Friday, November 14, 2008

the problem with being in love with one's work

What a week. I've been running in place non-stop, with the exception of a break over breakfast with BC this morning, and I feel like I've accomplished very little. Too much on my plate.

Moreover, and moreover again, I'm starting to feel some serious anxiety about my work. It's secure, which is more than can be said for the jobs of many. But I'm starting to think I should get out, while the getting is good. Not because I'm in imminent danger -- at least not in the same sense as my previous job, and in fact, it's more the opposite. I'm in over my head with love for the place, on multiple levels, and I think this will wind up being a source of hurt for me.

I've been at the church three years, during which time it's been non-stop change, most of it good. I've put myself at the center of the operation, and I've put the church at my center as well, so much so that my physical and emotional commitment to the place is feeling more and more like a liability. Too much potential for heartbreak. Too many ways to wind up disappointed. A commitment that is extraordinarily meaningful to me -- but I'm afraid, because what I'm commited to in the organizational sense will in the end remain defined by the tones of the times and the people in leadership -- there's no emotional safety in that. And perhaps I'm overcommitted, perhaps the relative vocational importance of my position means that I am giving much too much to the church, and to those I work for, and in the end there's no avoiding a certain lack of parity. Their reliance on me (which is considerable) isn't blind - they show their appreciation. But the church, the other staff, my boss, my friends there -- none of that will add up to the level of emotional commitment and attachment I'm at -- and that's nobody's fault but mine. If anything changes, if my boss decides to leave or the congregation suffers some serious setback or the finances become an issue (as they may well, and soon), I am going to get hurt. Something will happen to crack this love affair in two, I just know it. There are some major uncertainties affecting the church now, more than we thought there could be at this stage of growth. I'm worried.

So I lay in bed and cry at nearly-three in the morning, thinking I should start looking for a job, and wondering too if CW could somehow get my job and be able to stay in town instead of moving home indefinitely. Wondering if they'd hire her, if she'd take it. Of course, if all that happened I would have to back away from the church to some significant degree as a member too, at least for a while -- because of my role there, and because I'm too much associated with that role, and because it would be hard not to want to stay in the middle of things. It's a little like the urge to leave a romantic relationship, when you realize that you've put so much at stake that the only way to be safe is to break up before the other person leaves you -- not that they seem to want to, but you never know. You never know when the trap door will open.

It's cowardly of me, but I don't want to be the one standing there with a silly look on my face when, inevitably, something happens that will remind me of the fact that I'm alone in this -- that no one in the church is charged with making sure this job doesn't break my heart except for me.


Anonymous said...

what is the real fear you are struggling with? The fear of being hurt by the place isn't the issue - it's the distraction. Perhaps it is the realization that you are important there that scares you?

Liking a job that you do well at isn't a reason to run, it's a reason to stay. You are a good person and they are lucky to have you.

Plus, your value as a human being doesn't depend on what does or doesn't happen there. Your value is because of who you are, so if they fall apart or things change or Craig leaves, that doesn't take away from the fact that you are a good person. Period.

Jennifer S. said...

Hi Anonymous, Thanks for this. I enjoy reading comments, and appreciate the perspective, which rings true in some ways. You know, If you're to starting spelling out the names of people I'm referring to on my blog, maybe you should sign your own name too, hmm? :-)

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should, but then it would take the fun out of it :-)