Well, everyone is heading back real soon, some with heavy hearts and busy schedules, others with great delight and anticipation of something to do. Needless to say, its been a heavy, weird, boring, life-examining time for your poor ol' boy Alex. I have learned a lot from these past 35 days, and it might just resonate with you, so I thought I'd throw it out there.
1. You don't need a college degree to get a job.
"In this town of Barrie, its not what you know, but who you know." That was one of the first things that my new employer told me my first day on the job. Its proven true. Both my previous jobs I've attained through friendships within the church I attended at the time. Sometimes we get caught in the "oh I need good credentials" to get a good position, or job, or career for that matter. Sometimes the people you know, and the people that know you and your values will trump (excuse the reference) over any sort of resume you may have. Take time to get involved in your city, get to know people, attend events, become a part of a group or club that like to do the same things that you do. You never know, it just might be the reference you need for that job.
So work on growing your character, not your portfolio.
2. Education isn't everything.
This goes hand in hand with the first point, and sure, being educated is a wonderful thing. Its a privilege, especially in this country, but its not everything. If it was everything, there would be no cashiers, janitors, snowplow-ers. They are all just as important as a doctor, lawyer, and firefighter are. Some of the nicest people on the planet are the Tim Horton's servers, that send me off with a warm beverage and a "have a great day, sweetie". Did they go to school for it? No. They learned with experience, they learned on the spot. They don't have a master's in mixology (yes, that exists), they have the simple desire to work, provide, and live. Think of all the young people that are being harshly pressured by their parents to become some huge success. Is that maybe even you? Think of all stress it puts on you to "perform" and to maybe even commit to something you'd hate for the rest of your life. Because you need the title, because the money is good, because the comfort is safe. What does all that matter in the eternal perspective?
Look for the things in life that matter most. Maybe you need to find out, what really matters most, or maybe who really matters most in your existence?
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
3. The government doesn't actually care about us.
If you've ever believed in the lie of, "the government has the best of intentions for its people"...please, drop it, now. Clearly, the government does not have the best of intentions for students, for faculty, for the economy, for the country as a whole. If they really believed in their own system, they'd push it all down our throats. Sure they've made strides to help the lower classes get into schooling and I do not deny that those are very nice intentions of course, but these past few weeks have shown, how much they actually care to step in and bring a resolve to all parties and settle things in a kind and orderly manner. They washed their hands like Pontius Pilate did when he wanted nothing to do with the death of Jesus. Atleast the premier of Ontario decided to step in and pass a law so we could all resume the semester somehow. Let alone all the people who have been suffering from stress and anxiety, get no help, get no extra time or attention, and yet all expected to go back to normal on Tuesday, as if nothing ever happened?
Its time to take care of yourself. Take care of yourself first, so you can help take care of others, and no its not selfish, its right.
4. There's so much we can do with our time.
I was amazed at myself for the level of productivity I maintained, and I know you can too! This isn't to brag but to show what we're capable of accomplishing and living out, if only you put a little extra care into your day.
I was able to:
- start reading 2 books
- finish 2 bible reading plans
- design for 3 different clients
- completed 4 online courses for design
- found a job; flexible with school
- apply for scholarships and bursaries
- research future moves
- take care of my grandparents and make connections in another city
- practice drums and guitar daily
- heck, even go to the gym a few times!
And those were just to name a few, there's so much we can be doing with our time...
So why do we waste it?
You know what I'm talking about...a little netflix here, a little going for a joyride there, a little one hour facebook and instagram scrolling and WHOA! Our day is gone, and we wonder how that happens? We wonder why we don't have time for friendship building, or time for reading and meditating on the Word, time for family, time for God. For the things that matter. One of THE BEST books I have ever read and still hold highly to this day, is John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life". If you don't have it, please get it. Read it, download it, rent it, do whatever you have to do to grab a good resource to read.
How you spend your time reveals your true values. Don't waste it.
5. Staying productive and always learning is good for the mind.
I'm the go-getter type, that always wants to stay productive and doing something. Idleness is dangerous and can sometimes lead to some regretful sin patterns. But then the patterns become habits and then the habits become second nature, and then you don't know how you got there and its so hard to break. You forgot to count the cost when you first were idle, when you first were lazy, when you didn't want to pick up the book, or pick up the weights, or pick up the door. Its funny how the last point goes well with this one. Because time is of the essence, its important to use it, not spend it, and what I mean but that is, redeem the enjoyment that it allows us to have, not just give it away. Are you investing it, or wasting it? Waste only takes up space and is hard to get rid of, or in this case, redeem back.
