How do we know when the Universe is directing us and how do we know when it is testing us? I have asked myself this question a lot over the last few years. A spiritual advisor once suggested that sometimes the Universe offers opportunities to help us clarify our needs, while other times the Universe offers opportunities that guide or direct us. But how do we know the difference?
Last week, I got a call from an organization about a job I applied for seven months ago. The job has been on hold because of a hiring freeze and the organization may now be able to move forward with the hiring. The woman who called asked me if I was still interested. I said “yes”, but the reality is that I applied for that job because I felt I had to. Now, that it may be offered to me, I am struggling with the decision that I may have to make. Do I take a job in an organization I left ten years ago or do I hold out and see if I can make it fly with my new non-profit organization?
I have not had an income in several months so the obvious answer is “take the job”. But during these months, I have cultivated partnerships, project ideas, a presence on the web. I have applied for a few project contracts that I have a good chance of landing. So the question is: “Do I go with the safe option? Do I go with the financial security? Do I go with the known quantity? Or do I hold out for this new thing; this new organization that I have been incubating?”
If I was clear that I love this new “thing”, it would be easy. But it has been hard working on my own, being outside of all the circles, worrying about money, asking for money, and selling myself. I am spent. I am worn out. I am tired and discouraged and a little depressed. Now, I just want a job, an income, to feel like a valuable member of a team once more. With this former employer, the work load would be heavy, the working conditions would be stressful, but it would be good work for an organization that has the potential to affect change in people’s lives. That is not a small thing.
What do I want? I really don’t know anymore. When this organization called last week, the woman said “you are a hot commodity”, and I laughed and foolishly admitted that if that is the case, it certainly does not feel like it. I have felt excluded, isolated, disconnected, disowned, unsupported, unacknowledged, and unrecognized for so long that I am just relieved to hear someone say that they have a job for me.
So, there are all these possibilities on the one side and this potential certainty on the other side…what do I do? Is the Universe directing me or is it testing me? Some part of me has sighed with relief. I have stopped developing proposals. I want to cancel the meetings I have lined up for this week. I want to stop working at finding money so I can do work. Is that an acceptable reason to take a job?
It has never been my style to settle, to do a job to pay the bills, but I feel like I have been beaten into submission. Some part of me feels like I can go back to this organization now because I know how bad it can be out there. I feel like I will see all of its quirks and limitations differently now because I will see them in comparison to the oppressive and frustrating organizations I have worked for over the last several years. Some part of me feels like I need to go back to this organization to help me pick up the pieces; to remember what it feels like to work in an organization that supports social change; to remember what it feels like to have my skills and expertise valued and appreciated.
My spiritual advisor says that if I go back to the old organization, there is good chance that I will be back where I am today a year from now starting out on my own all over again. Then it would feel like I had wasted the last seven months; it would feel like the sacrifice was for naught. But maybe, none of that matters. Maybe we can only make the decisions based on where we are today. Maybe we can only make decisions based on the options that are in front of us today. I am a risk taker. I could take the risk and bet on my own organization IF I really believed in it and me. But, today, I am burned out, worn down, and broken. Today, I need the security of a pay cheque. Today, I need colleagues to work with. Today, I need an organization that values me. Today, I need to do the work that I love to do.