Appreciating Blessings

“We don’t need you this week.”

Those are the words I heard when I called in after returning from my trip to check in with my schedule at job #3 for the week.

That simple sentence cut through me like a paper cut through my gut. They’re words that do not appear very menacing, significant, or substantial, and yet I fear their implication. I started this job three weeks ago knowing that it would be temporary, but now I am afraid that “temporary” means “will be over within the month” It’s not as if it’s unexpected, but it reminds me to not get too comfortable with where I’m at.

Last week at the conference I attended, I met many wonderful people with big hearts and uncertain futures, people who believe in doing good in their communities in God’s name, and reconciling broken homes, communities, an cities to a better place. There were powerful and prominent individuals humbly pursing goals of personal and community development. In the midst of these grand visions, my desire to actually have a full-time job seemed selfish and underwhelming.

I felt convicted about where I am and where I’m coming from, and was reminded once more about how far I am from having a clue what the future holds. The conviction drilled into me, reminding me how much I love education and how long I’ve held onto it as a way forward, even in the midst of inequality, inflated tuition, and overwhelming structural impediments. I would love to work at a college or university with students who are pursuing their dreams and working towards creating a better tomorrow for themselves and  their families.

Before I left Minneapolis, a friend of a friend took me around the city for a tour that included stops at their famous cherry and spoon sculpture, the University of Minnesota campus, and Lake Calhoun, one of over 1,000 lakes in the state. As we walked around the lake, we noticed a man painting the scene before him: a winding path, yellowing leaves, and a placid body of water. It’s a pretty picture and a peaceful scene, and as I saw it, I realized how hard it is for me to see the beauty in every day life. I see struggle, challenge, and shortcomings, but I don’t appreciate the relationships, opportunities, and adventures that I have.

I have to believe that me not having a full schedule this week is because I need this time to process things and figure life out, to look for next steps and lift my foot to take one. I need to live with more grace for myself and others and enjoy the blessings I have received. I may not have any substantial income or any illustrious position right now, but I do have faith in a good God and more than I need. Not having a full-time job does not make my life bad; it just means I have some more time to develop myself and work in the community.

If only I could see the good in every day, and not just when I fly to a place far, far away.