Working Woes | Living For A God Of Labor

Two weeks ago, I sat at a booth in a pub in Iowa City with a handful of friends as we waited on a last round of Irish car bombs before heading our separate, post-graduation ways.

Fast forward through a few more drinks, a little bit of crying, A LOT of packing, and more traveling than I’d ever care to do again in a 48 hour period, and I’m here, in my one bedroom apartment in Palm Beach County, Florida.

I’ve got a bed, a couch, some mismatched furniture that I plan to strip and paint, an old set of dishes from my college apartment (amongst a few other hand-me-down essentials), and a job.

And I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that my new life is somewhat lacking in glamour—my living room is so empty that it has an echo, the temperature in my apartment is kept at a balmy 79 degrees (because I’m scared to death of what my electric bill will look like if I run the AC all day), and I cannot for the life of me get my shower curtain rod to stop falling off the wall in my bathroom.

But I’m working—and that’s a gift.

A priest in the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Fr. Mike Schmitz, explained in a homily that he gave a few years ago (which is now streaming online here) that our ability, desire, and calling to work are what make us human.

And work (amongst a few other things) is how we’re made in God’s likeness.

Genesis—the first book of the Bible—describes God’s creation of the world. It basically went like this: God made heaven, and saw that it was good. God made water, and saw that it was good. God made the earth, and saw that it was good, and so on, and so forth. Our very first glimpse of God in the Bible is God at work. And what’s more—His work is good.

Fr. Schmitz goes on to explain that as human beings, our perception of work has become distorted as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin. Amidst their fall from the garden, “work was turned upside down. Work became toil”.

And so, because of this, we often see work as something to be endured rather than seeing it for what it is—a blessing.

This work that I’m doing—1300 miles away from my family and friends—is important. Not because it’s for a particular political party or because I’m under the delusion that I’m changing the world from a beach on the west side of the Atlantic, but because this work is changing me. This work will mold me and grow me and—if I let it—push me a little bit closer to becoming the person I’m supposed to be.

So tonight—a Friday night—while my friends back in Joliet are out at a bar (probably), I’ll be here, with my Netflix account and my glass of wine (that I just spilled all over my bedroom carpeting—thank you, God, that my mom buys white). But all the while, I’ll be grateful—because on Monday morning, I’ll get up and go to work—and that is a beautiful thing.

Timing is everything.

For those of us who graduated from college this month, this milestone marks the end of a significant portion of our young lives. Now, as many of my friends and family can attest to, I’m an unusual case in that I’ve been looking forward to post-grad life for a while now—I’ve never been one to turn down adventure, and the unknown future is an adventure in itself.

But for those of us who fear the unpredictability of what’s to come or are simply mourning the loss of adolescent freedoms and college life in general, consider this: timing.

God has created an allotted time for everything under the sun (read Ecclesiastes 3:1-9). So as we travel through life, sometimes gracefully and other times, stumbling, God’s timing is on our side.

In my own life, as I look back on the four years I spent in undergrad, hindsight allows me to recognize the purpose behind my periods of stumbling. My sophomore year was messy, for example—I started my college experience from scratch as a transfer student at a new school in a very different state—but in the midst of my mess, I realized my love for politics and picked up a second major. I got to know (and learned to love) myself that year. Now, as I start my first real job on a political campaign in Florida, I am often amazed at how far God has brought me.

Zora Neale Hurston was famously quoted saying: “There are years that ask questions and there are years that answer.” And in reading that, you might be nodding your head and thinking that this upcoming year is punctuated by a big, fat question mark.

But rest assured, God has the answer.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

So, be not afraid of what’s ahead—we’re all living on God’s time anyway.