October 12, 2011 by Beth Hess
As I am nearing the end of my year-long journey doing a slow read of The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, I come to Guidepost 9, Cultivating Meaningful Work. It’s a topic the author admits she, too, struggled to work through the web of, but ultimately found that people who live full and authentic lives find time to do what they love — and, perhaps even more telling — love what they do.
I used to wrestle with this a lot. I felt like the rest of my family clearly did meaningful work — my Mom as a teacher of special needs kids; my Dad as a pastor, and now counselor; my sister Karen, a pediatric nurse. And what did I, a journalist and editor, contribute to the world? I made sure things were spelled right… oops, make that spelled correctly. For many years, in fact, it didn’t feel that meaningful. I really enjoyed my job. I was good at it. But a tiny little ugly voice kept telling me it wasn’t important enough to be, well, important.
Isn’t that exactly where Satan wanted me to stay. Thinking only about my near-sighted view of what is meaningful. After some time, however, I realized the following…
* Being a writer and editor was important because it was using the gifts God gave me
* Most of my writing focused on people and THEIR stories, and as Brown says, “Telling your story is the most courageous thing you can do.”
* I helped put out a magazine for business owners who were following THEIR meaningful work. So if my information could help guide them on the path, my work was meaningful, too.
* I was providing for my family with work I really enjoyed. That matters.
* I had the opportunity to meet people who shaped me in ways far beyond the nuts and bolts of editing and publishing. People who are still my friends. People who still challenge me personally, focus me spiritually, and love me unconditionally. What could be more meaningful than that?
I guess what I have learned (and keep learning as God has set me on a different career path for this part of my journey) is that doing meaningful work is not about having to change the work; maybe it’s just about changing the meaning of “meaningful.”