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What Would People Think?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Panicking with SpencerAcuff

I shouldn't be blogging right now. I should be job-searching. Actually, I've been more productive than usual these past few days of Fall Break. I've made a number of contacts and sent out a number of resumes to firms that do a wide variety or work, from health care law to commercial litigation. I have an interview tomorrow with the Georgia Capital Defender and I've set up an interview with the D.C. Public Defender.

But, as I look toward the day when I finish 20 straight years of school and finally step out into the "real world", I'm scared stiff. I've been listening a lot to a song by SpencerAcuff called "Say To Me." (You can listen to it here.) I have no idea what the song's about, but I envision the singer, Will Acuff, getting lectured to get a job - perhaps by his father (who, by the way, is my pastor and a man I deeply admire). "Knock off all this band stuff and get a real job...you're wasting your potential." This interpretation resonates with me. Indulge me here, I'm going to respond to parts of the song in light of that interpretation.

Say to me that I could love you better
Say to me that I could be a little trustworthy

I'm getting married in 10 months. Christy won't be making a lot of money and we'll both be in a lot of debt. We may have kids some day. What sort of husband and (potential) father am I being by chasing around all these low-paying jobs in our financial situations. I could love her better. I could seek a job where she will never live in fear that we can't make our next payment. Am I hesitant to pursue big-firm, corporate jobs (which, lately, I have started pursuing) because I'm idealistic....or because I'm self-righteous and willing to sacrifice my wife's well-being?

Adjust to this, I've wasted all my promise
Adjust to that, I know my words are empty

I'm smart. I'm not saying that to brag; it's a fact that I'm intelligent. I had a 3.9 at Vanderbilt and I have a 3.73 at Duke Law. That's not easy.
But what am I doing with that intelligence? I've been the kid with "potential" for so long...but am I blowing the chance to realize that potential? I don't even know what I'm doing wrong, if anything. All I know is that I look around me and see most of my law school colleagues with jobs...or at least exuding a sense of certainty that they know what they want to do. I always feel like I'm missing something.

Maybe I should just kneel down to the god of some American love
Maybe I'm already gone....

And with this line I swing back the other way and wonder if I'm selling out too quickly. The "god" of American love is money. I'm not sure if that's what Will Acuff meant, but that's what I'm reading. Our nation is obsessed with money, material goods, and financial security. It's sickening how much we all worship at the altar of making a quick buck. Now that I am interviewing with large firms that certainly do not have the interests of the "least of these" (the weak and the poor) at heart, am I selling out? To paraphrase Jesus, am I seeking the world in exchange for my soul? To quote SpencerAcuff, am I "already gone"?
I've got an instructive contrast with my friend, Kenny Ching. Kenny's worked in firms the past 2 summers while I've worked for public interest or government organizations. Kenny sat there one day last summer and realized that he could not do that for a living...that he was not fulfilled simply helping those with money get more of it. And so now Kenny is searching for government and public interest jobs while I - the "public interest" guy - am looking at big firms. I'm shamed by the contrast.
(Or am I painting things too black and white? Firms aren't evil and they may be a good place to get skills. I don't know.)

Take me away. Lead me by the hand.
Into the slaughter, I go gladly
Just be gentle with me

Sometimes I'm just willing to give up. I'm sometimes ready to take any job just so I don't have to put up with this uncertainty any more. I'm so exhausted. Life was so much easier when I knew what I was supposed to do (work hard and make good grades). I really long for that easy path being set out in front of me...even if it's just going to the "slaughter" of a draining and empty job.

I'm so damn scared.

Indulge me again; I have a response to myself. For my readers who don't share my faith, this may not be very meaningful to you. But it's times like these that I'm most grateful for a sovereign and loving God.

When I start to panic and I literally feel like screaming, I remember that He has a plan for me...that it's my job to trust and remain faithful and be diligent...and He will place me where I need to be. In the words of Relient K: "I'm a little more than useless. And when I think that I can't do this, You promise me that I'll get through this and do something right for once."

I have one more song for you, one I've been listening to constantly over the last few months. Once again, I ask your indulgence, as I'm putting the full lyrics up:

I feel crazy. Hope is hazy right now.
But I won't freak out.
I won't freak out at the sound of the...

Landslide inside.
Fear wants to take my peace of mind.
Won't run, won't hide
I will lift my hands up high

In my troubles I have doubled my prayers
Because I need them
I need them like I need the air.

Landslide inside.
Fear wants to take my peace of mind.
Won't run, won't hide
I will lift my hands up high

Here's to the Name above all names.
I will trust You, Jesus. I'll be brave.

I will live my life day by day.
Because You're the only Truth, the only way out of this...

Landslide inside.
Fear wants to take my peace of mind.
Won't run, won't hide
I will lift my hands up high

Here's to the Name above all names
Here's to the only one who saves
I will trust You, Jesus. I'll be brave

Amen and Amen.

Sorry for the long, confessional post. Here's hoping my potential employers never find it. Whoever you are, I LOVE your firm/government office/clown school! I promise next time I'll return to posting about politics, movies, and bizarre plane thefts.


  • Good luck! For what it's worth, I've felt a lot of what you're feeling. It is a strange pressure, and the influence of our classmates is very subtle this time around (compared to last year). I'm linking you to a post a friend of mine wrote. It (and her) are pretty much what's encouraged me in what I'm pursuing. I hope it helps a little for you too, my dear friend Dre was always better with the words than me. :)


    By Anonymous Amy, at 10/14/2005 1:08 AM  

  • Wooo, got cut off.

    Here's a smaller link.

    By Anonymous Amy, at 10/14/2005 1:09 AM  

  • That whole paragraph about being "the kid with potential" echoes my life too. For me the trouble with being the guy who could do anything was making up your mind what to do. All my life I was told the same as you, to work hard and get good grades and that that would lead to greater opportunities. So much for that notion. I feel constantly like I'm just going to get caught in the herd, or that maybe I already am.

    My Dad told me something his preacher said to him one time (at least I think it was his preacher): he said, "Most people live lives of quiet desperation." I'm not sure specifically what he meant, but in my current state I'm inclined to interpret it as us being desperate for some sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. I suspect you would probably refer to it as a "God-shaped hole". Point being, no matter how much everyone else seems to have things sorted out, the fact is they're just as lost as you (to quote one of my own lyrics). The best we can do is do the best we can. If that makes any sense.

    Anyway, suffice to say, you'll be okay. You know God has a plan. Take it from someone who would love to be able to feel that way, that faith is more valuable than all the "god of American love" in the world. (And I guess I should thank you for indulging me in return for this ridiculously long, scatterbrained comment.)

    By Blogger Mike, at 10/14/2005 3:48 PM  

  • How fantastic is Amy Kalman, eh?

    Thanks for your comment. I wound up writing an editorial for my school paper on the same topic, which is here: http://tinyurl.com/b5248

    If you find yourself in need of some inspirational/thought-provoking reading, I can recommend a few things: a book called Broken Contract, by Richard Kahlenberg, about his personal struggle between government service and firm life, and good old Matthew 25:34-46 and Matthew 6:19-21.

    I belive God has a plan for us too. BUT! I get antsy when people use that as a post-hoc justification for bad choices, i.e., it doesn't really matter what we do, we could sit on the couch and get fat and greasy, because whatever happens is "God's plan." So I think it's good to be actively trying to seek out that guidance. Nothing wrong with baring your soul and struggling with it a bit.

    Best of luck to you, and God bless,

    Dre :)

    By Anonymous Andrea, at 10/15/2005 3:59 PM  

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