“‘I Love My Work’: Enjoying This Stage of My Life,” Ensign, July 1980, 66
I must confess: I love my work. Don’t noise it around too much, as it borders on embarrassing, but it’s true. Then again, I also liked school when I was a kid, which I suppose reveals a wicked disposition towards enjoying life.
How, you might ask, can a single woman pushing thirty be happy, much less comfortable, in a competitive business world where one is just as likely to be called on the carpet by the boss as on the telephone for a date? All I can say is that the world twirls around each day, the ocean licks the shore each day, and I enjoy working each day.
This is not to say that there is no room in my soul for the fulfillment that comes with a husband and raising kids—my soul is expandable, and I hope it will balloon out with room for all the beneficial experiences that will smile on me, bushelfuls of them I hope, basketfuls, computer printouts full. That will most likely come in time, and I’ll be happy when it does. But that timing doesn’t keep me from being happy now, too. The human soul is a delightfully complex, multi-faceted entity, always hungry for positive new experiences and interactions. And I like to keep mine fed.
That feeding may come about in different ways for different people—fortunately we all don’t follow the same diet in life. (Ah, the joys of free agency.) And we certainly are fed with a loving divine hand which gauges what is best for us at certain times in our lives. A diet of family and home in the early twenties is very healthy for some. For others of us, that experience will not come until later, whether in this life or the next. But I trust the divine hand that feeds me, and I eat up those experiences that are being offered. Fortunately, I like the fare!
We were meant to be happy in life, I think. Basically we’re all looking to being needed, to making a contribution to others, somehow making a difference in the world.
A mother teaching and nurturing her child leaves the world more beautiful than she found it, and in fact helps shape the world. A man or woman working elsewhere can also exert a positive influence on the world, whether on grand or small scale. Mankind is family, whatever our marital or job status.
All right, all right, one might say, we’re all striving to help and be needed; different people fill these needs in different ways at different times in their lives. But why do you like working in an office where there are pressures, deadlines, sometimes crazy people (although sometimes sane, too)?
I suppose I enjoy it because I’m developing there. I’m learning, making an effort toward filling that cup of potential that I have, developing those talents the Lord’s given me, talents as individual as each of our souls. And I’m making a contribution, helping someone, committing myself to advancing an idea or concept that helps keep the world running.
Part of my work entails writing, and one of the joys it brings is cool, fresh paper, smooth and clean, no bent edges. I like to touch it, smell it even. I like it in pastels, in pure whites, in boudoir blue; I like it onion-skin thin, solidly heavy, textured or slick. I like it in reams or in tiny slivers of small intent. I like to see it waiting to be written on. But most of all I like the feeding that happens when I touch a fountain pen to the paper, and watch the thin stream of black ink weaving across it. Creation! Thoughts sliding across a page, somehow becoming tangible even though they can be physically touched no other way. It’s a minor miracle bestowed upon mankind, and I can participate, and hope to all my life, married or single, half-dead or alive, when I’m 96 and raising nasturtiums.
And there are the other joys—rubbing shoulders with nonmembers, enjoying their friendships and gifts, sharing my treasures with them. Or setting new goals professionally, even personally, and stretching my mind and even soul to reach them. Or basking in the spirit-warming presence of a true friend with whom I can share the love and peace of my innermost self. Or finding beauty in productivity, satisfaction in meeting challenges well. There is a goodness to honest work that yields satisfaction regardless of our situation in life.
As for the crazies and the ever-present moments of frustration or pressure, even tedium at times—they are a common denominator to almost anyone who works dally. Life provides us with joys as well as drudgeries, even for those with the most “exciting” jobs—and gives us a chance to learn to create happiness for ourselves even during the lean times, to temper our attitudes, to govern our lives in peace, whatever our external circumstances may be.
Another common denominator to all who work is the challenge to live the gospel—no matter what our setting. We all have pitfalls to be wary of, some external, some internal. For some it may be a dally wearing upon our hope, and allowing it to become frayed; for others it may be juggling one’s ethics in office politics, or placing ourselves proudly above another, or putting more importance on saving face than washing it when needed. Our experiences and our operational spheres may vary, but the principles of integrity and following our Savior don’t. We all grapple with the challenge of being good and kind people, at home or at the office.
It’s the everyday persistence of meeting challenges, whether they be pressures, monotony, deadlines, or even sorrow, that leads us gently to the state of reliance on our Savior and attuning our lives and attitudes to his. As we incorporate more of his attitudes into our lives, we become more like him. That can be our most challenging work—and our most rewarding.
What more can I say? Honest work is soul satisfying. I thirst to meet the creative challenges of my work now, just as I anticipate that same drive to meet the creative challenges of my own home and family, when my life plays into that stage. I find the most important challenge is to keep growing and learning and progressing, vision fixed to the example of the Savior in all that I do. To settle for anything less would be sleeping on the job.