short term 12

This film (Short Term 12, written and directed by Destin Cretton) made me bawl yesterday.

It was the kids, and the “workers,” and the heartbreak and victory and the realness which, in the words of our happy-go-lucky Seattle Film Festival host, “made you forget you were watching a movie” and really just fall into the messy and beautiful lives of this particular group home. It was feeling and heart-remembering my own time in the world of care-giving and the “at-risk,” and feeling pangs of longing to be back and among the laughter and challenges and comforts and lessons of this world. To be family with those you once considered “the least of these.” Oh my heart.

on the existence of ‘social services’

So… this is kind of a follow-up [continue-up? this isn’t a conclusion] to my previous post on 40-hour weeks and Jesus.

Since getting really excited about the kingdom of God, and how Jesus came to earth to inaugurate this kingdom and how it involves reconciliation and healing and restoration and redemption … and since learning more about how Jesus was really into being with and serving the down-and-out … “moving into the neighbourhood” to coin Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase … I’ve wondered why every Christian does not pursue social work. I mean, obviously [tongue-in-cheek here], Jesus’ ministry on Earth could best be described as social service, right? Healing the sick, visiting the lonely, being close to the destitute. Social services! And therefore, all good Christians should be in the social service field!

ARG. WRONG.

But not in the way that one might immediately think.

So yeah, I acknowledge that in my typical extreme-thinking tendencies, I’ve jumped to a wrong conclusion in assuming that every Christ follower ought to imitate Christ in His “career choice.” Of course, the idea of “career” (and “40-hour work week”) simply did not exist back then! And, if I may point it out: Jesus was actually a carpenter for most of his life. A trade! Crazy! But all this to say…

I think it’s kind of sad that “social service”-type actions and behaviours (caring for the “least of these,” ministering to the “poor,” being among the “marginalized,” advocating for the “helpless”) are relegated to the people who “have a heart” for doing such things. And then others go into business or law or education or whatever… and leave “social work” to be dealt with by other people.

I’ve been thinking a little more about this lately, and I kind of find it strange that I get paid to care for people. I find it odd that my “work” is for an organization that does caring.

I kind of think that my “work” should be something I have particular skills for (not that I’m not good at what I do) but I’m meaning – something that I’m gifted in – whether teaching or writing or organizing or whatever – and then the “rest of my life” should be filled with caring and relationships and people.

As you may be able to tell, I’m really wrestling with the “work-life” split right now and I’m thinking it’s because I think it’s just weird to get paid to care for people. That’s not a special service. That’s not something I should be paid to do. That’s just… supposed to be natural. I mean, I realize that I offer administrative and coordinating services, but it’s ultimately in the service of simply helping others. Weird!

I guess I just get confused when my “work” is what I think EVERY CHRISTIAN should be doing. In my eyes, EVERY CHRISTIAN needs to be in relationship with the “least of these.” EVERY CHRISTIAN should have a connection to someone who is “less fortunate” than them. EVERY CHRISTIAN should be “caring for” (mentoring, inviting over for dinner, hanging out with) at least one individual/family/group who is considered “marginalized.”

I don’t want my “work” to make someone else think that they don’t have to worry about caring for the down-and-out, because someone else is on it – that truly repulses me.

Again, just a reminder that these are thoughts for my heart, for me to wrestle with – though I welcome discussion! – be sure to take them with a few grains of salt.