Once, a long time ago, I had a job at the library at Geneva College. God’s hand was ABSOLUTELY in the inception and continuation of this employment opportunity. And now I look back. . .
Inception: I moved to Beaver Falls Pennsylvania to earn my graduate degree in counseling. This was a BIG step into my future. At 16 years old, I said that being a counselor was what I wanted to do. Fast forward 20 years. Still considering, fighting lies and NOT seeing the skies part, the sun shining down or hearing the audible voice of God. Yet my heart was irrepressibly drawn to act on it’s desire. And doors kept opening. So I came.
After getting adjusted to my first semester and having a very sparse nanny-ing job I thought it was time to look for work that would pay (at least some of) my expenses. I started praying about this seriously and I got a phone call from the admission counselor in my program. She said she just heard about a graduate assistant opening at the library on campus. She said, “Take action right now!” I did. And within a week I was hired!
At the time, this absolutely seemed like a match made in heaven. I consider books art. And I consider good art a vehicle that God uses to express truth. One that short-circuits our defensive logic. Then it speaks truth and healing.
I have experienced it. So I believe it. My perspective lends itself to feeling romantically towards libraries. Art, truth, healing, learning and empowering ourselves to act in a broken world. . . all in one building. . .where like-minded people come together. . . Sigh. . .
Continuation: Then school was really hard. The fall semester of my second year was approaching. In which my library job would shift from being mornings 15 hours a week to 20 hours a week 8-midnight shift. I was taking a full course load of graduate classes (4) and working 15 hours a week at the counseling center on campus. This would make for 3, 12-14 hour days in my week. Going to bed at 1 am and counseling students at 9 am the next morning. I knew I couldn’t do it. So I asked the library what would happen if it was too much for me. Could someone else take one of the nights? No. In fact, if I anticipated this, would I please decline the job so that someone else could do all of it?
Enter praying, praying, praying and seeking wisdom. Again, I didn’t feel like I heard strongly from God. No angels singing. No audible voice. But maybe somewhere deep down a, “It’s going to be okay.” And it seemed wise to have a paying job. So, with trepidation, I let the library know I wanted to stay. With no cushion. I NEEDED to do it, EVERY night.
Enter the midnight shift. There I was, having these days where I doubted that I could string together a complete sentence. Where I was anxious over how far I was behind on my school work, where I had no time to reflect on what happened in my day before engaging the next thing. I was exhausted! Heavy footed, I clomped over the the library. And tried. Many of those nights I was tense. But probably more often I got slap-happy or curious about someone’s research, or desiring to lend a sympathetic ear, or to pray, or to give them prizes or to cheer them on. So I did. And this became my zone. To just use this time to REALLY care about the students. To love. To give.
This is the first year that my heart was full on mother’s day. I had more kids than anyone that I knew! And I loved them pretty well.
Fast forward 2 semesters and 4 months. Graduation past, degree completed. 40 hour a week counseling job.
And the students came back to campus! I invited them over for a party at my house, longing to hear their stories from the summer. Longing to hug them. But it was a little bit vulnerable for me, because I was just a library worker. Would they want to come over and visit, sacrifice their time? Time together, not a happy accident, but on purpose?
They did! And it filled a place in my heart. All that time, all those months where I was barely making it, sucking wind, but wanting to care and caring. All that time, THEY were caring back. They were loving back. And I was loved. In their listening, sharing in my joy, accepting small gifts, and coming along for wild research rides! These, each of these, was (unrecognized) love.
And it washed over me, the sense of God’s goodness in this thing. This thing. The anticipation of which made my stomach knot and my anxiety spike. This thing with all of its impossibility. The thing that God went before me in. Where he spoke life into my days through students. Through being loved back. Whether I knew it or not.
God bless us with eyes to see, presence to soak these moments in, and memory to celebrate these times– the loved back ones!