Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Fear of Not Being Holy; Having a Secular Job

I've been stressing over the whole grad school situation for several weeks now. I keep going back and forth for many reasons but mostly because of fear and because I don't know what God's will for me is. In a sense, I am currently pretty aimless and I don't like it.

I've been chatting with many friends about my current situation because that's how I think best: talking and getting feedback. Most friends just listen and say "trust God" (which, no offense, but I am getting tired of hearing because it makes me feel like I'm a horrible person who doesn't already trust God). Some try to "steer me" (which feels a lot like forcing me) to go one way or another. When I vented (sorry!) to Julie about how stressed I was and how I felt pushed by some to pursue what they thought was best for me, she said some things (which will remain between her and I) that made realize something: I think I'm afraid of having a "secular" (read: not in a Catholic atmosphere) job because I think it'll somehow drag me away from God and from my wish to be as holy as possible.

I think this goes back to my time at the CINO college. I was in a "Catholic" place but it might as well been secular with the things that were taught (and not taught). The time between my father's death in 2009 and graduation day last year were some of the lowest points in my spiritual life. I went numb for almost an entire year after my father passed... and then I was surrounded by people who were actively trying to destroy orthodoxy with their heresies and blasphemies. It drove me to want to do something about it but I didn't (and still don't) know how. Teaching was an option... except that speaking in front of crowds makes me feel sick and I don't think I'm quite cut out to teach children that aren't my own as I have a fear of misguiding them with my lack of knowledge.

Since I've returned to the Church, 7 years ago, I've never imagined myself having a "secular" job -- one that wasn't somehow connected to the Church. Teaching was an option I never wanted. Being a Director of Religious Education is an option as well but I don't want that kind of leadership role (trust me, I'm a team-player / behind the scenes kind of gal). There are other options as well but none of them are really feasible for myself and my situation. I have my mother to take care of; her declining health is something that I can't push aside so that I can do what I want. Since she will seemingly retire early, it will be my job to provide for the two of us (especially if I never marry; more on this later). More fear of not being able to survive sets in, though I know God has always managed to get us out of financial scrapes.

And here's the second fear: I fear that if I do Speech-Language Pathology instead of Theology will make me a bad person because I would be choosing a career path that would help us financially and would potentially cut my off spiritually. THAT is where my biggest fear lies. When I first considered doing SLP, I didn't know what the salary was. I saw my good friend having problems finding a speech therapist for her son and it inspired me to look into it. Once money came into the picture, it made me start doubting myself; it made me think that I was doing it for the money and that scared the heck out of me.

Want to know what's been causing me stress the past couple of weeks? You just found out.

All of that has been swirling around in my mind for weeks and then wonderful Julie reminded me that being a speech therapist was a noble career. I love children and I want to help them so why not do it in a way that I best utilizes my gifts? I'm good one-on-one (better than in groups). I apparently have some sort of superhuman patience (lol). Even when I'm at the worst (anxiety, sick, etc), children make me push it all aside and focus on the good. I am reminded of how much I want to help people when I see someone who needs it. Nowhere in this way of thinking (which I had no problem with until the last couple of weeks) does money come into play. Julie helped remind me remember why I had chosen their career path and why I had pushed an MA in Theology aside. I may get it in the future but I am not sure this is the right path for me now... much to the disappointment of many people.

I wonder if the Enemy put this doubt into my mind; that I was doing it for the wrong reasons and that having a good paying job - which is not an easy job; lots of hard work - would somehow make me less holy. I wouldn't put it past him.

One more thing before I end this uber long post (sorry!): I can always find ways to incorporate my faith into my life while having a "secular" job. I still do intend to join a Third Order (the Carmelites are currently in the lead for this one, closely followed by the Dominicans). If I am able to, I do want to return to my daily Mass schedule before work (which I've seen many hospital workers do). If I do get married and have children, I will be able to teach them and pass along my beautiful faith to them. Who knows, maybe when I finally get my time management skills down pat, I could do some volunteer parish work. If people like St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati could chose paths that didn't have them working within a church setting and they still managed to lead holy lives, why can I attempt to do the same?

Anyway, this is all super long and I haven't had a proper lunch (though it is closer to dinner time) so I'm going to see what I can find to munch on while I plan dinner.

I hope y'all are having a good weekend thus far. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless. :D


Anonymous said...

Good stuff Emmy!! Any kind of work can be converted into prayer. :) Food for thought: Here are some of the professions held by some of the women at my local Opus Dei center: Teacher at a secular private elementary school, pathologist, business end of a nursing home, biology researcher. All of them pray daily Mass, Angelus, and Rosary (among other things), and offer spiritual formation and direction. I'm with you no matter what you decide, and I love reading about your journey!

Lauren said...

Interesting post. This sounds a lot like the struggle I went through recently, with looking at what my life would look like next, and a career in the non-profit industry. I want to serve people and help people, and always imagined myself in a career that allowed me to do that on a daily basis, whether through direct service or supporting direct service. I never really imagined not being in that world, and would get quite defensive when people suggested I look into the for-profit world. I decided to take a step back and prioritize what my goals in that career were. I realized that for me, my life goals and career goals were coinciding. I was trying to take my top life goals (to know love and serve Christ; help others know love and serve Christ; recognize Christ in all people and serve them accordingly; make a positive difference in the lives of others and work every day to be the best version of myself) were being confused with my professional goals. When I stepped back and realized that these were the goals of my entire life, and not just my career, it took some pressure off the job hunt as it made me realize that I might not find a job that helps me fulfill all 5 of those on a regular basis, and that was okay. Not sure if this will help you, or how close the situations are but I thought I'd share my experience anyway :) Also - in regards to the Speech Language Pathology job, whose to say that "has" to be a non-Catholic job. Would there be opportunities in your area to work as a speech therapist in a catholic school or with a Catholic organizations? I'm not sure how that works in your area, but thought I'd throw out the suggestion.