Faith, Work & Identity

Dependence over balance


Starting Small

I grew up in a small town and went to a very small high school and church. My childhood was characterized by obedience, church attendance and over-activity. I thrived academically, was an active part of my church and didn't have a curfew, because I was too afraid of disappointing my parents to make unwise decisions. I knew Jesus loved me, but was living a good girl life and hadn’t begun to grasp the height and depth of His love. My identity was in all the wrong places and attached to all the wrong things.


I then moved to another small town to attend a small, Christian university. But even though it seemed a small "bubble", college blew my worldview apart. I had an identity crisis as everything I thought I'd known about people, the world and God began to take a new, fuller, and much more confusing shape.


Staying Small

I was a typical college senior when I graduated, thinking I would jump right into a well-paying, life-fulfilling position somewhere meaningful. But the unemployment rate for my age group at the time was around 15 percent. I moved home, and once again, struggled to find meaning and purpose. A series of losses in my life and my lack of success professionally created another crisis of identity that was accompanied by depression and anxiety, and required professional counseling (which I am a big fan of, by the way).


It took four years for God to open a door more aligned with my career field. During that time, I married my husband, moved five times, had our first son, and changed jobs and churches three times (all in the same town). But God stayed constant through it all. His steadfastness and gentle guidance were (and have remained) overwhelming in my life. At every impasse, I encountered His love and faithfulness again and again.


The Goodness of a Big God

I never thought this journey would have been as topsy-turvy, upside-down and sometimes backward as it has been. Keeping my identity firmly rooted in the love and salvation of Jesus has proved to be one of the most difficult parts of my life. My story has been marked by depression and anxiety, deep loss, and sweet and simple joys.


It has also been marked by faithfulness. Not mine, but God's. His love and promises have proven faithful time and time again. He has brought me to a company I can genuinely say has taught me more about grace than all my years in college or growing up. He's provided opportunities to share the Gospel with my co-workers of different religions, no religion and differing lifestyles. He has also created fruitful friendships and opportunities to serve in unexpected ways.


Faith & Work

One such experience that made my job so meaningful came during a trip with a coworker a few years ago. I was away from my just-turned-one-the-day-before little boy, and was lamenting to God how difficult it was. I was considering our family’s situation and how, since my husband is still pursuing his graduate degree, there is just no option for me to be a stay-at-home mom. I was struck by the irony of my own fickle heart. What I had prayed for for so long in a career, and that he'd provided, was now not what I thought I wanted at all.


I was thankful for my job, but also felt the sting of missed moments and limited time. But even during my lamentation over being away from my family, God reaffirmed His faithfulness to me by being able to talk openly and genuinely with my friend about the Gospel and its goodness, and showing me that He is still working in this season for a good and joyful purpose. I've been able to continue to have meaningful discussions about faith, sufferings of the world, God's goodness and so many other things, including my struggle with anxiety and control, with many of my colleagues.


God has used my unbelief, anxiety, doubts and identity crises to show me His goodness, grace, mercy and purpose. He is enabling me to live life holistically as a working mom, learning more and more that life is not so much about balance as it is dependence. Dependence on Him every step of the way, during every twist and turn.


This question posted to Twitter by Christian speaker and writer, Jo Saxton, years ago has impacted me greatly when struggling through fears and doubt related to faith and work:


“What if we attended to our jobs as though they were our

God-given vocation?”


This is where He has me, and this is what He has provided … and that is so good and Kingdom purposeful. And even when things change again, and life feels off balance, I know dependence on Him is what will carry me through.


Whitney


*An excerpt from this article was originally featured by The Gospel Coalition here.


Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash


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