Seven years of schooling and I still haven’t quite found my place in life. Approaching my twenty-eighth birthday, I’m still not where I thought I’d be. That’s OK.
While attending a community group (as in a small home meeting of Christians) with Julie’s brother and sister-in-law, I heard many recent college grads struggling to find their places in life. Many were working at low-paying or dissatisfying jobs. Many had a glimpse of what they thought the future would look like, but didn’t know how to get there. I sensed a little frustration and a lot of struggle.
I was there and have been there. It’s hard to face your family after they’ve put you through college and say, “Thanks for the first-rate education, but now I don’t know what to do with myself.”
During my second year of college I settled on the path of ministry, becoming a pastor in particular, and therefore finished with a BA in Bible and English Literature–the Bible is literature after all. Then I shot straight into seminary and completed my Master of Divinity program in three and a half years.
The problem was that in the course of seminary I ended up ruling out an academic career or a career as a pastor. What else is an MDiv good for in the job market?
And that brings me to my point. Life is about the process of elimination. We have to go for the things God sets before us one step at a time, and as we move forward some things are ruled out, while others become more attractive. We can only pursue our options until they lead to another course or come to a dead end, requiring a whole new direction.
In my own case every major step I took planted a small seed that I hardly noticed. That seed led to something else that planted another small seed. For example, seminary led to serving in a church, that led me to nonprofit organizations and that led me to where I’m at right now, serving in the nonprofit sector.
In addition I went from aspiring to write academic theology books, to lay level nonfiction, and now to a mix of nonfiction and fiction. Everything seemed to change over time, but each step brought me a little closer to where I want to be. And I confess that even “where I want to be” changes over time.
That doesn’t mean I’m content, but I’m working on it. In the end we must find our contentment in our standing with God, but we can take comfort in knowing that he cares about where we’re heading and what we’re doing.
To all those recent grads who are struggling to find their place, I can offer this encouragement: it’s normal and it’s a long–if not life-long– process. Life is this strange mix of enjoying where we are, but also weeding out what doesn’t belong.