A friend of mine was faced with a career defining decision of either selecting a job that would advance her career, give her an incredible experience, and provide her with all the comforts that she has grown to love. Or. Choose a job in which she would not have any of the above. Actually, that about sums it up. Those were the factors. To have or not to have. There was no higher meaning. No greater purpose that was revealed. There was no calling from God to perform a task.
Is it possible that we sometimes need to take the difficult path to find ourselves? Whatever that means. I borrowed that line from the Wonder Years. We define our identity through our suffering and misery. That one was from the Matrix. There is some truth to all of this though. All of our securities, our comforts, even our rationality, are just facades which we hide behind to prevent our true selves from being revealed. Mainly because our scared selves are not usually ready to accept our true selves for what we are or rather what we might be. In a world where wealth, security and satisfaction is conditioned as the objective, how do we end up with teachers, counselors, or any other civil service job. The culture has done its best to convert even these jobs so that they too fall under the qualification as a quest for wealth, security and satisfaction. This is done through unions, pensions, tenures, and of course everyone’s favorite, “No Child Left Behind” programs. In an NCLB world, can a teacher fail? In a world full of tenure and security, does any teacher care to fail? Our true selves as teachers, counselors, scientists, or any other service-based occupation is revealed when all of those securities are removed. And not only that, let the security be removed and let us experience a little bit of failure. Only if you fall, can you see in what way you will climb back up.
In his remark to the wealthy man, Jesus first told him to get rid of all his securities. Then follow him. It’s not really possible to follow him if we cling to our securities. Jesus runs pretty fast. How can we keep up with a tether to our safety net? How can we know if we have truly laid down our securities until we have considered them forfeit? (That one was from Lord of the Rings.) Even if we are not yet at the position where we would like to dedicate our lives to a religion, the same holds true nonetheless. In order to know who we truly are, we need to let go of our securities. Throw caution, attachment, and our future to the wind. Well, maybe not so abruptly, but slowly release them to the wind.
In my friend’s case, the choice was a choice between to have and not to have. It was a choice “to have security” versus “not to have security”. Was this the right decision? Time will tell. No matter what happens, she will definitely be learning a little more of herself, her true self, over the next few years.