People often talk about their profession as a means to an end, “It pays the bills,” “Keeps me busy,” “It’ll be worth it one day,” all the while dreaming of something else, of being one of those lucky ones, who not only get to follow their passions, but enjoy the process as well.
It’s like we’re stuck in a way of life that tells us to put up with things being bad, as if there’s no better solution. This type of approach to living is where I have taken up residence, ever since I finished high school, and blindly took steps in the grownup’s world. Working hard to provide more needless stuff to my home and life, as if this is the pinnacle of my efforts. Giving 100 percent to things that I have no passion for, but feel obliged to follow through on.
You see, the problem with me is that I am a dreamer—like countless other people—who wishes he knew how to “do,” wishes he knew what it meant to live life to the full, wishes he had the guts or fortitude to step out, and follow those dreams and desires that are so often locked away in the closet.
For 10 years, I’ve spent my life as an employee of a rather large, and noticeable fast-food restaurant of the golden arches variety. This is the only job I have ever known, the only workplace I have ever experienced, the only thing I feel I can do. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some fantastic times there, I have worked my way from the bottom up—from washing up equipment late at night, to running the entire restaurant, and ensuring the store is successful. But along with some fruitful times, have come the tears and frustrations, of feeling like life is a rut, of feeling like I’m stuck, like I have no right to really be doing the things I’m passionate about—that this is my lot in life so I should just get used to it.
If I could just dream for a moment, if I could set aside my sense of failure, the feeling of having missed the boat, I’d say I would love to be involved in something that had the ability to change lives—my own included, something that was making a difference in the lives of people, improving life, providing opportunity. Something that was helping to create hope, out of nothing.
If I could follow through on this dream, I’d pack mine and my wife’s bags (as long as she was willing), and move somewhere—anywhere—where we could help, where we might be stretched and pulled, but in the end, be useful.
Last year, my wife and I went on a short-term missions trip to the Kingdom of Cambodia. We went with a group of our closest friends, to spend time working with a local church from the capital, New Life Fellowship in Phnom Penh. The church is directly involved in a variety of activities—Street Children care, free English classes—including vocational training and development, Child Sponsorship, relief and development, and the list goes on and on. I never knew a church could do so much stuff outside its walls! We fell in love with the people of Cambodia, and the dreams of the local church—to practically provide opportunity to lift people out of poverty.
When we came back home, we knew we needed to stop talking about following our dreams, but plan to follow through on them. I gave six months’ notice to my store owner, and through the overwhelming support of family and friends, started the daunting task of packing up our old life in preparation of the new.
We are now a few days into our new life in Cambodia. We’ve given ourselves an initial time period of one year, but who knows what the future holds? All I know is that I am looking forward to finding out what it is like to really enjoy “work,” to experiencing a new culture, to trying to get around the city in a moto (a little motorcycle) in the midst of their crazy lack of road rules. Most of all, I look forward to letting myself dream … and seeing where everything ends up.