Boundaries As You Find Your Life’s Work, What I Learned on My Career Path

"You Rock!" on chalkboard

Life Lesson – Sometimes Father Really Does Know Best

Message as presented by Gail Showalter to the SMORE Class @ Calder Baptist

From Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend:

To find “your life’s work.” you should firmly “establish your identity.” You should “separate yourself from those closest to you when making these decisions.”

This means you take ownership of:

  • How you feel
  • How you think
  • What you want

As you partner with God you can then step out as He leads you.

~~~

 I announced at the dinner table one night after my first high school civics course, “I’ve decided what I want to be when I grow up.”

Dad grinned. “What’s that?” he asked with genuine curiosity.

“Speaker of the House,” I spoke with certainty.

“I thought you already were, ” he teased.

Dad had trouble taking my obsession for speech and theatre seriously. He associated it with the movie industry, which he considered immoral. Theatre had been the center of my life since childhood. I played the lead in every play from the fourth grade through high school. The stage was my second home.

Later as a sophomore in college, living at home after a year away on a drama scholarship, I was earning a degree in theatre at a local university. One evening as I stood at the stove my dad resting in his old brown recliner asked, “What are you planning to do with this degree you’re getting in theatre?” His inflection on ‘theatre’ came out almost like a bit of the chewing tobacco he spat on occasion.

I knew right away what he was thinking.  A degree in theatre will not get you a job. This isn’t practical. His goal for me was clearer than my own. Education should guarantee employment. He had insisted I take typing in high school even though it meant dropping out of band that year.

“I want to go to Dallas and work in the professional theatre there,” I replied not really sure if that was even a possibility.

“As long as I’m paying your tuition you need to get a teaching certificate,” he spoke the words, as a judge would give a final verdict. Not another word was necessary.

The idea of being a high school drama teacher held no appeal for me. I knew most of them taught English along with only a few drama and speech classes. English meant grading papers and studying literature. Trying to make grammar interesting-ugh! Disciplining disrespectful teenagers seemed like a dreadful career option.

I got the teaching certificate with a minor in art, not English, thinking that would be much more fun and I wouldn’t be roped into teaching English. It worked for my first teaching position when they needed a speech and theatre teacher, but after the divorce it was a different story. I had to earn a certificate in English to land a job as a single mom with three children.

I often wondered what would’ve happened if I’d done the work to find a career path that matched my talents more appropriately. Ironically teaching made it possible for me to be at home when children were, through their school years, which made it worth it.

Choices are the stuff from which our lives are designed. If you are sure of yourself—who you are and who you are not, you will make wise career choices. If you are not sure others may influence your choices based on their perceptions of who you are. When you find yourself in a job situation that is less than pleasant, look for ways your talents might be used, if not on the job, in your church or community.

~~~

Even though I did not ‘take ownership’ of my boundaries when selecting a career, I am able to see God’s hand in my life.

I learned:

  • I am a teacher,
  • Talents are transferable, in other words to remain open to other ways to use my gifts,
  • The serendipities and relationships along the way are what really counts, and
  • My Father knows best.

Ultimately I wrote a handbook, Time for Art, which presents ways to use art while teaching children with visual impairments published by The American Printing House for the Blind. I used by speaking and presentation skills as I spoke across the country at education conventions. 

For more of Gail’s articles CLICK HERE. 

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