Thats where learning comes in. Yes you may be thinking, "Alex, I thought you said education wasn't everything." And its not...that doesn't mean you can't stop learning your way. Find out the ways you learn. Are you a visual person, do you like mini-courses online? (For me that was Skillshare.com), do you learn by doing, go for a walk, breathe, get involved. Your mind will thank you for it at the end of the day, knowing you learned.
Invest your time, in things above. Eternal perspective. Kingdom moments.
6. It's easy to panic.
I've never called myself depressed. That's one of the easiest things people self-diagnose, because don't know better or because everyone else is doing it. There are more people in Canada that reside with depression than people that do not. I consider myself a joyful person, I've always been that way, ask God why He made me that way.
These 35 days have been something different.
I have never felt such a sense of purposelessness in my life than these past few weeks. Everything was going well, almost done my program, ready to start the next stage of my life, and then this strike dropped like a bomb from outer space. Its as if, "life" gets put on hold, and the world turns a bit slower, and your helpless because your not going anywhere without that degree. Thats what I was telling myself for the first three weeks.
But then God met me at my lowest.
It was one of the worst feelings and yet most beautiful feelings ever. Of letting go of control of my plans and my life, and what I want to do and fulfill and accomplish, and saying. "God, you have my heart, take it all." You see, I was panicking because, I thought this graphic design gig, was going to be my life, its my future, my means of providing for my family first, and then a family of my own one day, my way to "make it through life". But time and time again, God comes in and like a tender Shepherd holds me and says, "this is not you my son, I have something else for you." See we get so caught up in our minds of "THE PLAN" , you know the one I'm talking about. The one you get taught in Grade 10 Careers, where your supposed to plan all the way till the day you die basically, like you even know the casket and cemetery where you'll be buried, (yea thats a thing too, kinda morbid).
The deadly disease of this western society is to have it all planned out and follow right to the plan because "it works."
And what happens when it doesn't happen? We get disappointed, we get upset, we fall into depression, because its not going the way we anticipated. And yet we have Proverbs 3:5-6 tattooed on our arms as a reminder of trusting in the Lord and leading our paths straight. You ever wonder why you need trust in the Lord? You every wonder why you need to let God lead your paths straight? Well first of all because of how sinful we are, and that our hearts are deceptive above all else. But more so, because ONLY GOD knows our lives from start to finish, and He nevers tells us how its going to happen. You see we can plan all we want, but it'll never go the way we plan. Thats why we need to trust and sing, "wholly lean on Jesus' name", because our plans fail and we need hold it with open hands, and submit it to the will of the Father.
Don't panic, trust.
7. People value things more than they value other people.
If your a follower of Jesus Christ, one day you believe you will be spending eternity with Him, your Maker, your Creator, your Saviour, not the mansions He has for us, or the streets of gold. So why do we act so differently here on Earth? Why do people strive after THINGS of this life to fulfill them? College? Money? Position? Prosperity? Comfort? A happy life? Title? Name? Fame? Cars? Girls? Guys? Stop your striving. Its all for the wrong things.
I've been listening to a lot of Tenth Avenue North lately, reminded of their old album, specifically the song, "By Your Side" some of the most thought-provoking lyrics:
Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face, just don't turn away
Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?
To where will you go child?
Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?
The great command we have as followers, is to share the SAME good news that brought us to life. Its people, its the neighbour across the street, its the person serving you coffee, its the beggar on the corner, its the teacher.
Stop striving for riches in this life, wait for you glory in the next.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
8. There isn't an answer to every life question. At least I don't have them all.
I think this is one of those small periods in life where 20 years down the road, you'll look back and either you'll see like "oh thats why that happened" or "it wasn't really anything big" just like a little bleep in the map of life. Why do people strike? They want money? I don't know every single faculty member's intentions, although as a collective they fought for more full-time positions and a safe and secure rest of their lives. We don't even know whats in store for tomorrow. Life in today, but live it well.
Trust the process. Trust your Maker. He cares for you. He's got the answers. Don't waste your time, its not even yours.