Its true… the vast majority of people who graduate college don’t end up working in the industry they studied in college. Weather it is because there weren’t jobs in that industry, or because they discovered that what they studied just wasn’t what they liked, a lot of people end up doing something other that what they intended. In my case, I can expect that my profession will stem from a hobby I picked up during my senior year.
See, I studied Computer Information Systems in school. I pursued that field of study because working with computers was one of the few things I could do for long periods of time without getting very bored. It still is in fact. But what I discovered after getting out of school was that few people get to actually work on the interesting aspects of computer information systems, leaving most of us stuck doing uninteresting and tedious tasks. There is little room in the massive CIS industry for real innovation, an event that usually takes place near the top ten percent of the field. What most of us end up doing is paper work… endless test or engineering plans, design documents, process documentation, procedure documentation, all of which rarely gets used.
I have discovered that although I like programming, I don’t like programming in and of itself. What really draws me to code, and to computers in general, is the ability to simplify and automate the tedium in my life. I’m smart enough to recognize the computer as a tool and smart enough to use it as such, but coding for the sake of coding is boring.
Every man wants to make a difference, to know that what he does affects some kind of positive change on what he considers important. And the truth is, I’m tired of spending huge amounts of my time doing things that matter little and affect few people in any visible manner. And I’m tired of being given inordinate amounts of time to do simple jobs. I can’t remember the last time someone besides myself challenged me to do something difficult. I’m drowning in a sea of slugish mediocrity. Ugh.
I can only hope that God sees fit to allow me to do well enough as a photographer to live as one. Although I probably will never stop working in the computer industy in some way or another, I will probably never be satisfied until I’m working for myself, because I’ve known very few people who were willing to push me hard enough to put me close to my potential.
It’s something of a mystery for me, and its bothersome in the way that things are bothersome when they lie just outside of your understanding. Why is it that people feel the need to disparage or make fun of those who choose live with less, to take the precautionary road, and avoid such things that they consider dangerous. In some way the attitude is related to normal biases, such as the ones humanity often takes up against people in different class distinctions or racial groups. Is it because we feel somehow that their choice to avoid questionable things casts doubt on our own character? Perhaps you can offer me some insight.
I’ve been sick for the past few days, and though its not really a good excuse, I’m going to beg your leave for not posting like I should. Being sick does wierd things to me. It makes me listless and a little selfish. Of course, thats not really weird as most people probably feel that way. Here’s the weird part. Fatigue makes me feel romantic. yup… the tireder I get the more poetic and amorous I get. You can imagine the consternation I feel at times like these. All this romantic energy all pent up and no place to go.
Being sick of course makes it worse… because not only am I tired, but I’ve almost got a legitimate reason to feel sorry for myself. I know. I don’t whine, and I generally treat colds like these as the nuisance they are, but still, you start mixing selfish little emotions like self pity and romantic moods and that spells disaster. Makes pretty decent poetry though…
Now, before you start commenting and pouring out the pity, I should let you know that I’m fine. Really. I know. You’re thinking, "Pity? What’s he talking about." Honestly, I’m ok. Just a little cold. No need to make me feel better. I’ll be just fine… all by myself… alone… no one to pamper me… *sigh*
The Subtleties of Self Pity
Its a fell feeling that creeps up on us. Its deceptive too, cloaking itself in false humility, it acts as if by entertaining it you are justly taking action. It’s a disease and it affects many believers who have yet to grasp the reality of being redeemed. You probably know how it starts. You’ll be walking along, living life, dancing perhaps with one thing or another when you make a mistake. You go just a bit to far with something you should never have entertained at all and you find yourself on the north side of sin. And you feel guilty. You kick yourself a bit for being stupid. You think of what you wasted and it gets you depressed. This may not be the first time either, and you start thinking back to all the other times you screwed up just the same way. So you get up and try walking on, but you still feel bad. The next time you fail it doesn’t take as long. You show even less resistance than you did the last time, and the cycle starts over again, only it’s shorter this time.
For some, the feeling of inferiority is a chronic disease, a constant drain on much of what we do. In our minds we constantly compare ourselves to what other people have accomplished. We think, "If only I had not wasted so much time, if only I had worked harder I could be where they are now." A pervasive lie. The feeling of guilt, the constant reminder that we aren’t as perfect as we feel we should be, the insistent desire to be better than we know we are… all symptoms of the same problem.
It’s a feeling I am well acquainted with. Growing up the middle child of three boys, I was the typical bane of my older brothers existence. Like most middle children, I craved affirmation more so than my siblings and I was intensely competitive for it. I constantly doubted myself and for most of my teen years I would swing between the extremes of arrogance and self-doubt. Early in my life I got caught up in an addiction. I was saved when I was six and the constant contention between my flesh, embodied in my addiction, and the Holy Spirit was slowly wearing me down. My addiction started when I was ten and it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I finally acknowledged it, told my parents everything and began the process of getting free.
You learn much of human nature when you have to deal with the worst of its attitudes in yourself. One of the biggest lessons God has taught me deals with the issue of Pride and its many subtleties. Pride of course goes much deeper than its close cousin arrogance, and when properly defined is much better described as, "Seeing yourself as God sees you, no more and no less that what you truly are". Low self-esteem is at its root an issue of pride. At seventeen I finally found forgiveness for seven years of sinful habit, but lies that have been lived for that long do not die easily. And at the root of every sin you will find a lie. One of the most destructive lies Satan had deceived me with was that even though scripture said I was forgiven, and that in the sight of God I was as perfect as Christ because of the blood shed on the cross, that somehow I still needed to make up for what I had done.
