I can’t remember where I put it, but it is still in my possession – a short essay I wrote in junior high. It was entitled The Therapy of Work. I started working at a very early age. At 5 I was helping herd our dairy cattle into the grazing pasture across the highway that ran in front of our house. One Saturday morning my Dad needed someone to drive the tractor that pulled the hay wagon while he and workers loaded the bales. Now most 5 year old boys would love such an opportunity, but I was less than happy as he had taken me away from my favorite cartoons.
By junior high I had worked in my grandmother’s retail store and was operating a lawn care business in our neighborhood. I had learned to enjoy work.
Then came my mid-twenties: From the age of 24 to about age 31 my work life was nomadic confusion. During this time I developed what I would later call a misguided self-comfort. I told myself that all work was a curse – thanks to Adam.
In the creation story, Adam was brought into physical existence to be with God. When Adam disobeyed, the trust in the relationship was broken. Original disobedience broke original purpose. Adam still belonged to his Maker, but now he had to live apart from Him outside the Garden. And now Adam would have to toil for his existence.
In my time of struggle in my work I told myself that this was the way it was meant to be – work had been cursed. I was wrong.
The curse was not the work. The curse was not being in the immediate presence and direct relationship for which Adam was made. Just as there is complexity that originates from original disobedience, there is complexity of purpose that originates from original purpose not fulfilled.
There is a contention that states the Maker made just to have company – and leaves humankind right there. To me, this sort of doctrine ignores individuality and oversimplifies and demeans the very individuals God intended through Adam’s choice.
My misguided self-comfort was to embrace work as a curse. But here is what I finally realized: Work was not the curse. And that although I’m in a complex environment, I can find purpose and live with meaning.
Further, I believe God intended direct relationship to be brought to loving reality one individual at a time – through the uniqueness of each creation – not in a pre-stamped form and prescribed manner of action and process. But through experience unique as each individual to each of God’s unique, individual intentions.