So I had what was supposed to be a routine weekly meeting with my boss this morning. To be honest, I always dread these meetings. I work for a non-profit organization that is having alleged financial challenges–and I’m constantly afraid I’ll be sacked.
I say “alleged” challenges because we are a bunch of crazies who actually believe God can come through and keep us afloat simply because He loves the overlooked population we serve. And guess what? He does. He brings in funds from the most unlikely sources at the very time we need them most and not a second sooner. The whole thing is alternately exhilarating and terrifying.
Today’s meeting was the latter. Our faith-infused CEO has taken a sabbatical of sorts, leaving us in the hands of a highly capable, but infinitely more pragmatic, leader who is trying to get the organization to make sense on paper, which could be a mistake. God’s activities don’t always pencil out, even when His outcomes are explosive.
So this morning I tried to justify my existence to my now boss who seems skeptical about my value to the organization. He repeatedly mentioned something about deliverables and I rolled the word over my tongue wondering whether the work I had done could be measured in tangible outcomes. Regardless, the bottom line is that I have three months to deliver. Three months to bring revenue into the organization. Or I’m done.
For the record, I wasn’t hired on as a fundraiser. There are some things I am good at, but money is not one of them. If my livelihood weren’t on the line, I’d find the whole thing hilariously ironic.
My cell flashes numbers from states across the nation, which could indicate how well-connected I am, but I know better. Delaware is student loans, Ohio is that department store bill I can’t afford right now and Washington DC is calling to collect back taxes. I let it ring because I can’t bring myself to acknowledge that my budget can’t squeeze into the salary I have now, never mind the lack of salary I could be facing in three months. I resolutely determine that I’ll get a handle on all of this, yes I will. Tomorrow.
My sister called earlier and asked if was appropriate to wish me happy anniversary for a marriage that has since been dissolved. The question stung because I knew she didn’t have time to hear me explain about this morning’s meeting and how I got my three-month notice on the very day ten years ago that I found out my marriage was effectively over. I had disappointed my husband in the same way I was now disappointing my boss. I had no defined deliverables. Not then; not now. I was simply not what I am supposed to be.
Three months. I have three months to do something I have no idea how to do or I will be terminated. Of course my boss was careful to say that it is not me who will have been worthless–just what I do. “It’s not you, it’s your position.” Try as I may, I am not grasping the distinction.
When I signed up for this work, I said I was all in. All. As in everything. For better or for worse. I am what I do. And vice versa.
I’ve been listening to what is frankly a stupid audio recording by someone who is undoubtedly wildly successful pontificating on the critical importance of knowing your “definite major life purpose.” And instead of applying his sage advice to my own less than stellar life, I am thinking of the dad in A Christmas Story eagerly unpacking his major award–the culmination of his life’s work. A leg lamp.
I’ve never won a leg lamp, or anything else for that matter, but I know my life’s purpose is to in some way restore the idea that we all possess basic human dignity. That’s what I’ve been working on this past year–that’s what I’m invested in–and to learn that I haven’t contributed anything of concrete value to our organization is gut wrenching.
Not to be overly idealistic, but I actually believe we are fighting against the notion that human worth can be calculated in dollars. And now I have to deliver a certain number of those dollars to validate my own significance. It seems perverse in some way. And entirely rational.
I understand the need for solvency, sustainability and capital. After all, I was the one who gave the Israelites in the Wilderness: Moving from Manna to Manure speech. At some point, God expects you to till the ground, plant some seeds and cultivate your crops. It’s part of getting to the Promised Land. You can’t stay in transition forever.
So rather than continue to whine about my plight, I need to suck it up and get to work. I don’t know whether I can deliver, but I’m going to give it my best.
On a cheery note, I met a guy today who saved me from my pathetic pity-partying by telling me that I am both rich and beautiful. Okay, he owns a cosmetics store, but still. He actually got in my face and challenged me not to dwell on the negative, but to pick myself up–smile–and move forward into a great destiny. And then he gave me a bunch of free products. And a hug. Now that is a deliverable I can reproduce :).