Today is my birthday. I’m 31 now. I’m not sure exactly the moment I was born, but my mother tells me that she went into labor as the Geraldo Rivera show started, and I was born before it ended. My 5K time isn’t quite that fast, yet. Mom also tells me that I slept all the way through the night the first night they brought me home. I still have a lot of promising talent when it comes to sleeping.
My 30th year was an eventful one. In August of 2009, my wife and I packed up our home in Oklahoma City and moved to North Carolina. She had graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Ph.D. in Microbiology, and she accepted a position as a Post-Doc at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. We moved to Durham. South Durham, actually, which looks and feels nothing like the rest of Durham. If you’re from around here you know what I’m talking about. I was working as a Youth Pastor in Oklahoma, and I was pretty sad to leave. But, I love my wife more than I loved my job, so I came along.
For several months I didn’t have a job. I tried to find work in the months before we moved, but the job market a year ago was not exactly the best it’s ever been. I was able to find work teaching test prep for the SAT – a job that I’d had years ago in Oklahoma. I also got a part-time job at the mall working at Express. I folded a lot of clothes. Bought a lot of clothes, too. Eventually I found a church that was looking for a worship leader. We met. They offered me the job. I accepted. We make sweet worship music now. It’s been an awesome experience. The church is young (church plant), and I’d never been involved in a church plant before. Note: Make sure you feel called to be involved in a church plant before you get involved in a church plant. The worship job is part-time, and luckily I was able to secure a great full-time job working as a Research Associate. I quit my job at the mall. Our company does science and math educational research (I was a science major in college). It’s challenging and rewarding work.
I haven’t been home (to Oklahoma) in over a year, and I miss it. I talked to my Mom for a while on the phone the other day, and I think maybe for the first time I realized how far away from home I really am. I’ve never lived this far from where I grew up, and where most of my family lives. We’re going back to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, and I’m really looking forward to it.
About two months ago (June 24), my wife Angela and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. There was not much fanfare. It fell on a Thursday, so we didn’t do anything exciting. Angela was out of town for work that weekend, so we didn’t do anything exciting then, either. It doesn’t matter, I’m still pretty stoked that she thought it would be a good idea to marry me. I married up, by the way.
I think I’m going to celebrate my birthday by doing something I’ve wanted to do for years now: join a Crossfit gym. Even if it’s only a month long membership. There is something about working out with like-minded people toward a similar goal that is inspiring. I can’t wait to work out there – I’m going to participate in the free workout tomorrow – they do one every Saturday. If I like it, I think I’ll sign a one month contract.
So, to recap, here are a few things I’ve learned that I think are important:
- Your job does not define who you are. I have two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. In the last year, I worked for a while folding clothes for minimum wage. Many people find fulfillment in their work, and that’s fine, but what you do does not define who you are. At all. Whatever it is you do, do it to the best of your ability, and take pride in it. But, worry more about relationships than the work you do, because relationships are so much more important.
- When you make important life decisions, check your priorities. I really loved my job in Oklahoma. I really, really love my wife. I didn’t want to leave my job, but I did. This is a simple example that exemplifies a very profound truth. How many stories have you heard of people that come to the end of their life and wish they had lived it differently. Don’t be one of those people.
- Do what you are passionate about. I was a Chemistry and Biology major in college. I worked for a while in biomedical research, but I realized that I was really passionate about ministry and music. I left the research field and took a job as a youth pastor, and when I moved I found a job as a worship leader. Could I make more money in research? Yeah. Would I be as happy? Doubt it. Happiness trumps money.
- Find and become a part of a community. I said it before, and I’ll say at again – relationships are really one of the most important things in life. Find a group of people that will love and support you, and then love and support them back. Be totally self-less. I choose to do this in the community of the local church. I’m also seeking to find this type of community in the realm of fitness. This single truth will bring you more joy and fulfillment in life than probably anything else.