(This post originally appeared on my blog about running, but I wanted to cross post it here as well.)
So, I went out for an easy run yesterday. Nice leisurely, jog pace. It was much needed after an overwhelming day at work. Actually, this post is less about the run itself and more about what I was processing on the run. That’s one of the things I enjoy about running (and why I run without silly earbuds). I don’t engage in deep processing every time I run. Most of the time, I just try to enjoy the activity of running. But when I do need to let my mind work on some things, running is a wonderful activity for that.
My job is quite different from anything I’ve done vocationally before. Still in the early months, I’m finding that at least once a week I get overwhelmed by the differences. Up until a few months ago, my jobs were in ministry and largely relational. Now I build course sites and manage social media for a doctoral program. While I possessed all the raw ability to perform the job before I was hired, actually employing those skills in a way that is productive and contributes to the success and mission of the various programs is proving harder than I anticipated.
Sure, there is a learning curve or ramp-up period or whatever you’d like to call it. My supervisor (who is also a subscriber to this blog – hi LK!) expects that it may take up to a full year before I really feel like I have a handle on the rhythms inherent in the workflow. I’m fortunate to have some grace there. That being said, I still have some frustrating days where I feel like I’m all thumbs. I had one of those days yesterday.
As I was running, I kept thinking back to that book Isolation
I mentioned in a recent post
. The author writes about a process she calls “stripping,” during which someone in isolation is stripped of their vocationally-grounded identity. I didn’t think there was much left to strip, to tell you the truth. A lot of that was done during my exit from my last job in March.
What I found though, as my shoes beat out a rhythm on the pavement, is that even in these last few months I’ve been trying to form my identity around my new job. I pick up new things pretty easily. I understand what is required of me in this job and am confident I possess the skills and tools necessary to do it well. So when I have days where I feel like I’m not doing it well, it feels like a blow to my ego.
The stripping process is intended to get you down to the core of who you are so that God can root you in Him, for that’s where a follower of Christ really finds his or her identity. It is the only antidote to ministry-centered identity. And maybe that’s just the point. Instead of defining myself and finding my value in what I do, I need to finally learn who I am.