I had about 15 seconds to spare as I stood by my kitchen sink, waiting for my water bottle to fill up. It doesn’t take long for my mind to switch to its usual preoccupations. I was thinking of work.
Not the work I immediately had to do – 15 seconds wouldn’t be enough to sort that out! – but work in general. My job. My career.
In my wandering mind, I likened my life to a garden. There I saw an area overgrown with weeds – the corner of the garden marked out as “work”. The more I compared my career with others, the more the weeds of worry seemed to grow.
Their gardens seemed to be flourishing with fulsome, blooming varieties of financial security and career progression, while mine felt sad in comparison. I don’t even know how long my current job arrangement will last, and if I am cut out for the job.
When I looked at other gardens, I only saw how bad mine looked in comparison.
I came to realise that should I spend time comparing myself to others, I would neglect tending to what I had in my garden. Instead of thinking of ways to grow my skill sets, I would cease to take pride in my work. I lamented yet remained passive, and that nurtured a worrisome heart.
I thought that I might appear more successful if I had a full-time job instead of holding on to contract jobs. I thought that if I would be more fulfilled if I could have something more substantial on my resume – a “conventional” job arrangement so I don’t seem like a failure.
A worried heart is fertile soil for half-truths and flat-out lies. Whether waiting for my water bottle to fill up (or for the green man to appear on the traffic light), I found myself entertaining such thoughts over and over again.
“I don’t think God cares about what’s going on in my life. He’s too big for that.”
Even a quick examination of that accusation against God would have deflated the argument; but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do that. Somehow I found myself special enough that God would overlook me – just me.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
Am I not of value to my heavenly Father? In response to such a magnificent truth, my grumbling and self-doubt had to give way to a careful evaluation of the way I was living. And then I realised that my main gripe wasn’t really about my job or what I was doing – but whether it all mattered to God.
What I realised, then, was that I had a responsibility to my job, whatever the title was and however long it was I was doing it for. I have a purpose, and it is to honour God with the work of my hands. This matters to Him.
The more I sought clarity on my goal – that He be glorified through me – and remembered His love for me, the less I doubted His heart towards me.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
It may have been more practical to pray for a different job when I was feeling anxious about my future or career prospects. But I didn’t. Instead, I held on to a little prayer I had whispered under my breath more than one year ago.
Back then, I prayed that He would help me become a useful person – it was my moment with God most High and I knew that He heard me. I prayed that I’d be useful wherever I work. That prayer remains.
When I forget my value, He calls me to look at creation and rest in the knowledge that He is my Father and provider. And in that rest I find strength again to ask that He uses me – everything I offer – and makes me fit for every work that is set before me.
I just have to be faithful to tend to what is in my garden.