I believe that I’ve just entered a midlife crisis, but Ordinary Spouse says that’s ok, as long as I’m honest about it.
My occasional readers will know that faith is a constant struggle for me. Over on my ‘About‘ page, I say this…
I’m trying to be a disciple of Jesus. Really trying. But I’m not always successful, and I have a hard time reconciling my suburban middle-class life with my faith.
And roughly two years ago, I wrote this…
On a typical work day, I begin my morning in my house in suburbia, safely isolated from the world’s pains. At the appropriate time, my garage door goes up, I pull out in my car, close the door remotely, and drive to work. Once at work, I show my ID to a guard at the guardhouse, and drive through the gate and into a fenced-off research campus. I carry out this process in reverse when it is time to go home, and I tuck myself safely into the garage once more. Everything is clean and sterile. Not once do I have to deal with anyone else’s reality. For all I know, the whole world is middle class.
To be honest, I don’t know how to live with this.
I have often described my struggle by saying that my faith and work don’t really communicate with one another. It’s not that they’re in opposition to one another. They just don’t connect. I like my work. I’m doing precisely what I’ve been trained to do. But I’m not passionate about it.
So what am I passionate about?
For a while, I’ve found that focusing on hospitality has served as a guide to me. It doesn’t necessarily tell me where I’m going, but it does serve as a standard by which I can discern my way. And what is hospitality? As I’ve come to define it…
Hospitality is opening up a safe space for each of us to be authentically ourselves, and in that space to encounter God.
But what does that have to do with a midlife crisis…?
Sometime in the past year during one of our family’s trips to Laurelville, I told Ordinary Spouse that I’d probably enjoy working as their host. (The host welcomes guests and is generally on-call to help with any needs that arise.) “If that job ever opens up, I’d like to apply for it.”
Well – it opened up sooner than I expected. About four weeks ago, I saw it posted on Laurelville’s website. And even though I was fairly certain that there were too many obstacles in the way, I sent in my application.
Evidently, Laurelville was as interested in the possibilities as I was, and after three weeks of discussions I accepted a job offer last Friday.
I’m giving up well-paying job doing exactly what I was trained to do. I may or may not be over-qualified for what I’ll do now. But it’s a rather drastic break with the past and an entirely new direction in life.
This makes no sense to lots of people – especially the ones that I work with. Sometimes, it doesn’t even make sense to me.
I’m writing this just before I publish this blog post. As I was proof-reading things, I realized that parts of this post might sound pretty bleak. And that is precisely what I’m not feeling right now. In fact, I’m feeling energized by just about everything (with the possible exception of trying to sell our house).
And yet, the last four weeks just leaves me shaking my head and trying to catch my breath. I hope to do some more reflecting on all of this in the coming days, but this post is already too long and our family has already started to vigorously prepare for the move. I’ll be working at Argonne through the end of May and will be working at Laurelville by mid-June.
Since the beginning of my blog, my angst regarding middle-class life in the suburbs has been a recurring theme. I wonder what happens now.