Posted on: April 16, 2020 Posted by: vudfc Comments: 0

This post is part of a series about creating and testing rules to live by. Click here to head to the first post and see the list of “rules.”

Love life but, aside from human relationships, make as many things as possible “unnecessary” for that enjoyment. Be passionate yet unreliant.

I have a cool job. I could go into how it can be difficult and time-consuming and frustrating, but that would mostly be a vain attempt at making it seem like I’m something special. I’m not. It is.

I work at one of the best places in the nation (it is documented) and what I get to do there is live out my faith in a winsome way, make friends, support those friends, and try to make the work experience and lives of the people around me better. Oh, and mostly I get to do this with a lot of trust and pretty fantastic resources. Also, I get to work with a team of people better than me—nicer and smarter by bounds. To say I have a one-in-a-million job would likely be an understatement. (I mean this literally. How many corporate pseudo-chaplain-friend positions have you seen in the classifieds? Yup, me neither.)

What has come of having a really cool job is the realization that it can’t get much better than this vocationally for me. A few years ago I invited Matt Holliday in to share with some of the friends I have here at the company. At that time, Holliday was the starting left-fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team I had always dreamed of playing for if, you know, I had been good at baseball and all. The Cardinals never came calling, but as Matt and I sat at a hotel and talked through the impending live interview I would be trying to cobble together, I had this odd realization: I wouldn’t trade jobs with him. Sure, $17 million a year would be kind of awesome, but even considering that, I’m pretty sure I’d stay right where I am doing just what I’m doing.

And when you really like your job and care for the people you get to be around, you perform. It just makes sense. Passion breeds purpose—or maybe vice versa? Either way you work really hard to be good—or as good as you can be. This leads to a measure of fulfillment and helps make a guarantee: I’m not going to lose this job!

But then a virus hits. A company that is first in its “field” is suddenly vulnerable. The formerly irreplaceable role I filled is instantly made a needless luxury when money gets tight, when business is threatened.

Now, let me be clear, I’m probably not going to lose my job. But I could. And so could you. And that applies to really any good thing. Always.

I think of Mickey Arison. He is the chairman of Carnival Corporation, of Carnival Cruise fame (and now infamy), a formerly wildly profitable endeavor. Now it is an albatross of a thing, a liability, a, well, sinking ship. Just. Like. That.

Attached to your physicality? Car accident can take that away.

Attached to your car? Here comes the hail.

Attached to your home? Fire, anyone?

You likely see my point. We should connect deeply with things in our lives, but we should also be free from entangling, ensnaring things that can vanish like a mist.

Getting to experience the momentary reality that I could lose my job—that the company I love could be in trouble—helped me to test the attachment. If that causes some sadness, some pain? Well, that is good and shows connection and love. If that fills me with unrelenting anger, with crippling anxiety, with a doom-and-gloom sense that life will never be good or worth it again? Well, then my identity has formed an inseparable attachment to a thing that is always prone to severance.

So what do I do?

I love each day that I get to do my job. I work hard at it. I dream and plan for the future of the role. I hope. But I also safeguard myself from total dependency on it. I keep investments diversified—in my case, I store up an increasing number of my treasures (my loves) in Heaven. I remind myself each day that the good things I have are incredible and also incredibly temporal. So I love them well, and steward them wisely. But never do I stake my dependence on a thing that can be wiped out by someone misreading a traffic signal or a weather pattern or, even, a virus.

Without __________, life wouldn’t be worth living. What things do you put in your blank? It is those things that will restrict, that will threaten. They aren’t bad usually, but when they occupy the wrong seat, they can become dangerous. They are made to be passengers, not drivers.

Or, a different analogy—imagine after years of contentedly living in a one-room apartment being gifted an expansive manor in which to reside. Can you see it? It is sprawling and wondrous. The lush grounds, the stately, enormous house, all of it is beautiful. Each day you fall more in love with the lot you’ve been given. You explore and run and picnic and post photos online sharing your good fortune. And then you get a notice that you can no longer explore the outdoors around the manor—the yard and woods and trails are off-limits. Well, at least you have your stately manor house. You gaze longingly out the window, wishing for the former times. And then you get another notice that the windows will be boarded up. Another massive loss. You are sad, but life goes on. Next a wing of the home is closed off to you. Once it is taken from you, you come to realize that it was, indeed, your favorite part of the home. Then a room in the wing that is still available to you is forbidden. Then another room. And soon you are confined to a single room in a stately manor house. You are back where you started, yet you feel a great deal worse. You are devastated and left wondering if life is even worth living like this.

The things I have in life have been given to me. As much as I dupe myself, I didn’t earn these things. Not wholly. It is by no aptitude of mine that my eyes see or ears hear. My brain (mostly) functions—not due to some merit of character. I’m somewhat educated—but I grew up in a nation that values and provides education, and I was born to parents who modeled learning and had the means to direct me toward college. I could go on and on, but why not just rely on ancient text to carry the burden: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.”

So enjoy things. Save. Buy. Use. Share. But forever hold on loosely for things that are on loan—most the things in my life are rentals; here today, gone tomorrow. And everything I have is more complex than the misguided notion: I deserve this!

Coming to know my attachments and safeguard myself from untoward dependency will allow me to adapt in life. But, more importantly, it will show me, by comparison, what things transcend. With that knowledge—that wisdom—I can begin to free myself from the grip of material things and cling tightly to that which cannot be taken from me: character, integrity, faith, hope, love. Love.

So now it is back to work. I will complete my job diligently today, aware that the guarantee of it lasts for merely a moment. I’ll work hard, but, more importantly, I’ll work wise—to all my job is and all it is not; to all I am and all I’m not. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, I smile on liberated.

Love life but, aside from human relationships, make as many things as possible “unnecessary” for that enjoyment. Be passionate yet unreliant.

(Quick Virus Application (QVA-19) – This is pretty easy, right? A pandemic impacts pretty much everyone in a variety of ways. You question your vocation and even what “vocation” means to your life. You question familial and social ties. You question why you continue to grab the remote just to confirm that Ellen’s Game of Games is the “best” thing on. For me, aside from the aforementioned vocational introspection, I’ve considered how sports fit into my life. What I’ve learned? I can do without them! I’m free! And with that freedom, it means I can consume them when they come back on, but it is liberty from having my rooting interests define me. Ways great and small, this virus has allowed us to sift our loves in order to determine what is valuable and let what is not fall away.)

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