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Monday, January 12, 2009

Which reward are you seeking?

I gave notice at my tax job today. As of April 15th, I will officially be out of the tax business. It was the hardest thing I've done in a long time.

In previous blogs, I've alluded to the fact that I'm making changes to prioritize my life. This is the change I was talking about. I needed to wait for the right timing to give notice, and didn't want to tell the world until I'd done it.

See, as I explained to my boss, quitting my job was not one of those "I hate this job, good riddance" deals that most job changes tend to be. For me, it was giving up a job that I absolutely love. Yes, I love my job. I love connecting with people and making a positive change in their lives. Today, I found out that one of my clients got a divorce this past year and I wanted to cry because they're such special people and I care about them. I find tax law fascinating. I love empowering people with knowledge so that they don't fear the IRS but understand how to follow the law and get the maximum benefit the law entitles them to.


Last year, God and I had a long series of conversations of His plans for me. Of what my real purpose in this life is.

I started my tax job because my husband had been laid off and had no prospects of another job for a long time. We had a family to support. And even though I was quite content in my role as SAHM, I needed to go to work so we could eat and pay our mortgage. Those were really tough times. Honestly, we survived because of miracles, small jobs here and there, and going into a lot of debt that we're still paying off. Our income now is embarrassingly high. Truly, I am ashamed of how much money we make and how little we have to show for it. Granted, much of it goes toward paying off the debt from the lean times: when we had little money to live off of, and when several business ventures did not work out, mostly because we trusted the wrong people.

But you know what? We do not NEED the money I am making at my tax job. Yes, the extras are nice. I like having the freedom to buy stuff because I want it. Do I need the stuff? Nope.

When God and I chatted about my purpose, He revealed a couple of important things to me. Number one, I am a wife and mother. That is such an important calling. And yet, because of all the work I do, I don't have time to be the kind of wife and mother my family needs me to be. Number two, I am a writer. Even if I never sell a book or reach bestselling status, I will always write. I will always tell stories. I will always have something to say. That's who I am. And again, I don't get to spend nearly the time on it that I'd like. So why am I taking my time and energy from those two things? For money we don't really need? Because it makes me feel good to get the constant praise, rewards, and acclaim I get at my job?

I feel good about my job because I get a lot of good strokes. A lot of good rewards. Praise. Acclaim. Promotions. Money. Bonuses. Titles. Yes, those things are good. But of what value are they when my husband and children aren't getting the attention they need? When I can't focus on writing the stories that make my soul sing? I might feel good, but I'm missing out on the most important things in my life. Even though I love my job, the rewards I get from that job, while they give me immediate satisfaction, do not last.

Matthew 6 talks about the difference between earthly rewards and heavenly rewards. All the outward praise and acclaim we get from others is our reward, paid in full. All the treasures we gain here on earth will fade away and will not be here for us to enjoy. Yes, we need money to pay the bills, but sometimes those bills add up to a lot of things we don't really need. We can't serve both God and money, and in this country, we do a lot of money serving. We justify it with a lot of talk about what we need, but I have seen how amazingly God provides for our needs when we let Him. He says He will... Matthew 6:33 says "But seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

After living so many years from miracle to miracle, and working so hard to stay afloat, I believe that our family, like so many families in this country, reversed that principle. We started working for the things, thinking that eventually his kingdom would come. Um... no. That's not how the Bible says it works, now does it?

Back when I first made the decision to quit my job in response to the things God was stirring up in my heart, one of the verses that God brought to my attention was James 1:6-8. "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." God kept telling me I was a double-minded man. I strayed from the purpose God gave me because I started relying on myself to provide for our needs. Not just financially, but for the false value it gave me on a personal level. Don't get me wrong, I do believe my job was a much-needed miracle that God provided.

But now, the time is over. And God is asking me to trust Him, in a time of economic uncertainty for our country, a time when peope would love to be making what I'm making, and to give it all up. He's asking me to find value in the often thankless task of butt-wiping, homework supervising, and being the bad guy. Am I willing to give up the earthly reward and seek Him?

Please don't think that by my "I'm so empowered by God" post that I have this figured out. I'll admit, it was hard not to cave when my bosses offered me alternatives and more money to stay. Trust me, I'll spend the next four months hearing about more incentives they can think up. And then there's going to be the immediate gratification of clients whose lives I impact that's going to have me wishing I could stay, particularly on the days when I'm leaving the house to "You're such a mean mom for making me do my homework/clean my room/not watch shows that are bad/etc." I'm a human being, and those human rewards feel so good at times.

These next few months, I'm going to have to cling harder than ever to the hope that God has given me, and to continue to trust that His plan is so much better for me than my own, even if my own seems to feel good at the time. I've never tried drugs, but I understand they feel good at the time too. I've just never been willing to sacrifice the long term benefit of not frying my brain for the short term bliss of drugs. And I guess, as we look at earthly rewards versus heavenly rewards, it's the same principle.

So keep looking. Keep seeking. Keep holding on to the fact that today's reward isn't going to be nearly as good as what God has planned for us.


Original L said...

Good for you, Danica. I just (and I mean JUST) finished up one of my jobs too. I had done it for 4.5 years and tried to quit last spring but still had to go in a couple of times a week until this week, when I finally wrapped things up. It was not a "big and important" job like yours and I don't have husband or kids, but I needed to focus on my main job and God kept urging me to hurry up and be done. It's weird how hard it can be to walk away even when you want to. Hopefully you'll feel a lot of peace and be looking forward to new things by April 15th!

kalea_kane said...

ROCK ON DANICA! You go girl! I think it is awesome that you are going to walk the path that the Lord has set before you! It is a hard decision, and I know you and your family are going to be so blessed! I dropped down to part time for my husband and my son. I am not at the point where I am going to drop it entirely, because I truly know this is where God wants me to be (we have definitely gone over it). :) I will be praying for you. :)



Jessica Nelson said...

Wow! Go you! I think it's awesome. I was actually just thinking about this today and it felt like God was saying the same thing.
My husband is a realtor and I'm a sahm. These are lean times though and I was thinking, maybe I should get a job. He makes less, but thanks to how God blessed us in the past, we're in an okay place. Not too many extras but most definitely blessed. And I thought (or it must have been God helping me like he did you) what's more important? Raising my kids or making more money we don't need and letting someone else raise them?
I don't really know you, but right now I'm so proud to hear about your decision. How tough and yet so inspiring. Really. I think you're awesome!