I took my college degree and immediately became a day laborer. I wasn’t lazy; it was really difficult work. I just didn’t have any specific goals in life. Without any other dream to pursue, I focused on pursuing comfort.
I worked steadily but didn’t pursue a career anywhere. Careers come with responsibilities and might go home with you at the end of the day. The simple jobs I held didn’t require mental effort or put demands on me. I arranged my schedule so I could spend a lot of time reading and gaming. Saturday night LAN parties were the center of my week. Everything I did was focused on how happy it might make me.
My wife comes from a big family, and she wanted to start having kids early. I declined; I knew that having kids meant responsibility, work, sacrifice. Couldn’t we spend a few years just hanging out?
I am an Eagle Scout and grew up in the church. When Man Camp started, I knew I wanted to go. I wasn’t necessarily looking for something different, I just wanted to have the experience.
I feel like God started to crack me open on that trip. I used to constantly measure everything to determine how it would best benefit me. I started learning that I could instead find peace through serving my wife and the people around me. It didn’t make any sense. I had devoted so much of my life to maximizing my own happiness, and I only achieved small moments of rest before starting all over again. But even briefly setting aside my pursuit of comfort to instead wash the dishes or help cook a meal brought me a peace that I didn’t understand.
My wife is from Michigan and had always wanted to move back to be around her family. I wasn’t much interested in moving away from my friends. But after making offer after rejected offer on houses in Cincinnati, I finally asked God, “Do you want us to move to Michigan?” Yet again I felt a bizarre peace. While I still wanted to remain in Cincinnati, it was slowly becoming more important to me to participate in what it felt like God was doing.
Our first child was born seven months after we moved to Michigan. My new job takes a lot more work. We lead a Crossroads Anywhere group along with volunteering at a local church. This means my free time is pretty limited. Past Joel wouldn’t have been able to handle this lifestyle, but I’ve seen so much good spring up each time I’ve chosen to sacrifice a little more comfort in order to participate more fully in what I think God is doing.__ -Joel J.__