A Matter of Hope
That last post was written carefully. (I adapted it from an email to friends, and even then I was careful.) It is exceptionally important, I think, to speak and write carefully when our hearts are full of less than pleasant things. As, truth be told, mine is when it comes to much of the news I shared. I wanted to be clear that I see the direction we are headed as good, and to make it clear that I trust God is working these things for good.
However, the reality is that I am not particularly happy about the decision. At times, I’ve been everything from mildly disappointed to deeply angry about it.
So consider this an opportunity to vent – and like all opportunities to vent, keep it in context. I know the theological truths; I’ve explained to others how I’m holding onto them in the midst of this very circumstances. But sometimes it helps to blow off steam. So here I am.
The simple reality is: I have no desire to stay in Oklahoma for an additional five months, and even less (yes, that comes out to be negative desire) to remain at my current job for that additional time. The former because after nearly seven years, this state is really starting to wear on me. Between the wind, the heat, the lack of hills (yes, I know there are a few; and that is precisely my point), and the general plainness of the landscape, I’m done with Oklahoma as a locale. To those who love Oklahoma: God bless you; he has clearly given you grace and vision beyond mine.
The people in Oklahoma, generally speaking, are great. I like the people I know here. Except for their driving. I could probably create an entire post simply ranting about that, as my wife and many others can attest. I drove across an enormous expanse of the eastern half of the United States last summer; our trip totaled well over 3000 miles. We drove around in Boston on the Fourth of July; we drove through Brooklyn at rush hour; we drove early at morning; we drove late at night; we drove and we drove and we drove. And having done all that driving, I can safely say that I would rather drive any of the other places we drove than here in Oklahoma.
I don’t blame the Oklahomans, not really: it’s just that they’ve all been taught to drive in the most frustrating way imaginable. (Whoever decided to foist this joke on the rest of the nation, be warned: if I ever find you, I will thump you about the room. At length.)
My job is an enormous source of frustration to me, as well. Suffice it to say that government contracts and I are not made to have a long-term relationship. My admiration for others who can take the system as it is and fight the long slow fight against horrific measures of insanity, idiocy, and incompetence have my admiration. This number includes many of my Christian colleagues here, as well as my father, all of whom have endured this morass far longer than I have and remain steadfast.
I have always struggled when facing futility in my work, even as a small child. I loathed busywork throughout school; I cared nothing for projects merely meant to fill time, because I would rather do something – anything! – with value. Too much of our work here is a prolonged exercise in futility for my emotional health in the long run; the fact that the remainder of my run more than doubled in length put significant weight on my shoulders.
In the meantime, I am keeping my eyes on the fact that the one thing I do not see as futile despite a lack of change is relationships: only God can produce real fruit or change in people’s hearts. Unlike software development, where I really can accomplish things, people are an utterly intractable problem. It doesn’t bother me when I can’t fix people; it makes sense to me that I can’t. But I’m here at least in part (and perhaps in very large part) so that I can be a light to the men and women I work with.
I am, as it turns out, profoundly upset not to be moving to North Carolina when we originally planned. I have moments bordering on depression; I certainly feel melancholy about it regularly. I have bouts of anger.
But I also have hope. And as with all of life, I find that much of our response to our situations comes down to hope. Do we have hope that our choices will matter, that God is in fact working all things to our glory and his good, that we are not wasting our days? If we have that hope – as I do, here in circumstances I do not prefer – then we can press on. The absence of that hope is painful and debilitating.
I may not prefer, emotionally, the right choice right now. But it is more than worth it, and I am thoroughly hopeful that out of it God will work many good things. Perhaps most of all he will continue to work in me a greater trust in him.