Thursday, November 27, 2014

Unexpected and I'm Thankful

Thanksgiving is the calendar's way of forcing us to find a few moments for introspection, specifically with regard to all that we have to be thankful for.

This time around I find myself reflecting more and more on how the trajectory of my life has been so dramatically altered over the last two years.

The journey is hardly ever a straight line...

A few months shy of two years ago, I had every intention of spending a long career in science. I had published a number of papers in good journals, including a chapter in a technical book, and I had good prospects for jobs post-graduation. The goal was a position at an undergraduate university teaching and doing research. I enjoy working directly with people, teaching,  and science, so it seemed to be a perfect fit for my passions. I had applied for federal funding for my work and had interviewed with multiple labs about possibly joining their research.

Around this same time, I was approached with the idea of joining the staff at my church (Northridge Church, in Rochester, NY). I had joked for years about my desire to step out of science and into ministry, so watching these two passions competing with one another in my heart was overwhelming.

Then I got the letter about my proposal for federal funding -- my proposal had been rejected. That proposal was my ticket to jumping right into teaching. Now the only path left was to do a post-doc, where I would be doing research for a few years, before I would get another shot at a teaching position. And the worst part was that I would have to leave Rochester, and Northridge, because most of the opportunities for work in my field were not in the local area.

The decision was very hard. But eventually I agreed to apply for the ministry position and began the interview process. I worked through this while I wrapped up my dissertation writing and defended my work to earn my Ph.D. in Biophysics. I was hired and began my new career in ministry a few weeks after I was awarded my degree.

Mixing passions and finding new ones. I miss working in science. I truly do. But I've had incredible opportunities to mix some of my passions in my new position (e.g. leveraging my science and statistics backgrounds to help our leadership make informed decisions).

The Raspberry Pi on my desk might give you the impression I'm in denial.

And I've had opportunities to further ignite passions that have laid "dormant" to some degree because my research work had limited how much time I had available to focus in those areas.

Throughout all of this, my wife and I were able to pursue our desire to involve ourselves in adoption by beginning the foster care process. We would not have been able to do this if we were moving every few years because of new work opportunities.

Doing what I love with those I love. I am incredibly thankful for the role I play on the staff of a growing church that is in the business of leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus. I come to work every day excited about every opportunity I have to help people learn about their savior!

And I love everyone I work with. They are all passionate about our common mission and it is exciting to work somewhere where I can genuinely call all of my coworkers friends and where we care for each other as family (as my brothers and sisters in Christ, we ARE family in a way that blood relationships can only dream of achieving).

If you had asked me two years ago to describe where I would be in two years, I never would have described the scenario that has unfolded before me. God. Is. Good.

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