I had to face it; I hated my job. This was what seven years of slacking my way through college had gotten me. I was sitting in a cubicle editing philosophy curriculum written by a lawyer. Talk about pretentious use of the English language. Legal-speak was bad enough. But philosophical legal-speak? Forget about it.
What could I do? I had made my professional bed; there was nothing to do now but uncomfortably toss on it. And so I continued in my corporate daze for another two years, acquiring an irritatingly reasonable husband along the way. “You hate your job? So do something about it,” he cheerfully recommended. Clearly, I thought, this man doesn’t have a clue how the world works. You have to get in at the beginning if you want the kind of jobs people dream of. You can’t just come in at the embarrassingly elderly age of 26 and expect anyone to give you a break. There’s too many of those talented young kids coming up behind you.
I couldn’t even bring myself to pray for God’s assistance. With every skipped class and wasted weekend, I had earned my cubicle millstone, so I certainly couldn’t expect God to provide anything better now — I just had to accept that I had missed out on my dreams. Besides, I thought, He doesn’t really care what I do for a living, just as long as I work hard at it . . . no matter how miserable it is.
All this, of course, was an excuse to do nothing. And so I did for a few months more, feeling sorry for myself and resigning myself to a career in mediocrity. Until I came upon a verse in Joel: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten: the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm” (2:25). Finally, I got it! It made sense in a way no Tony Robbins or Stephen Covey ever would: God could easily make up for my squandered post-high school years. It didn’t matter what the locust was, whether it be the locust of lazy study habits or shamefully inebriated fraternity parties. God promised not only to wipe the disgrace away, He promised to help me make up for lost time. The question was, since I still needed my hated job to pay the bills, how was I to begin?
I found the answer in Ecclesiastes 11:6, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that.” I copied that verse and taped it on the wall above my computer at home. And then I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote articles about modeling and wedding invitations, Leopard frogs and Arizona’s Mormon Lake. A few were eventually picked up and published, but none was enough to rescue me from the dreaded corporate ladder. I began to despair that my working life would never change. After all, I’d been trying my best for a whole six months. To a Generation X-er like me, that may as well have been a lifetime.
The problem was, I had only solved half the equation. True, I was writing, but I was writing about things I didn’t really care (or frankly even know) about. Thanks to His promise in Jeremiah to give me hope and a future, I believed God wanted me to use my talent. And unlike the wicked servant in the parable, I believed He wanted me to strive for excellence. But for some reason I still wasn’t finding much success. Now, you fellow writers could have spotted my problem a mile away. As any English 101 student will tell you, you have to write what you know. And while I may not have picked up much Kierkegaard or Milton in college, I did, like many in my entertainment-soaked age-group, spend an inordinate amount of time watching movies. Big budget, foreign, independent, it didn’t matter, so long as I was on the couch watching Bravo at three o’clock in the afternoon instead of in some boring Spanish lab.
Finally, it occurred to me that I could do more with the vast cinematic knowledge I’d acquired than beat my husband at trivia at TGI Fridays. I’d always loved movies and had taken quite a few film courses over the years (which, believe it or not, I actually attended). But as a Christian, they began to hold even more interest for me. In many ways, movies are the cultural mirrors of our time, and with my newfound faith, I loved analyzing how their worldview compared to the Christian worldview. With this in mind, I wrote a review of the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report and offered it to my church for its weekly newsletter. Much to my delight, the article was accepted! High off that success, I started sending reviews to a Web site looking for Christian freelance writers, and a few months later, I was hired there also!
The truth is, I didn’t believe God could make room for me in the already saturated world of entertainment writing, so I tried to force myself to do what I considered “real writing” for “real magazines.” It wasn’t until I stopped pushing (though I kept working) that God blessed me more than I even dared to ask. Along the way, I developed a greater trust in His love, and discovered that, as His child, He did care about my work and wanted me to do it with all my heart. After many years of feeling suspicious and jealous of those who confidently threw the word around, I finally understood what people meant by “calling.”
Obviously, my sphere of writing has expanded, and so, along with it, has my calling. And now I see that as much as I hated that corporate ladder, for someone else, whom God has gifted at it, it probably brings tremendous joy (go figure!). But to all my fellow slackers in arms, I encourage you to step out in faith and pursue the work God has gifted you for. Trust in His calling, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). And if you happen to be a late, formerly lazy starter like me, consider taping the following Chinese proverb to your wall: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time is today.
Copyright © 2003 Megan Basham. All rights reserved.