I’m at a bit of a crossroads currently. We know that we will be moving because H has an awesome new job — but we are still waiting for the location so I’ve been holding back on announcing this to people in my professional world. Once we know when and where, we can start discussing, but until then there really isn’t much to say:
We might be moving somewhere sometime after August.
It might be earlier. I have no idea when or where or how
we will make this work.
Yet I’m trying to make some big decisions in this vacuum. Do I want to continue doing federal-agency-level policy making, or do I want to jump off this ship and swim back toward legal services? Do I want to manage a non-profit? Do I want to do real estate and development deals to create more affordable housing? And the biggest question of all: is it too late, is my career too off-the-beaten path, can I even get a job as a lawyer anymore? Has my resume been permanently stamped with the scarlet letter of a policy-maker?
I don’t know these answers. I know that I want to make a difference — that when I see a need, I want to meet it. That this world is broken in so many ways, and that we can soothe the pain that stems from its brokenness.
I have a few dreams right now. I dream of working in family law and helping wounded mothers and children find protection from their dangerous worlds and benefits to help them transition into a new life. I dream of sitting in a coffee shop in Chicago or Nashville or Dallas and meeting with low-income individuals who want to understand how to start a business, or provide for their families, or start a non-profit, but just don’t know what the rules and regulations are. That just need someone to explain the rules of the game, the way insurance works, and how to move forward when so much is uncertain.
But a lot is uncertain for me too, and I wonder sometimes how I can possibly be qualified to provide legal counsel to a family struggling with such difficult issues when my own life is so bland and safe by comparison.
But there is also another option: an option where I transition into another federal-policy-making position and continue down my current path. And that option, it is full of job security but not necessarily satisfying work; bureaucracy can be such a bummer. But it could be perfect. That job has the potential to change the lives not just of the families I have time to sit with, but families all across our country. And that is something I could fight for, if the possibility were real, and the cards were right, and the budgets came through and the politics supported the effort.
If I stay in the bureaucracy there is no guarantee that the work I will accomplish will actually change the circumstances of any families. And if I leave, there is no guarantee that I can find a position that permits me to do the work I want to do — no guarantee that I can articulate the type of work I am looking for, much less find someone in that field prepared to take a risk by hiring me.
But perhaps, just maybe, I’d rather sit down and talk to one family than change a paragraph in a regulation that may or may not trickle down to affect families in need. Perhaps I’d rather meet one family’s needs where the family is, and help that family find security and peace than to edit all of the regulations in the world.
Calling is a tricky thing, in case you were wondering.