I come from a highly successful family. My youngest sister was just inches (literally) from making the US Olympic team in swimming this year, my other younger sister also qualified for the Olympic trials in running, and my older brother is a brilliant violinist. My dad is a well-accomplished surgeon-turned-iron-man triathlete, and my mom raised a bunch of hooligan kids who turned into rockstars. On top of that, there is a deep level of humility rooted in each and every one of my family members that doesn’t focus on the achievements, but rather the significance of hard work.
Seriously. I could go on forever about how insanely talented my family is - and then there is me.
So, I had my fair share of natural talent running through my blood as a kid. I won numerous piano competitions. I was the best mile runner in middle school (my glory days ;) ). I played varsity lacrosse in high school. But I never stuck with any of those disciplines. I hated working hard unless I saw immediate results, and because true accomplishment doesn’t come without millions of trials of failure, I gave up on each of these hobbies pretty quickly.
The older I grew, the more I recognized how much each member of my family had to offer, and the more I felt like I had nothing to give. Pretty soon, my identity became rooted in academic accomplishments.
I was the person who didn’t try super hard in high school, and progressively became more type A throughout college and grad school. I absolutely prided myself on my grades. I went from a 3.2 in high school, to a 3.6 in college, to a 3.96 in grad school, and my heart finally felt like I was a contributing member of society, truly set apart by my accomplishments. I was consistently told through my last two years in grad school how I would make an excellent therapist, how truly genuine I seemed working with clients, and how I was able to make others feel comfortable and relatable in my work with them. I glowed at the fact that I felt like I finally had a purpose, and that I had something unique to give. And then I graduated.
I went into grad school with the intent of becoming a therapist, and came out with a strong assurance that I would never seek to hold that title. It’s not that I don’t believe in therapy, it’s simply the fact that I don’t know if this is the job that best uses my skills and mind. But, for someone who held (still struggles not to hold) fast to their identity in their career, I felt lost, helpless, discouraged, disoriented, and confused.
How could I find a career that challenges me, that ignites my passion, and that allows me to use all of my strengths and talents, and not just some?
This internal struggle, paired with the fact that my husband and I are currently completing a 6-month intensive discipleship training school through our church, allowing me to only work very specific hours, has forced me to step away from my career.
As a result, I wrestle almost daily with the thoughts that I’m not good enough because I am a nanny, and am not currently using my masters in my other job. Some days I feel like I am drowning in the expectations I hold for myself when it comes to my career. I often suffer from decision fatigue- knowing all the wonderful options out there to work with those who could use my training, but not knowing which to choose. It is so difficult for me to die to myself daily when it comes to my career.
But this time is a sweet reminder of where my identity truly lies. If you are anything like me, it is so easy to look around to others and covet the place they are in their career. It always seems so simple and easy for other people, doesn’t it?
It is too easy to see only the positives in others' lives. But we often don’t see the full picture.
There are difficulties in every career. Every job is constantly changing, growing, shifting, and fluctuating. There are fickle moments, moments when you are unneeded, and times when you are overworked, underpaid, stressed out, and tired. A friend of mine once told me that career paths are much more like jungle gyms than they are like a pretty, straight path. You try one thing out, figure out what you are good at and love to do, and weed out the areas of work that you realise do not suit you.
Here’s the thing...
When we try to find our identity in anything but Jesus, we will always be let down.
We experience a heavy fatigue when we try to hold tightly on to areas the world offers, instead of clinging securely to the One in whom our identity was created.
“Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest”, Jesus says, and I wonder if he means that everything will make us weary outside of Him. I wonder if this searching for our identity in other areas just drains our souls. I wonder, while we are chasing fast and hard after purpose in our careers, if we are actually just sprinting away from our actual purpose. I wonder if there is ever peace to be had while only focusing on what we have to offer, instead of resting in the fact that we have been offered a gift far bigger than one we could ever give.
I am not, by any means, suggesting we should become lazy in our jobs. We are commissioned to work hard, using the gifts that we have been given (notearned!) to uplift others around us. You were created with a unique skillset that no one else has been given, and the tools in your toolbox look much different than mine. Because of this, it is critical to use these talents - after all, no one else can do what you can. But when we place our sole purpose on how we can contribute with our careers, our souls are the ones that suffer.
The Message version of Matthew 5:8 reads “You’re blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
It is not until we have our inside world put right, our identity clear and strong, and our hearts beating to the rhythm of Christ, that we can see Christ, and that we can be Christ - in our friendships, our workplaces, our relationships, and in every interaction that we have.
You were knitted together tenderly, carefully, creatively, and uniquely in your mother’s womb. Your heart beats for One Purpose. Our gifts will not fully come to life until we live in the beautiful, matchless, and distinct identity of the One who gave us everything that we have.
Abbie is a 25-year-old living out of the abundance of Jesus' unending grace and mercy. She thrives off deep vulnerability and connection with others, while striving to live into the call of outpouring encouragement onto others. Often described as feisty, passionate, talkative, and compassionate, Abbie is an ENFJ through and through. You'll most likely find her training for a race, handlettering or painting, whipping up a new healthy and whole recipe in the kitchen, singing worship songs at the top of her lungs in my car, or watching The Office with her husband. What does she love most? Pretty light, hearing people's stories of redemption, peonies, her husband's smile, white walls, and the smell of rain.