouraging to hear about victories like yours. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Pingback: Saving Trust | Janathan Grace Reflections

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