“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” –Annie Dillard
As a 4th year at the University of Virginia, when asked, “what are you doing next year?,” I hear: “what are you going to do with your life?” But in the 4th year pursuit to formulate a vision for my job, my relationships, my next few years, my whole life—I have found that what I really need to focus on is what to do with the day in front of me, that is,what God desires for me to do with that day. I believe that God has called me every day to see the equal dignity of those around me, but when thinking about my career—through the UVa worldview of success—it has been hard to see equal value in every walk of life.
While contemplating the future in front of me, I have noticed that I ascribe to various definitions of success, not all of which can be reconciled with God’s daily call on my life. I realized that I need to “unlearn” many of the presumptions that UVa has impressed upon me. When I think about career, I find myself believing that I desire and even deserve specific jobs—where I’ll do important work that truly matters. UVa students tend to envision investment banks and consulting firms, teaching (if it’s through TFA), fancy non-profits, start-ups, or think-tanks as being “worthy.” Yet as Christians, we are also called to affirm the equal value and dignity of the lifetime spent working in the service industry. I have seen my own hypocrisy manifest in trying to be extra kind to the janitor while believing I am too good to possess his job.
A paradox emerges: how can I say that I appreciate another person’s dignity, that I see the value of another’s time, if I believe that the way she spends that time is in a job that is inherently beneath me? These past few months have pointed out the hypocrisies of my heart and challenged me to push back against many of the things that UVa, intentionally or unintentionally, has taught me about success and importance.
Every job allows for people to serve God and serve others. Every job allows me to affirm God’s glory in others daily. If this is our daily calling and, in turn, the ultimate calling of vocation, there is comfort in knowing that though I may not know where I am going to be—I know that I can love God and love others where I am now. When I reflect back on what I “did” with my life, I hope it will be spent loving God and loving others every day, with a continual understanding that my career is just a vessel for this daily vocation.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)