I’ve been working full time in the church office for a whopping three and a half months. I like it. I really really like it.
I never knew I would work in a church. It was never really something that I dreamed about in my youth, or even the goal I had my sights set on when I was in university. But here I am. And it feels right. I know God guided me here. I’m not sure why and I’m not sure where this is going, but it’s right. It just is.
I actually started working in the church just over seven years ago. I was twenty-five, had just been baptized – a young wife, mother and Christian coming out of a highly unstable past. Trying to heal and grow and figure things out. My oldest girl was two and a half, my youngest was on the verge of her first birthday and I was heading back to school. I was unhappy and afraid and unsure but it was a huge turning point in my life and for once I was actually taking steps instead of just letting things happen. I was full of fear, but determined. It took me a good six months of soul searching and weighing my options before I decided to head back to school. I prayed and prayed and prayed but I didn’t really feel a nudge from God about what I should do. But I got the feeling but I had to take a step – any step – any direction, I just had to move. I couldn’t stay in the same spot in my life. So I picked a direction, took those first steps and prayed God correct my path. Make me go where you want me to. I had some idea that I might want to open a business one day but at least was grounded in reality enough to understand that I didn’t really have the skill set to pull it off, so I enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at our local school.
My friend, another young mom and the church janitor at the time, moved away and I took her place cleaning the church simply because the opportunity presented itself. It was the perfect job for a woman in my position. I was busy. Man was I busy, but I still needed to bring in a little cash every month. Cleaning was perfect because it was so flexible. I could show up and do the work whenever I had a gap in my schedule. Some nights, that gap came after midnight. Also, working alone gave me the time I needed as an introvert to just be alone and still be productive. I spent those hours mulling essays over in my mind and working out my arguments before I had to write them down to meet a deadline. Even though the job felt like such a coincidence when I took it, I’m certain I wouldn’t have done so well in school if I had had any other job.
So I spent the next seven years earning my degree, part time, while being the church janitor and God was right there, fully present, the whole time. Oh, the lessons He taught me.
I wound up switching from the business program to the arts, mere weeks into my first semester. That sunny fall afternoon that I stepped out of the academic advising office and headed towards the parking lot I felt such joy and peace but also trepidation, such a swirling mix, and suddenly God was there. It was the first I had heard from Him since I had started even thinking about what to do with my life. I said, God, what am I doing! Why didn’t I just go with Arts in the first place – why bother with all that business stuff? Why all this waste of the last few weeks.
And you know that was one of the few moments I have had when I actually heard God’s words in my spirit. It’s only happened a couple of times in my life, but even now I can clearly remember His words in my mind, in my heart, words that were not my own but that were stronger and clearer than my own. He said, You wouldn’t have gone back for Arts.
That’s all he said. But I felt such confirmation and a sense of, I don’t know, rightness, about the path I was now heading down. And after some thought I realized it was true. I had been living a life ignoring what I was good at, in fact if you had asked me at the time what I was good at, I would have said nothing. Because I honestly thought I had nothing. No talents, no good qualities, nothing. But I started to pay attention to who God said I was, and the things He put in me. I let Him Father me and teach me and grow me and mold me and guide me. I just went with it, even if they were things that the world didn’t think were particularly interesting or attractive – my friends and family and my church family included – but I just trusted God with it. And the rest of my education was incredible. I just felt I was going with the flow, the current, the stream, of what God had for me. I never got a clear vision of the future – I still don’t. And I endured many, many, many comments, questions and suggestions that an arts degree is useless in this world, a waste of time. An indulgence. A straying away from Christian teaching. Not worth anything in terms of earning a good wage. I heard it all. But knowing that God was with me made it a no-brainer. I never second guessed it. I grew into the things I’m good at and the gifts that I actually have instead of the things I wish I was good at and the gifts the world applauds.
All of this only sharpened when I decided to major in philosophy. But again, it’s where I was drawn, God was clearly in it, leading me, teaching me, and growing me. I did well.
Anyway, I could say a lot of things about school. I could fill a book with stories of when and how Jesus showed up in this most unexpected and inexplicable places. And that’s just the educational side of things. The amazing things that I saw, heard, and experienced in those late, exhausting nights hauling garbage and scrubbing toilets were a wonder in themselves. God was always there too.
But I want to talk about what happened as graduation approached, and what has happened since. I guess I’ll write about that next time. Because now it’s time to go mash the potatoes for dinner. 🙂