Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So, What Do You Do? Reflections of a Stay at Home Dad

The emphasis is on the word "you."  What do you do?  Loathing, yea, hating this question has been the bane of my experience for over ten years since graduating seminary (something I could have done much, much better--different story, but if I were God, I'd make me do a number of classes over again).

It usually comes during dinner parties, or at campfire gatherings, and or wherever people gather together to eat, drink, talk and exist.  Common quips come along from those secure in their vocations (or is it a "job" or a "calling"?  Still haven't figured that one out) who don't identify their work with their person hood such as "Oh, I fish, hunt, grill, I'm a dad, I'm a husband, I work with wood...er, I mean, I have a wood shop."  Haha funny.  So what do you do really?

Usually dudes who are "in the know" that our jobs don't equate who we are as persons respond with such qualifiers.  Or, a normal guy says, "I'm a doctor.  I'm an accountant.  I'm a teacher.  I'm a writer.  Etc." Those who answer in the latter form are usually secure in their work and person hood. 

For me, I can't exactly do that.  And that's because the question, "So, what do you do?" strikes at that insecurity still bound up within my psyche created many years ago and maintained by itself, as if it has its own ontological status, and can miraculously feed upon itself, or upon life. 

A little background: I've never had a job for over three years.  I graduated high school in 1990 and went to college in Kalamazoo, majoring in existentialism (read: partying).  I did very well at this.  Now, while my friends were graduating from college and getting jobs as journalists, engineers and so on, I was "getting my life right" with God, and had become a Jesus-follower, which I still am today.  In fact, so much was the turnaround in my life due to following Jesus, that my mind began to crave and thirst for knowledge like it never had (and some people say Christians are anti-intellectual.  Hey--even I say that!).  This thirst for knowledge of the gospel and why it was true led me to go back to college and major in Literature--hardly a marketable degree, though I know some Lit. majors who do well (Beth, Chris and Dirk, you know who you are!).  After that, I went to seminary to learn the original languages of the Bible because I had to.  I had to know the thousand questions I had looming in my head about what I believed about the Bible and why.  The education was not without its rewards, but as far as making some dough, or getting a steady job, well--that's been a rough punch.

So, what do I do?  I've answered that question in a ton of ways over the last ten years since graduating: factory worker, operating molding machines.  Chaplain at a homeless shelter (did not like it).  Loan officer (if you can call it that at a sub-prime lender.  Read those "kill me now, God" stories here).  After that, my wife and I moved to NC with our then 2 small children, so she could go to pharmacy school, and I worked at a Christian school, which, how shall I say?  I fidn't dit...at...all....   "Chris, rumor has it that you're a Calvinist.  And we can't have a Calvinist teaching theology here."  'Course, I did yell at that student that one time.  He deserved it, the little punk!  Lastly, I worked in a warehouse operating a machine again.

There's nothing quite like the feeling you get while thinking of where to apply for a job when you have a seminary degree.  A master of what?  Divinity.  What's that?  Oh, it's...

And if you're really insecure, you can tell them about the really fancy-sounding classes you had like hermeneutics, and that you did an independent study on epistemology.  Episte-what? It's the theory of knowledge.  And if you're really really insecure, you can say it was your "thesis."  Ah hah.  Eyes roll, tongue-clicking.  

I had the pleasure of having an old "friend" ask me numerous rhetorical questions about where I was living (renting from my in-laws, whether I was still working at the warehouse, and so on).  He told me that if he were me, he'd get off his ass and get a real job and provide for his family.  Thanks, dude--I'm doing what I can. 

Oh, lastly, I was also a pastoral assistant at a small, country church.  Though I was loved by many I was "let go."  It was either the liberal, female minister, or me (a conservative).  Not both of us.  Her words.  (Though, she was the best Christian I have ever worked for, up to that time). 

Well, the weenies are roasting and it's time to make s'mores.  Do you want me to just get to the point and answer your question about what I do, or should I keep going?  (Would you like to shoot him now, or wait to you get home?  Shout him now!  Shoot him now!).

Ok.  So...I have a sales job--part-time--with the same company I used to work in the warehouse for.  I also teach a couple of classes, one as a facilitator for a campus apologetics ministry called Ratio Christi.  I haven't made a dime yet on either of those endeavors, though I'm told I have my name on a few accounts at the warehouse place, and I'm in lieu of raising support as a campus minister with Ratio.  I co-teach my children as a homeschooler, and I write here and there.  I'm editing a commentary on Matthew 24 written by a one Dee Dee Warren of the Preterist Podcast (good stuff--but if you teach at a Christian school in the South, don't let them know you are a Preterist.  Or a Calvinist).  Yeah, I've done some interesting things, like been to Ethiopia to help widows and orphans in HIV/AIDS crisis.  But what can I do?  I'm here, and they are there, and I have 3 children at home.

So, what do I do for work?  Nothing and everything all at the same time.

I recently read an article in Christianity Today about an oil boom town in North Dakota.  Some dude with an associate's in diesel something or another makes 10k a month there.  Should I do that?  Nah.

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