All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. – J. R. R. TOLKIEN, The Fellowship of the Ring
Today was a chapel marking the number of years employees have worked at LBC, and I was recognized for being there five years. Milestones like that make a person stop to think. And, when I started thinking about LBC, I started doing some math. Don’t worry, it was simple math, so I didn’t hurt myself. I figured out that I was at LBC for four years to get my undergrad degree, one year as an adjunct, and five more years as a full-time faculty member. All that adds up to ten years, and if you take the fact that I’m thirty one and divide that by ten, it means that I’ve been at LBC for one third of my life (well, almost, I kept the math simple and didn’t want to bust out a decimal point).
One third of my life. Sometimes I realize the something has happened to me, but my only reaction for a moment is to think, “Now, how did that happen?” Honestly, I’m not sure what to think when I contemplate being settled somewhere for one third of my life. Maybe that’s because I moved around quite a bit as a kid and never stayed settled in one place for long. Maybe that’s because I can’t decide whether I feel almost like I just started working at LBC yesterday or ages and ages ago. This dividing of my life into thirds is almost surreal.
I did come to two realizations. First, I’m glad I didn’t know when I was a junior and senior in high school just how much of an impact my choice of college would have on my life. I’m not saying that I would have changed the decision; I just think if I would have felt the full weight of it, I would have been paralyzed by indecision. I think many major life decisions are that way — a career, a marriage, the pursuit of a dream. If we try to anticipate what will happen in those endeavors every day for many, many years into the future, we would be rendered helpless to decide. Life stretches too far in the future to anticipate all the variables that will unfold in front of us, so we must choose to pursue the direction that is wise, and we wait as that decision unfolds one season at a time.
Second, I realized that I’m glad that I wound up choosing to train and work at a place where I believe in the mission and vision of the organization. If I’d chosen to devote one-third of my life into something that wasn’t worth believing in or valuing, I think instead of surreal pondering I’d be experiencing some sort of frustrated disillusionment that the investment of one-third of my life couldn’t be accounted for in terms of meaningful return, and I do thank God for intervening when I was just a high school kid without a clue and steering me in right direction.
So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.