Breaking habits is hard, and requires you alter the way you think. It took me years to root out many of the lies I had fallen prey to. But I can remember one summer about four years ago. It had not been a good couple weeks, and I had cycled to almost the bottom again. Make a mistake after doing well for some time, get mad at myself and try harder, make another mistake and get depressed, kick myself for a while and try again only to fail, each time wearing myself down further. I came to the conclusion that it was doing me no good to get mad and frustrated with myself because it only made it harder to fight the battle later. If God had forgiven me all my sins the day He died on the cross, and if I was His child, adopted and sealed in His love, then I was no different in His eyes after my sin than I was before it. He had known about my sin before I committed it and had loved me regardless. To admit sin is right and it is vital we ask for forgiveness, but the feelings of inferiority and self abuse were Satan’s tools, not Christ’s. His love is unconditional. I decided I would not feel bad. If I made a mistake, I would acknowledge it as sin, ask forgiveness and walk on. The greatest thing I could do for Christ was to remain obedient, beating myself up for my inadequacies gives Christ nothing of value.
My pastor recently told me that for him, knowing his purpose, the one God had for him, did more to help him than any other thing. We were talking about contentment, which in many ways is the product of prides antithesis. Pride is an attitude rooted in the desire for self. It wants. It wants to see itself lifted up, acknowledged, and gratified. Pride breeds the lusts that breed discontent. Pride will always ask for more. Humility, because it sees itself honestly, as God sees desires nothing more than to respond in gratitude to what it has been given. Because we have been given much.
Humility is inextricably tied to Love and they cannot exist apart. A humble man will know that who he is remains a matter that God decided a long time ago. A humble man will take stock of his talents, desiring no more or less than what he has been given, and when prompted by love will respond with what he has been given to the best of his ability. Like the parable of the talents, God is not concerned with how much we accomplish, but how hard we try. How much we can accomplish is a direct result of how much He gave us and thus something for which He gets the glory. Our reward is gained through obedience.
Getting back to my main point. It pains me often to hear people say that they are left destitute of talent, that if only they were different they would be better. Everyone is just how God made them, and that means they are perfect if His perfection. Sure, we are a fallen race, yet we are redeemed and Paul when he spoke those vital words, "I can do all things though Christ who strengtheneth me" echo’s the important truth that if you are redeemed you are perfect in His perfection. It is more important that you are content with who you than being content with what you have. To cry out against who you are is to proclaim your mistrust in God’s wisdom and your lack of faith in the power of God.
We don’t have to live there, for we are redeemed. And redemption is such a gift that can inspire gratitude to stand up and live an abundant life because God wants that for us. He does not desire pain for the children of His adoption. God knew that we would have to face much in our lives. You can’t escape the consequences of your actions completely. But in His infinite wisdom, God has made a way for you to enjoy life regardless of the trials you must endure. Weather you live your life with joy or with sorrow is a matter of choice, and that choice is I believe one of contentment, contentment with who you are. Don’t hide your talent, and do not covet the talents of those around you. Remember you will be rewarded for how hard you try, not how much you achieve. Its a beautiful system, for in the end God receives all the glory.
This article is a draft, and I intent to annotate and expand scripturally on several points. So, please feel free to comment on any grammatical or compositional errrors or gripes you find, as well as the basic tenents put forth. Any criticism or insight is appreciated.
Happy Birthday Dad
My dad turns 54 today. I remember growing up in Texas while my Dad went to Southwestern Theological Seminary there in Fort Worth. He would get up at 3:00am and go to work at McDonalds so he could get off early enough to get home and head to class by noon. I understand now how hard that kind of schedule is to keep, but back then it was just what Dad did, and I thought it was normal. I remember thinking it was so cool that he had keys to the building.
I went with him once. He woke me up at 3 and I stumbled out of bed and got dressed. It doesn’t really matter how hot it gets in the afternoon, it’s always cold in the early morning. I dozed on the drive up, still half asleep but not completely. When we got there I can recall how excited I was to finally see the place he worked at. I mean, you hear about what goes on at "work" and you wonder. I remember I used to visualize what the "store room" looked like. I thought it was in the basement. Maybe it was…
I spent the day helping, playing at the playground and generally experiencing what it was like to spend a whole day working. It was great. There was one summer when he arranged to have us kids help do the grounds work. We would go up there every Saturday and mow, trim, and pickup the lot. Then there was the time us three boys went with him late one night to clean up the store located on an army base. It was my first experience staying up really late. I think we got home around 2:30 or 3:00 am. It was truly awesome, as we had free reign of the soda fountain that evening.
That was a long time ago. My dad has done much in his lifetime that few people will ever get a chance to see. His attitude toward his work impressed me deeply, and the quiet way he went about everything is the model I use for how I approach most of my life. He never lost his temper, he always stopped to ask questions, and he always worked hard at what he did. Now all three of his boys are grown. The wisdom he imparted with his example is a gift I will likely never be able to repay, and something for which I am truly grateful. Thanks Dad, and Happy Birthday.