Dream last night that I was working in a place that looked something like the cross between McDonald’s and part of my old high school. I was being graded on a point system based on how well I cleaned the area. Apparently, the last time I’d been graded, the manager had given me a grade that was too high for the work I’d done, but I also remembered another time where I’d received a lower grade than what I thought I deserved. My manager that night was MR from UW, and he was yelling that I needed to be graded harshly to make up for the last grade that was unfairly on the high side. I became incensed at him and started screaming that I had also been unfairly graded too low before as well, and couldn’t he remember that? Finally, he ended up being this talking head on a bed mocking me, and I furiously tried to knock the head off the bed. I awoke to my wife telling my to stop hitting her on the head. MR’s head had seemed like it was unusually stuck to the bed, but I had persisted in trying to knock it off the bed until I realized what I was doing in real life.
Today is Father’s Day, but I’ve been conditioned by my own father not to make too big a thing out of most holidays. We took my dad to eat at a nearby BBQ place yesterday, but I hadn’t really planned on doing it because it was Father’s Day weekend. My dad has gotten pretty slow with his walk. He turns 78 this year. This month marks the ten-year anniversary of my mom’s passing, but we don’t talk about it.
We walked up and down Pease Park trail a bit, and my son played at the playground for awhile. The dog was pretty worn out by the end of the walk she is the same age as my dad in dog years. She is mostly pretty happy and excited to go on these walks with us, though.
I’ve been feeling the pull to read more math and science books again, and start doing some type of running or working out, even though it is now in the 100s during the day here. I have a workout room on the campus where I live, but I’ve yet to become fully motivated to go and use it. Maybe this evening after my study group meets and my son is in bed, I’ll go and halfheartedly try to use a few machines.
Recently, I’ve been feeling pretty dispassionate about a lot of things that I was only very recently passionate about. I don’t feel especially strongly one way or another about whether I should stay here in school and go on to be chaplain, or leave and get back into the old career. The sense of being on a path of following Christ seems to come from some place wholly independent of worldly pursuits, and after seeing much of what is required to become a pastor, I am inclined to see most pastoral careers as being closer to other secular careers in that they make demands on the individual that specifically serve worldly institutions, systems and processes first before arriving at the place of serving the Lord.
It seems almost impossible to find one’s self in a place where one is primarily serving Christ over and above any considerations for the demands made by secular insititutions. In other words, you are going to inevitably see something attractive in the books, the organizations, the people, the title, the office–all of the trappings tied to Christian education and pastoral activity–before you get to the place where you are putting Christ first. And, this is all said and considered without even bringing family and its demands into the picture.
It can only be this way for one of two reasons. One, we are all just really weak people of the flesh, and material, visible things inevitably conquer us and help define us because we can’t maintain a tight relationship with an invisible being. Or, Christ is helping us in these directions because it is preferable to indirectly serve the Lord than to wind up serving an idol you thought was Christ but was simply a fabrication of your own imagination. Or, possibly thirdly, it could be a little of both.
There is much about humanity and human endeavor outside of the spiritual world that is extremely attractive. But, I inevitably conclude that I am missing something without the spiritual component inserted into my life. Living and engaging with humans who have abandoned God on a regular basis leaves me feeling cold, empty, and one-dimensional. However, it should be reiterated that living among humans who are overly obsessed and concerned with spiritual things at all times becomes wearying and makes me feel ungrounded and unstable. My goal is to constantly return to the primary Source that moves me, and makes me whole again, without becoming infatuated with an idolized version of it to the point that I am crazy and unbalanced. I suppose you could say that’s been my goal for over ten years, more or less, but all of my attempts to embark upon some kind of obsessively-focused career that matches my inner quest for satisfaction have been met with disappointment.
It could very well be that I am simply not made in this life to align my inner quest and mission with a particular career–that no career is going to serve to satisfy and reward me, because I am incapable of pursuing a particular career with diligence without turning it into my little god, my idol which I devote all of my time and energy to.
Therefore, it may very well be a blessing and not an unfortunate consequence of my weak flesh that I am feeling so blase about whatever particular line of work I decide to do next after leaving seminary.