Who Am I?
And does it matter?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a “writer”. I was prolific in stories about orphans, especially stories that also involved farms. My 2nd grade teacher saw how passionate I was to write and entered me into a writing contest, where I won 3rd place. (And 10 whole dollars. That was like 2 months of allowance.)
At age 12, I went through a strange searching time in my life, which I will be sure to share about soon. God shook up my assumptions about Himself and Christianity and led me to look for answers myself straight out of His Word. What was birthed out of that era was a love of theology that never disappeared.
Around the same age, it occurred to me that clothes are awesome. The commencement of this was a trip to Target when my mom bought me 3 gorgeous striped shirts and a pair of tan corduroy overall shorts from the Xhilaration brand. I loved those clothes like nobody’s business and wore them pretty much every day for the next year.
I was a very visual kid and a lover of beauty from the get-go. I would sew together little outfits for my American Girl dolls, redecorate the bedroom I shared with my sister for the umpteenth time, and create oil paint renditions of Thomas Kinkade’s stunning work.
Latina at Heart
As a young teen, I went to Mexico on a missions trip with my church. This trip opened the heavy doors of my insecure little heart to let people in – well, one group of people – Mexicans. For a long time, I felt more emotionally safe with Latinos than with my own caucasian race. When I was in Mexico, I could be myself. As time went on, I grew to deeply love the fascinating spectrum of Latin cultures.
In college, I struggled with disordered eating and entered therapy. At that time in my life, I knew how to think, but not how to feel. God used these experiences to open me up to the world of self-reflectiveness and psychology.
I share all this to say, I think our personality and gifting often shows up in childhood and continues as we explore the world. So what? Does it really matter who we are or where our gifting lies? I’m starting to realize, maybe it does.
Enslaved to the Need for Money
I’ve had this burden on my chest for the past 4 years (since grad school) of paying off student loans and getting out of debt. I want to pay off those stupid loans to be free. And to be able to actually spend some of our income on things we enjoy. And to be able to get out of our teensy weensy little rental property into a home of our own. And most of all, to be able to afford to have a baby. It’s not that I want some lavish lifestyle with a mansion and designer clothes. I just want to be able to do what my parents did: buy a house and have kids. Is that too much to ask???
Our Parents vs. Us
This economy is rough, and I think what makes it especially rough for those of us in our 20’s and 30’s is the insane increase in student loans in our culture. Studentloanhero claims that Americans now have 1.28 trillion in student loan debt. Many of our parents went to college with minimal debt, if any, then entered their career field, saved for a few years, and bought a house. For those of us in 2-parent homes, sometimes one of our parents stayed home and looked after the household while the other parent was the breadwinner. Nowadays, at least in California, rarely can a family subsist on only one income. *Sigh.* Our parents’ day seemed so much simpler.
I’m not saying I don’t want to work – I actually love working. I’m just saying it seems nuts to be married, both spouses working pretty full-time, and not even be able to start at zero financially speaking.
For the past 4-5 years, I’ve been working in my beloved field of psychology. And it’s been successful in a limited way, but we certainly haven’t been tearing through those loans like I envisioned.
Maybe I Should Be…Something Else
The thing is, I’m one of those people who could probably learn just about any profession (that doesn’t involve physical strength or stand-up comedy or talking like an auctioneer) and be reasonably ok at it. Not saying I’d be great or flourish in just any field, but I could probably learn the ropes and make a paycheck. So I started thinking, maybe I should do something different, just for the money. I adore psychology, but if I became a nurse or an ultrasound tech or a web developer I could certainly make more than I’m making now.
So there’s the rub. There come times in life when we have to make that decision between working a job for the money, or working a career because we’re gifted in it and it ignites our passions.
I think each situation is unique and requires contemplation and prayer. I don’t want to prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution. I just want to tell my own, very humble, very personal story.
The Night that Changed It All
One day recently, the discouragement came flooding over me in waves. We were paying our bills with nothing left over. It weighed on me and I didn’t know what to do. It seemed like all my efforts were just amounting to banging my head against the wall. So when Nick got home after work, we sat down and had a heart-to-heart.
This is where I have to say how great it is to have a husband who loves Jesus. Nick and I have conversed about finances a plethora of times, sometimes with tension in the air. But on this particular evening, Nick looked at the ground and said calmly, “Babe, if I let myself, I can let finances overwhelm me in an unhealthy way to the point where they completely burden me. I know getting out of debt would give us a lot of opportunities. But there’s only so much we can do. The way I look at it, we should first and foremost work on the things that God has called us to. I’m trusting that in time, God will bless that and we will be able to pay off our loans.”
I’ll be honest, sometimes Nick’s calm approach to finances irritates me. I’m the kind of person who thinks that if you want something, you should go out and get it. But there was something about his words that felt right, like it brought peace to the places in me where there had been chaos, like…the Holy Spirit.
Maybe doing professional acrobatics just to pay off our student loans faster isn’t what God has for me. Maybe He just wants me to be who He’s created me to be: the artistic, spiritually-sensitive soul-searcher who loves words almost as much as she loves Latin culture. And maybe if I live out of that, I can let go of my fears of being 32 and not having a baby. Maybe I can trust that I don’t have to white-knuckle everything because God knows my needs and is at work in my life.
Maybe I Should Be…Me
In the weeks since that evening, I’ve gained direction and clarity for the future. And it doesn’t include a dramatic career change or using a metal detector to find quarters on the beach. It does involve a lot of self development and some intentional relationships within my field.
Once I heard Dave Ramsey say something like this: “Find what you would be doing with your life if money were no object. Then figure out how to make money doing it.” Essentially, that’s the life that I’m in the process of creating. I’ll tell you what, work doesn’t feel like work anymore. And our student loans? They still matter to me, but not as idols.
Actually, this attitude shift is the reason I decided to start blogging again! The process of crafting my thoughts into words, and then sharing them with the world, just makes my heart sing. I’ve discovered that developing a blog readership doesn’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t matter to me anymore. I’m writing for you, whoever you are, reading this post right now. Even if you’re the only one reading it. Because in doing so, I’m being who God created me to be.