Photo by Grant MacDonald (Creative Commons)
For today’s guest post I am honored to feature my friend Chad Jones. Chad is a Pennsylvanian transplanted to the sere vistas of Arizona, where he lives with his wife, and two kids. Though he works professionally in IT, he’s always loved to write, and plans to continue doing so until God calls him home. He blogs here, you can follow him on Twitter @randomlychad and he would be most gratified if you’d like his Facebook page.
I was thrilled when Jim asked me to guest post. We have many of the same ideas with regards to the intersection of the creative life with the workaday world. If you’ve been around here awhile, you know of Jim’s nervous breakdown, and how he found Jon Acuff’s Quitter Conference at just the right time. I won’t here rehash any of his excellent posts regarding that time.
Jim’s story resonates with me. I could be that guy, the one having the nervous breakdown. In fact, some years ago I fell into depression (this story is told in my essay in Not Alone: Stories of Living With Depression). Health issues—hypothyroidism, sleep apnea—along with the rejection of a creative project I’d spent months on, combined into a perfect storm that sent me reeling.
Unfortunately, I stopped writing anything for a couple of years, and found solace in things I thought l was free from. Rather than go into any particular detail here, let’s just say I returned to a besetting sin. Despite knowing better. I think we’ve all been there.
Fortunately, I have a wife who, like Jesus, loved me enough not to leave me be.
I found help in Celebrate Recovery. Which helped bring balance to my life. These things, this sin, long since thought handled, once laid bare upon that table—in the presence of likewise-struggling men—brought me much freedom.
And with freedom, I found my voice again. Which is a good thing, because as astute students of Scripture we know it’s not enough to merely eliminate a negative (sin), but to consciously fill that void. Else seven others return with the first, bringing ruin to that house.
So I found my voice, and returned to writing. Which made possible the connections that led to me being included in the Not Alone anthology.
I had always dreamed of being published-but never thought it would entail an account of depression. But God—being God—did it His way. He subverted my hopes, and did something that I hope blesses a multitude.
Which brings me to today: did having a publication credit change my life? Yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that I can claim that I’m published, achieved a life goal, and no, in that I’m still—quite honestly—the same guy. Having my name and story, in that book doesn’t matter one iota to my children, as they still see a man who struggles to engage with them. A man who often locks himself away.
And a lot of that involves my day job, where I likewise struggle to remain engaged. Because while meaningful in one sense, it is all the same–day after day after day. They blur together. While I am lauded for my work, and indeed skilled, it’s not what makes me feel alive. It’s this right here—that does, this conjuring of words from the ether. When the words are flowing, I lose all sense of time.
Thing is, I struggle to find the balance between my creative side, and my workaday responsibilities. I find myself disengaging from what I’m supposed to do, to do what I —need and was born—to do. It’s a tension I’m living in now, trying to balance the two. I don’t have any answers yet, though—just the striving.
But I have learned that what Jon Acuff says in Quitter is true: one can’t spend the workday disengaged and not expect that to spill over to one’s home life. Because there isn’t any more than just one “me,” you see? There isn’t “work me,” “creative me,” or “home me.” There’s just me, and what touches me in one area has spillover effects into others.
It’s a puzzle I’m trying to solve, because I have a good job that provides for me and my family (for which I’m very thankful), but it doesn’t make me feel alive inside the way writing does.
But as the old saying goes, “There’s no money in books.”
So I watch–and wait. Trying to find balance in competing areas, trying to harmonize a tension that always wants to be just a little off-key. Each day I strive to be faithful over the little things, so one day I can be made faithful over much.
The late Charles Williams once said “The altar must often be built in one place in order that the fire from heaven may descend somewhere else.” To me, this means it’s my job to be faithful. It means that God knows, He sees, that my fidelity has implications I can’t see.
What are you doing to find your calling? How do you balance that with what you have to do?