Here’s a truth about me: I don’t have it all figured out.
What? A college sophomore, well into the challenge of completing the coursework that will eventually lead to a degree that will eventually lead to a job that will eventually lead to lifelong purpose and ultimate fulfillment, hasn’t figured out what she wants to do with her life yet?
That’s right. I don’t really have a clue.
And when I write it out a little cynically as I did above, I see the ridiculousness of this pressure. I’m not even 20-years-old, yet. Why should I be expected to know what sort of job I’ll hold for the rest of my life and where I want to hold it? Why should I be expected to have put my life into a checklist, an obstacle course of challenges to tackle orderly, all the while working towards a specific, unshakable goal? Who sets these expectations, who orders the well-lived human life, and why do I sense such a strong need to adhere to such arbitrary guidelines?
Following a logical sequence of steps steals the joy out of the experience, I’ve found.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 (ESV)
So I decided to take a firmer grasp on my joy, to seek out this abundant life that Christ offers. I decided that, instead of working towards security, I’d rather work towards a Christ-guided adventure. Above all, and especially above working on developing myself into a marketable jobholder, I want to work on developing myself as a human being.
So I changed my major.
I came into my freshman year as a double major and double minor: secondary education and English/language arts majors; theatre arts and Kuyper scholars minors. The goal was to become a high school English teacher and direct after school plays. As a little girl, I’d wanted to be a teacher, and when my passions for English and theatre emerged later in life, it made sense to focus on teaching these subjects.
But that was the problem. This plan made too much sense.
I went to my education classes, and it was fine. Friend, please make sure you hear this point: Dordt’s education department is remarkable, and it’s the professors that make it so. When it came time to make my four-year plan, the list of necessary courses I’d be taking for my remaining semesters to attain my degree, my education advisor was the one who put my anxious spirit at ease, making sense of the mess of courses and schedules for me. Whenever I entered an education course, the professors were always intentional about knowing my name, about making expectations clear, and about tying concepts to concrete practices. They truly prepare you to be a quality teacher, and not only a quality teacher, but a sincere Christian teacher, too. Dordt’s department prepares students to view their future students as image bearers of God, to incorporate their Christ-based understanding of the world’s workings into all elements of lesson planning, teaching, assessing, disciplining, encouraging, etc. Dordt’s education department has a mission, and they complete it well. If you’re called to teach, this is the department you want to prepare you.
But I found that I’m not called to teach. At least not in a school setting. Or at least not right now.
For reasons I couldn’t rationally explain, I’d leave my education courses with an overwhelming sense of angst. It wasn’t the professors. It wasn’t the amount of coursework. It wasn’t my classmates. So what was it? This angst would then seep over into other realms of my life, creating an overarching sense of uneasiness in all areas in my life.
My education major was sucking the life out of me, not because the department has issues that need to be worked through, but because I had decisions I needed to work through. I needed to realize that education wasn’t where God needed me to be focusing my efforts.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner (Christian author and theologian often quoted on Dordt’s campus)
So, after a 10-month prayer and conversation-based decision process, I decided to change my program of study a little bit: English writing and theatre acting/direction double major; Kuyper scholars minor.
This doesn’t seem like a huge alteration, but it has huge implications for my life.
If I’m not teaching, what sort of job will I hold after I graduate? I have no idea.
Am I really a good enough writer or a good enough actress to make it in such a competitive industry? Probably not.
I still love students, so how will I get my fix of interactions with young people if I’m not in a school setting? Not sure yet.
But here’s what I do know: God has granted me a passion for storytelling, and He doesn’t grant us these types of passions without wishing to see them fulfilled. English and theatre both feed that desire, so in seeking out the things that bring me life, I’m becoming a more full human being and, in turn, a more full Christ follower.
And here’s something more important that I’ve found: God is a lot bigger than my major. No matter what I end up studying, God will still use me to accomplish His purposes. The education courses I took were anything but a waste of time because (a) the discernment process that came with completing less-than-life-bringing coursework forced me into prayer and (b) now that those pedagogical concepts are in my head, they can be used. It’s the same with my English and theatre courses; I want to explore creation so much and get such a firm grasp on the way the world works that God can use me in any regard.
So I’m working on being a better human, a better disciple, I’m beyond grateful to be doing this exploring process in a community of people pursuing the same goal.
It’s really good stuff.