Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wrestling with this

This is something I've wrestled with off and on for the past year or so. Two warring ideas, and where you draw a middle ground:

1. Adult lesson of the world: You are not that special. What you do, thousands of other people can do better than you do. Accept that you're kind of a meaningless cog in a machine

2. One of the lessons of Christianity: You have been created for a special purpose; you are here for a reason. Therefore, on some level, you are special.

I don't think it's either-or. I don't think it's either "you're special" or "you aren't," I think there's something somewhere inbetween that I can't quite grasp or understand. Perhaps it's that embedded in the idea of #2 is the acceptance that everyone else in the world is such, even if they don't choose to believe it. And also that your special purpose almost certainly involves some element of service, either to other people or to the rest of the living world (what is sometimes theologically referred to as Creation. And I would argue that service to Creation in the aspect of, for example, restoring a woodland or watching over a population of some endangered species is in itself a type of holy service)

But I don't know. In my work life and in just everyday life, I regularly get #1 handed to me. Some times, at the end of a difficult week, I have a hard time believing I'm very good at ANYTHING.

I made the comment to a colleague one day, in the middle of frustration (we were being told by someone much higher-up to do something that we both agreed was counter to the actual purpose of what we had been hired to do) that I felt these days like I was having a larger positive impact at my church than at my job.

And I realized a few weeks ago - I get a lot more positive feedback on what I do at church than I do at work. Now, granted, something would probably be wrong were that NOT the case, but the difference between what I hear after doing something at church vs. what I tend to hear at work is kind of striking.

I also sometimes find the idea of a "special purpose" kind of terrifying: what if I've actually missed mine? What if I was supposed to do something else with my life and I got so tracked onto doing what I thought I should be doing that I missed the signs? Or, what if I'm not working hard enough or doing well enough at what I'm "supposed" to be doing?

I don't know. A lot of the time I don't feel "special" at all. I would like to feel more "special." Not in the entitled sense that can roll over other people and push them aside, but in the sense of being more willing to celebrate what an who I am, rather than apologize for it...

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I see "feeling special" as a confidence thing. I am not one with a ton of confidence, so I often do not feel special BUT the few things I am good at make me feel that way. I also consider that not feeling special makes me or reminds me to be more humble. Which frankly I wish I saw more people having a little bit of humble in their attitude.

Personally I also think that large, red-tape employers go out of their way to make you feel not special on purpose. But I know that you do an excellent job and have sometimes commented on how you are so grateful that you grok something where others don't. I think this is a sign of feeling special in its own way.

Somedays we are just harder on ourselves than others.