Recently, I’ve had a difficult time thinking about anything besides the work being done at Choices Clinic. My formal title there is “Administrative Assistant,” but at a nonprofit, you wear a multitude of different hats. My favorite hat to wear is “Client Advocate,” where I’m able to meet with a client, listen to her story, and learn who she is and what brought her into the clinic. Every client is different: some go to great lengths to share their story, others go to great lengths to keep you at bay. After laying the foundation for developing a relationship, you discuss different options and walk with the client, not coercing her into a decision, but empowering her to make an informed decision based on true choices. However, from the moment I walk through my front door, I want to take a mental break and work on other projects. Perhaps it’s unwinding with a run, or writing on my blog to decompress. When I’m busy with other activities, I can leave my work behind. But when it’s just me, the keyboard, and silence, I cannot think about anything else but work these days. I’ve put off blogging for weeks because I couldn’t think beyond the clinic, and I was having trouble pulling concepts and life lessons learned there. Oh, how I loathe you, writers block.
So tonight, as I sat down and stared blankly at my keyboard for the fourteenth day in a row, I turned to my current reads as a cry for inspiration. The two books I’ve been slowly (but surely!) working through are When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, and The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse. Both of these texts are relevant and fascinating reads, rich with ideas, wisdom, and experience. When Helping Hurts unpacks the subject of alleviating poverty without further hurting the poor. The Vanishing American Adult explores the coming-of-age crisis experienced in America (targeted at my generation, millennials) and how parents can empower their children to rebuild a culture of self-reliance. I think you can see how both of these books are not only relevant to me as an individual, but how they relate to my work. I’ve only recently began reading Sasse’s book, but tonight as I was reading, I came across this quote:
“… consumption is not the key to happiness; production is. Meaningful work – that actually serves and benefits a neighbor, thereby making a real difference in the world – contributed to long-term happiness and well-being. Consumption just consumes” (9).
Now that’s enlightening. Production over consumption. Creating over consuming. In a consumeristic culture, especially my generation, Sasse notes we’re losing sight of wants vs. needs. Furthermore, we’re constantly tempted to consume more, as a means to fill that void we call happiness. Whether that be easily accessed through social media on your smartphone, the latest trends you simply “have to have,” and so on – where do we find the balance? Later in my reading, I found another quote that struck me. Here, Sasse is quoting Arthur Brooks, the president of American Enterprise Institute:
The “deep truth” is that “work, not money, is the fundamental source of our dignity. Work is where we build character” (155).
This brought me full circle to my recent reading of Tim Keller’s work Every Good Endeavour, where Keller states “work of all kinds, whether with the hands or the mind, evidences our dignity as human beings – because it reflects the image of God the Creator in us” (48).
I know, I know – I just spent this whole time building up to how I didn’t want to talk about work, only to talk about work! But here’s the thing – I realize boundaries with my work is vital, and practicing self care needs to be implemented throughout my day. But the work being done at Choices is something that truly excites me, and my thinking is often consumed by ideas of how we can further improve the work that’s being accomplished. Through my work, both physically and mentally, I’m creating. And God, the greatest creator of all time, created people in His image! I’ve referenced this notion earlier in my blog post here. In Laurel, I see how the work done at Choices “serves and benefits a neighbor,” and I want to learn how we can further serve and benefit our neighbors. Is this what it feels like to be passionate about what you do? I believe our worldview shapes how we see reality, and our actions reflect our worldview.
All work matters. Your work matters. Creating matters. The question remains: do you believe that?