What role has WORK played in your life?

Work. Let’s chat about it.

Rather than come at you with more original thoughts, I wanted to hit you with some powerful words spoken at a service my husband and I attended over Labor Day weekend.

It began with a simple but fierce question:

What role has WORK played in your life?

 I’ll shorten the whole presentation down to the essential message that reminded me of the journey I started a year ago:

In our time and culture, work often takes on an oversized and outsized significance in the balance of our life. For many of us, work has taken on an oversized role in our lives because we identify so closely with it. Our work determines so much of our significance and meaning, our worthiness in this time and culture.

Think about your work, paid or unpaid.  What role does your work play in your life, and in the life of the community? Does your work feel significant – do you count on your work to make you feel significant? Does your work enhance your life or suck the life out of you? Are you valued for the work you do?

I would so LOVE to have a conversation with anyone who is grappling with these questions. You can email me privately at smschottler@gmail.com or comment publicly below. This is an important conversation to be had.

Here’s my own story on this subject.

After getting laid off, I became painfully aware of the LARGE role I had allowed work to play in the larger balance of my life. I lost friendships over it. I put off starting a family for it. I lost track of my faith. I lost track of my family. I lost track of causes & people I cared deeply about. I let it determine my self-worth and my SIGNIFICANCE in the world. Getting laid off was a gentle splash of lukewarm water reminding me of what really mattered. Having five young people all the way from work acquaintances to my husband’s dear friend die unexpectedly in a 6-month period of time was the freaking FIRE HOSE blasting me with ice cold water. These were living, breathing beings whose lives were over in an instant. It took losing them to finally show me that work was not all that mattered. It’s what drove me to finally create change for myself. To start living a life in line with my values that was well balanced before it was too late.

I wouldn’t be so blissfully happy where I am now had I not grappled with these questions. I wouldn’t be coaching & supporting women through life. I wouldn’t be a foster mom to Big Girl T. I wouldn’t be working on an innovative approach to breaking the cycle of poverty in North Minneapolis for single moms. I wouldn’t be honoring my friends and family on the daily and building new, deeper bonds with them if I never got real about this question.

I invite you to grapple with these questions and make changes in your own life. My wish for you is the prayer that we shared together at the service…

May you know sufficient rest, and freedom from want and worry.

May you know your true inherent value in this community.

May your days be filled with peace and with purpose.

You have a great deal to share with us.

AMEN! I now feel every single one of these wishes on the daily. And you can too–these aren’t reserved for someone else. These are available to you!

Know that I genuinely love you all no matter what you do, who you work with, where you work, how much you get paid, what your job title is, or any of that other bull-cocky. Your worth is far beyond any of those descriptors. I treasure you on this day for WHO YOU ARE. Not what you do.

–Excerpts from 9am Mass @ St. Joan of Arc Parish on September 3, 2017. Written and spoken by Julie Madden, Peace and Justice Ministry Director and Cynthia Bailey Manns, Adult Learning Director.



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