I was a paralegal-in-training in the real estate section of the law department at Sears Roebuck and Co. at the very beginning of its slow descent to failure. How I ended up there is a long story, including a good track record at a local temp agency, Sears’ move to the suburbs, and a letter to the editor. (I’ll expand on those at a later date.)
But during my tenure there, in a position I never in my wildest dreams predicted, big changes happened regularly, including a shakeup in department and section head appointments as well as the expectations of law department professionals. Unfortunately, the man assigned as section head of the real estate section was, as they say, “rewarded for his incompetence.”
I, in a kind of second tier position, had little contact with him, but what I did have was not particularly enlightening nor helpful. And I’ll never forget the day, about a month after moving in, he stood in front of a group of highly-accomplished lawyers, paralegals, and assistants and gave us advice about the future.
He warned us about failing to plan financially for the future and suggested several strategies for success in retirement. It was evident he believed we needed a father figure to whom we could look for sage wisdom and guidance.
We did not.
And then he said, “And I hope you all have good, solid 5-, 10-, and 25-year goals for your life.”
You could hear the loud clicks as people’s ears shut off.
As we smirked about it after the meeting, I remember saying to my colleagues something like if 5 or 10 or 25 years ago you would have told me I was going to be standing in the Sears building, in Hoffman Estates, working in a law office, I would have told you to go and lie down – you must have bumped your head REALLY hard.
I don’t think plans are bad or wrong. Go with your bad planning self – I am here for you. I’m not in charge. In fact, I could write this many words on the virtues of planning and the pitfalls of failing to plan.
And it’s not that I didn’t ever make plans. In fact, at one time I thought it was one of my super powers: I would do the leg work, create a detailed flow chart, and present a flawless plan to God, explaining how He didn’t have to really do anything except flip the “Yes” switch.
It may come as no surprise to you that life NEVER worked out according to my flow chart or dreams, as described in the original Dancing which you can read here if you are interested.
So I’ve kind of reduced my plan time. It’s not that I don’t have dreams or come up with some pretty wild ideas when I hear about a new small publishing company or when someone new compliments my writing.
Of course I practice due diligence when new opportunities appear on the horizon. Of course I think about what might happen if …
And, when comments are made about the open doors created when I retire from teaching, of course, I wonder if I’ll ever do those really great things God has planned for you, Nancy! I love my cheerleaders for what they believe could be, what they see as possible, and what they hope for me.
I’m a little tired of living like that, though… waiting for that great thing to be revealed. Waiting and praying for a wonderful opportunity perfectly befitting my skills and gifts.
Yes, I will cautiously hope for the right idea to pitch to the right agent or the perfect topic for a self-published, inspiring bit of work that just came to me like a miracle.
I will pray that someday my dream will be fulfilled – to speak publicly about things for which I have passion, like writing or the refugee crisis or the seriously awful price of litmus tests.
I will keep those hopes and dreams alive. Yes I will. I’m still the Little Mary Sunshine Tim married.
But I cannot … I will not live my life waiting to be discovered. Or let myself be discouraged when the “perfect for me” opportunities are scooped up by someone else.
What about the issue of calling? That elusive mystery we all search for with such urgency. Have I really been called by God to write and speak? The way I see it is that God asks us to do human things, using our gifts and talents to further the Kingdom here on Earth. But He calls us to serve Him with everything we do. If you’re interested, I wrote more about that, too.
In fact, I’m convinced we all have the same calling. It’s simple and universal … and unbelievably hard:
To act justlyMicah 6:8
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
In this time in our history when justice, mercy and humility are in pitifully short supply, I’d be hard pressed to find anything better to hope or dream for.