Sometimes, God has a way of giving me words that I need to hear exactly when I need to hear them. Such was the case last night.
My ultimate career goal is to be a full-time novelist. If this means that I have a part-time job on the side to help me pay my bills, then so be it. I'm ok with that. But putting 8 hours in every day at a job I'm not in love with is getting to be really really hard.
Yet, at this point in my life, it's necessary. But it still doesn't stop frustration from creeping in and overwhelming me. That frustration stems from not being able to be a full-time novelist right now. It's a dream I've been chasing for years and years, and I'm not there yet. That "yet" gets to me sometimes, just like it did last night, and I feel profoundly unhappy.
Thankfully, I read a parable in the book of Matthew that made things much more bearable. Called the Parable of the Talents, part of it revolves around using your talents, investing in them, and doing it not for only your own happiness, but for the happiness of others. I found a wonderful blog post that explores this parable in greater depth (though this is but one view - I have found others that look at it differently), and a few paragraphs really spoke to me:
"I know from experience that if I undertake some action to create increase only for myself, there’s very little energy to it, and it doesn’t usually increase my happiness. But if I focus on creating increase for others (such as by helping people grow), then I feel great joy in doing that, and it ultimately creates increase for me too.
But there’s more to it than that. Happiness is a quality that I inject into my work, not something I derive from it. When I work only for myself, I’m looking for happiness outside myself. Trying to achieve happiness that way doesn’t work. But when I work for others’ benefit and turn off WIIFM for a while (What’s In It For Me?), I tap into the deep wells of happiness that are already inside me. Instead of trying to achieve happiness, I happily achieve. Happiness flows outward from me and into the work I do, so I experience it as an outflow, not an inflow."
Am I "happily achieving" in my day job as well as in my writing? Hmm. That's a good question, and one I need to explore more in-depth. But this parable also makes me believe that it is possible to find greater contentment in life by simply looking at the day job through different eyes. The key is to keep that mindset.
What are your thoughts?