By Matthew Piling
Working two jobs has often left me feeling trapped. Having the income that we have needed has always been a blessing and I know that there are several people out there who would be grateful for a consistent source of income. But, after putting in over 80 hours every week, there is little time or energy to dedicate to anything else. And there is so much ‘else’ that I feel the need to put time and energy into! The conundrum of feeling the need to do more important things than what I do at work, but needing to do the work to be able to afford the resources needed for all of the things I intend to do is perplexing.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work smarter, not harder—to find or develop some way of creating greater value in less time, thereby earning a greater income. In my mind, that greater income would then allow me to work less and still meet our needs, affording me more time to spend on more important things than work.
The theory is sound, but the reality never seems to match the theory. Over the years, I have earned pay increases and found better job opportunities. But, the extra income has never solved the problem. In fact, increased income has often tempted me to put in extra hours at work to earn even more money to pour into my plan of ‘buying my freedom’. But, the physical and emotional costs of the extra hours or of the increased responsibilities and duties that always come with new jobs always counterbalance any gains made. I find myself too tired or too distracted to use any extra time gained for any of my intended purposes. While it is not requisite that man should run faster than he has strength, I constantly wish I could run just a little farther.
One night, during some downtime at work, I sat stewing in my negativity. I was a victim of my circumstances. I needed to work because I have chosen to provide at a certain level for my family. But, the efforts needed to sustain that ´noble endeavor´ were getting in the way of doing the even greater things that I have felt called to do. I would never be able to get out of this cycle because the cards were stacked against me and there was nothing I could do about it. I knew that such thinking was giving away all of my power, but I really didn’t know what to do to remedy the situation. I was stuck.
Frustrated, I decided to pull out my journal and start sorting through my thoughts. As I wrote, a very specific realization came to me—not only was I causing and perpetuating my current situation with my way of thinking about it, I was doing so as a means of protecting myself.
Our brains are wired to protect us from any perceived threats or pains. They don’t always explain to us what they are protecting us from or how the actions that we default to actually prevent or soften the blows. But, they have a reason for everything that they drive us to do. And, if we will be more intentionally inquisitive, we can discover why we default to the habits that we do and we can proactively replace them with more effective strategies.
In this case, a fair bit of soul searching helped me realize that I was holding on to my two jobs to protect myself from having to grow. If I kept myself so tired and worn out doing something good like providing for my family, I wouldn’t have to go through the pain of confronting certain personal demons that prevented me from doing the great things that I am meant to do and no one would question it. In fact, people would even praise me for it (“Wow, I can’t believe that you work so hard to provide for your family! That is so noble of you!”). I was justified in my martyr’s attitude, but it kept me even more cornered at the same time.
What a frustrating realization!!! My horrible, draining, non-forgiving schedule was a purposeful creature of my own making. I was causing my own problem and there was no one else I could blame.
Making that realization has been so liberating. Understanding why I was where I was and realizing that I had full control over my situation has allowed me to re-evaluate all sorts of things. I’m still in the process of adapting and adjusting, but I’m more on the path towards fulfilling my purpose than I’ve ever been and it is exhilarating. I’ve gone from dreading my jobs to seeing them as the fuel for my dreams. Don’t get me wrong—I still want to quit and will do so at the right moment, but I am no longer trapped.
Whatever effects you are experiencing in your life are being caused by something. And, as co-creators with God, we have to acknowledge that we are the cause. If we don’t make that acknowledgement, we are leaving the driver’s seat open and then wondering why the bus isn’t going where we want. If we will just take the wheel, everything will change. We will still be dependent on Him for fuel and directions and good traffic conditions and everything else, but we get to pick our destination. Everything comes down to cause and effect. And, we are the cause, 100% of the time. We are in control. The only time things get out of control is when we give up control. It can sound like daunting responsibility. But, to reverse a familiar phrase, with great responsibility comes great power. We have that power.
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