And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
I was going to write a blog about how my internship is going, but I think I’ll share an insight that I had recently instead.
At Charles River, although I always worked hard and gave my tasks my best effort, I never really believed in my work. In fact, I always felt ambivalent about making money from Big Pharma on animal testing — two hugely controversial topics. When I met new people, I told them, “I write lab reports,” and de-emphasized the part where the results come from animal testing. Only very, very rarely did I arrive home upset or bothered by my work. When I rode out the gates, I left all Charles River-related problems and frustrations behind.
As a result, I separated my sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in life completely from my work. Work was work; I did it to make a living, but I never expected to feel gratified or validated by it. Instead, I found my joy in other places: In my faith, friends, family, and hobbies. Although I won’t pretend that I spent every minute blissfully happy, I did enjoy a calm peace that carried through my workdays.
Now I work at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, a bicycle advocacy group that I really do buy into. I believe in their mission and goals, and everything they work for closely touches one of my deep passions: Bicycling. In essence, without even realizing it, I’ve expanded my passion for bicycling into passion for my work at the Bicycle Alliance. I want to achieve something great for them, to finish my internship with a beautiful, smooth-running volunteer program that will dramatically broaden the Bicycle Alliance’s reach and potential for achievement. Lots of organizations use volunteers in highly responsible roles, and I have a dream of something that grand and meaningful for the Bicycle Alliance.
Unfortunately, the linking of a hobby with a job means that the many setbacks, disappointments, and frustrations that plague me here follow me into my private life. I found that I began basing my joy in life from my work, rather than on those healthy things I’d done before. I started feeling very low and unhappy, when objectively I knew life has hardly ever looked better for us: We own a home, my bike is fixed, Ian has an interesting, challenging job that he likes, we’re healthy, we found a wonderful church and are making friends there, we love living in Washington near our families… The list goes on and on.
It took me a long time to realize that I had once again shifted my sense of value and joy on how much I felt I had achieved at work. That’s a terrible way to live; joy shouldn’t be externally driven, but an interior cup filled by God and always overflowing. Now that I’m aware of it, I have started reminding myself of all these many blessings. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers,” James 1:2 – 4 says, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And really, who wouldn’t want to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything”?