The Job of a Lifetime
“Every once in a while, I meet a person who radiates joy. These are people who seem to glow with an inner light. They are kind, tranquil, delighted by small pleasures, and grateful for large ones. These people are not perfect. They get exhausted and stressed. They make errors in judgment. But they live for others, and not for themselves. They’ve made unshakeable commitments to family, a cause, a community or a faith. They know why they were put on this earth.”
It’s a lifetime job. You are not hired, but born for it. The mission at “the Company,” is to live a life that is deep, consequential and joy-filled. Some awaken and accept the call earlier than others. I’m currently in the mailroom. There are many far more qualified than me. I look around and see pictures on the walls of some of the famous “greats”—–Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King and then others less known who have blessed my path like Dr. Brian Kushner, Rev. Becca Stevens, Bob Goff and my dad. Each in their time and place have moved the needle of love. The only requirement to achieve a promotion here is to work hard for some greater good. Something in me is convinced I was born to do this job. So I am slowly building a resume, a kind of “highlight reel” of life experiences: survived 9/11 and tried to help the survivors and the firemen; spent a year as a parent to a child with stage 4 cancer; delivered five more children with two dangerous deliveries, had a sad miscarriage; 12 years in ministry. This last one has really stretched me. I have frequently been shaking in my boots for fear I was not up to the task; praying with a young mother over the casket of her stillborn baby, delivering a eulogy for a friend who took his own life, sitting with a true gentleman as he received the terrible news, “Your diagnosis is terminal;” waiting in a maternity ward to bless a darling newborn with Downs Syndrome. The last years have produced a lot of personal growth, revelations of inner strength and a new depth of compassion. Somewhere along the way I added author to my climb. If I could put down my own struggles and search for meaning it could help others. “Let’s heal together” was my idea. Or God’s? Raising six children to be truly whole, healthy and “spirited” human beings continues to require the best of me. But somehow I intuit there is still more work and discovery for my soul here. It’s daunting and exciting in the same breath. The “Boss” knows what I was made for. It’s up to me to respond. Borrowing from the beloved poet, Mary Oliver, “What will I do with my one, wild precious life?”
The CEO uses every person that crosses my path to review me; evaluating how I handle myself in all situations from my intimate relationships to my presence with strangers. How I live my day-to-day life ( talk the talk, but also walk the walk) is the best indicator of not only who I am as a person, but if I have the “heart” for the job. As you can see, I am still working my way up the ladder. My soul knows when I am on task. I have gifts: my love of people, stores of energy and creativity, and desire to do something meaningful with my life. But there remains some gaping holes in my resume. Honestly, there are some relationships in my life that could be better. When people hurt me, I struggle to let it go. I doubt myself. I can be selfish. Sometimes I try to do too many things and spread myself too thinly and impatience reflects the price. I have not mastered total faith. I waver in devotion and attention to my spiritual life. At my best and at my worst, I am only human. Most of the time, I’m slow in my evolving. On my best days, I’m “the little blue engine of my childhood that could!”
From what I see in glimpses, my C.E.O. is a dream to serve. Not only a creative genius, but leads by humble example. “The Boss,” pays attention to every detail, but also has a gift for seeing the “Big Picture.” I am regularly amazed by the Boss’s incredible imagination—–always so full of surprises. This leader of the Company has a proven track record of investing in the team, giving encouragement when needed, mercy when you make a blunder and genuine excitement over hard-won successes. I don’t even have to do anything exceptional to receive a “bonus,” even here in the mailroom. I get paid in mercy, joy, sometimes a miracle. The ultimate is when I am invited into the “Boss’s” private quarters for a heart-to-heart or a meal. How is it possible, I regularly ask myself, that this great leader could possibly know or care so much about this little mailroom employee? And yet, the moment I kneel beneath the cathedral ceiling the titles of superior or employee fly out the door, and we are sudden intimates. I leave feeling as if my life matters, and I was hand-picked for the job, that the company simply cannot fulfill its important mission without me. The irony is that the more the Boss lifts me up, the more inspired I am to encourage others. There’s no competition in loving.
Sometimes I bump into the Chief in life’s halls and fumble a thank you for allowing me to participate. We both know there are those better than me and more deserving, but the Boss says I’ve got heart. I believe in the company mission: Extend Love. I would be lying if I told you every day was personally rewarding. To be honest, some days are a tough challenge. There have been seasons I am ashamed to admit where I have looked elsewhere for meaning. But I always come back. Nothing in this world feels as soul-right or enables me such a depth of joy. The Boss knows how to get the best out of me. Most days I just feel crazy-grateful that “the Boss” entrusts me with a square inch of planet to work at love and participate in the larger “Redemptive project.”
Despite what you might have heard, in “the Company of Saints,” everyone is invited to join, valued and belongs for life. If someone tells you otherwise, then find me and I’ll personally introduce you to the “Boss” myself. The Chief answers to a host of names. I am fond of simply, God.
To live soulfully, is to ponder, “Why me?” “What is it that I am meant to do here?” “Where is God hoping I will leave my mark of love?”
Live in Hope,
(Corresponding from Life’s “mailroom”)
The Second Mountain is the all- staff read at my job. David Brooks, an author I enjoy, has gifted us with a nice treatise on how to live more meaningful, sacred lives.
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