I have a confession to make. I have been in a funk for the past week. Last week I went to Washington D.C. for a work conference. First of all, I love D.C. Every time I visit I want to move there, like yesterday. Especially in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are blooming and everyone is out riding their bikes in their suits. They all look like they’re going to very important meetings and the future of our country rests on their backs, but they are still either earth-conscious, health-conscious, or dirt poor (because rent is ridiculous) and riding bikes. I love it!
I also really enjoyed the work conference. We were creating a new business process for my department in Peace Corps. It wasn’t always fun. If you have three RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) in a room, you get four opinions. We had over 17 RPCVs trying to come to a consensus. I did get a few headaches over the two days we sat in that hotel conference room while I sipped on my iced chai tea latte. But I felt important. I felt like what I was doing was going to make a difference and better yet, I felt like I was good at it. Out of 20 participants, I was at the lowest pay grade in the room but that didn’t detract from my opinion being heard and taken into account. In an agency where I usually feel those in my position are overlooked as the very bottom of the totem pole, for once, I actually felt important.
That’s when the thoughts started swirling. I have potential to move up. I was asked repeatedly while there when I was moving to D.C. following the footsteps of some of my Atlanta co-workers who now work in the district. Why not? I’m good at what I do. I like it. It pays well. I could be happy, right?
Deep down I knew I had no business entertaining these ideas. I have a calling and a purpose. I am pursuing that right now. It doesn’t pay a lot. I have to depend on the generosity of others and their individual calling just to go. It doesn’t make me feel important. In fact, many times it makes me feel very small. But it does glorify Jesus as I try to emulate him and bring his love to the nations.
But last week, I did not want to think about that. I was happy imagining a future where I felt important and made plenty of money. Then came Sunday, that infamous day that God uses to shake so many awake when they won’t listen to him the rest of the week. And I didn’t even attend a church service!
Instead I went to two Sunday school classes at First Baptist Atlanta to share my move to the islands and need for support. And since they are all on the same lesson plan, I got the lesson twice. Apparently, once was not enough for my thick skull.
The lesson came from 2 Timothy and the verses blazoned into my mind were verses 3-4, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs- he wants to please his commanding officer.” Now for many having a military metaphor to describe the adherents of any religion can leave a very bad aftertaste. I get that. We have history informing us and the present day frightening us.
But I take it exactly as it is intended: a metaphor. A soldier is disciplined, courageous, long-suffering and most importantly obedient. They wish to please their commanding officer and do not get involved in matters of the civilian world.
Now taking this metaphor and applying it to my life, this is exactly where I find myself. My “orders”, so to speak, are to go. “Civilian affairs” tug at me- that desire to be seen as successful by this society’s standards. But at the very essence of my being is the desire to please my “commanding officer”. Why? 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”
So there it is. I was kicked out of my funk through the realization of what is truly important. In a world where in the same week as my funk, bombers blow up marathons, plants explode, avalanches kill snowboarders, earthquakes rip apart homes, families and lives, there comes an urgency.
I am not made to be self-important. Life isn’t about making more money or even the security that comes along with that. When I die, what will any of that have mattered? When I meet my Maker, do I want to say I strove make myself feel important? No, that’s not what I want at all.