I wish I could say that me wiping tears while simultaneously running on the treadmill and listening to podcasts was a one-time thing…in the last couple months. Today, during the first of my 2 (yes, I have that much free time now) workouts, I had a fantastic realization regarding this weird period of my life. I was listening to a 60-year-old radio broadcast of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen talk about marriage. And yes, it made me cry.
Obviously this man has some inspiring things to say about marriage. And, the subject matter was obviously relevant to me now as Sam and I prepare for the exciting, amazing, terrifying vocation of marriage. But, the reason I was moved to tears by this and other speakers/writers/people to whom I’ve turned my attention lately was something entirely different. I cried because I can tell that, without a doubt, Archbishop Sheen truly lived his purpose in this life. And I’m coming to realize that there are few more beautiful things in this imperfect, peculiar life as a human.
When I hear Archbishop Sheen’s voice, I am immediately both astounded and honestly kind of scared. He speaks with such confident, powerful inflection that I’m pretty sure he could convince anyone of anything. Thank God he used that power for objective good. His voice was beautifully made for the radio and, made for speaking truth to millions of lost people through it. His voice was made to comfort, inspire, present, and rejoice in the truths of a 2000-year-old religion. And even to people like me–60 years later!!! His purpose on this Earth was realized and, even now, that amazes me to tears. It also begs the question, “Am I living my purpose?”
I’ve thought of that more than occasionally in this bizarre chapter of my life. I graduated with a Master’s degree at the ripe young age of 24 with the promise of brighter futures and influencing young people as a school counselor. I was (and still am) so proud of realizing that goal. I worked toward this purpose relentlessly for 2-and-a-half years. And, much to my surprise, I was left with very little to no prospects of a job. Instead, I was forced to jump fully into the ever-trusty coffee shop job that has accompanied me through every one of the 6 years I have been in college and grad school.
After my grandiose decision to make a life for myself in Washington state and then my other grandiose decision to bust through graduate school like my a** was on fire, I am living at home and working at a coffee shop.
As the prospect of a job right out of grad school became dimmer, my confidence began to plummet. My sense of purpose and drive was compromised, and I felt almost completely isolated. As a textbook extrovert, the lack of ample social interaction through school and internship left me depleted every day. Thoughts of losing friends from school over the years and facing yet another transition loomed and still looms. And, though there has been wedding preparations and small business matters to attend to, I find myself dealing with this cross of displaced purpose still today.
Thank the Almighty God for my fiance, my family, and my ever-shrinking group of true friends who carry me through when they have the time. But, I am beginning to realize, this truly unfamiliar period of too much downtime is mine to bear. And when I see it in context of the larger purpose for my life, it doesn’t seem quite as lonely or uncomfortable.
I have no busy-ness to be my crutch, my excuse, my comfort zone to remain in auto-pilot. I have no reason to brag or rely on outside accomplishments to boost my ego or make me feel important. I have no excuse to have superficial friendships. In fact, I treasure my smaller number of intentional friends even more now. I have no bureaucracy to contend with, no excuse to have one-too-many beers because “my life is soooo stressful”. My life has quieted. My pleasure-seeking brain hates it. But as I live it and even write this, I see how it is enriching my life.
My life was not balanced in the busy throes of school and work and relationships. It is not balanced now, and will never be perfectly balanced. But I really believe that it was for a divinely inspired reason I am being placed in this uncomfortable situation. I am “forced” to tell people “I graduated in December with my Master’s degree. No, I do not have a job in my field yet”, so that I can learn that my occupation (whether school counseling or as a barista) does not define my worth. I am “forced” to tell my friends “I am so happy we are meeting. I get lonely during the day when I am not working and have nothing to do. Thank you for being in my life.” I am “forced” to tell my fiance, “Thank you for loving me even when I’m doubting myself”. I am “forced” to tell my parents “You guys reflect what true sacrificial love looks like. I’m sorry for waking you up when I come home late when you have to be up early the next day”. In short, I am placed in this situation to get perspective that successful life and wealth doesn’t always have to come from money, occupation, or popularity. I am “forced” to see the good things that have always been constant, even when I haven’t noticed it. I needed that. Though it sounds trite, I’m not sure I truly understood that before this humble, more quiet period in my life.
This chapter in my life is meant to prepare me for the next. This chapter in my life WILL help me realize my purpose in life, so that one day, someone can be touched by my passion for life the way I was touched by a late Archbishop of the Catholic Church.