Yesterday a Facebook friend posted this on her wall:
This is an honest question, something I’m pondering, and I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on the topic. It has generally been my approach to accept opportunities that unexpectedly fall in my lap or doors that swing open without too much effort on my part—I tend to take that as an indication that it is the right path for me. But I wonder…should one bypass those open doors and strive for something bigger sometimes? Where does a disjointed series of open doors lead? Is it like a dream deferred? And if there isn’t a clear alternative to the door that is open….hmmmmm. Generally the doors that open aren’t the ones I hoped would open! Sometimes I put a lot of effort into prying open doors that stay shut.
Over the years, I’ve found that opportunities tend to appear whether we’re actively seeking them or not. Sometimes there may be a dry spell, but then something will pop up, sometimes to our surprise. When I’ve been surprised by an opportunity that seems good, or at least reasonable, sometimes the temptation is just to jump on it before it slips away. And I’ve done that with things that seemed possible for me to do, that might bring in a little money, and that sounded at least somewhat interesting. So I’ve accepted some of them, and done them for awhile, and then moved on. But I don’t think this is really the issue my friend is touching on here.
Just because something appears unexpectedly without our making any effort, does that mean it’s necessarily the right thing? It depends on what we mean by “the right thing.” I happen to know that the friend who posed this question is a person of considerable and varied talents who often finds herself in jobs that have nothing whatsoever to do with her talents. Sure, I know we all need to earn money, but let’s be careful that we don’t confuse the need for a “day” job to keep us going while we develop our talents, with the real and genuine need to bring out and utilize our talents to the fullest—to make our dreams come true and do what we really LOVE.
I’ve been confronted with this dilemma my entire life, and I can’t say things have turned out exactly the way I would have liked. But I refuse to give a “day” job the importance in my thought that I give to my dream. And when it comes to picking a job out of the various opportunities that present themselves, I do take the time now to consider whether my choice will be manageable or whether it will suck my soul away and keep me away from my dreams. We all do the best we can when it comes to taking care of our basic needs, but we need to be alert to protect ourselves, especially if we are creative types.
I must say that when it comes to my dreams, even if I’ve tried to pry open doors that have stubbornly remained shut, even if I’ve been rebuffed and ignored, that still won’t stop me from nourishing my dream, working at it, loving it, valuing it, seeing that it is deserving, respecting it, protecting it, caring for it, appreciating it, offering it.
If it seems as if there’s no alternative to the doors that are opening to the “day” jobs, just keep cherishing the dream. Those doors don’t open to the dream, so they don’t really matter all that much. Keep them separate. Isolate them. I believe that our true job is to know that the gift we’ve been given comes with its own fulfillment, and if we’re patient and diligent, eventually the real doors will open to us.
The secret is not to identify ourselves with the jobs that we may have to do along the way to sustain ourselves. This doesn’t mean we don’t do our best at them or that we approach them with a negative attitude. It’s kind of like cleaning the house. It’s something that needs to be done, even though we may not feel like doing it. So we do it as cheerfully as we can, but we’re not thinking the whole time: “I’m a house cleaner. This is who I am.” Our identification should always be with our God-given gifts, no matter what other things we may have to do along the way to keep ourselves going. This is where we belong.