What are You Going to Do with That….?

The children are gone now. I think this is the third year in a row they have all made it home for Christmas which is a blessing and a miracle considering they are scattered from Phoenix to Germany.

When we are together I usually sit back and watch the interaction.  I think I am more aware than my offspring think but it is always an an advantage to be underestimated! One thing that really struck me this year is that, as different as we might be, we are ALL ‘what are you going to do with THAT?!’ people.

I majored in social studies (history, political science, sociology) and English. Those interests were perplexing to most of my relatives but not nearly so much as a decision to use my degree to fly helicopters for the Marine Corps. Later, I went into teaching. Teaching was semi-respectable although I had doubters who knew you couldn’t make any money doing ‘THAT’.

My wife started with a Physical Education degree with a coaching endorsement. She has since added an English endorsement. In response to the inevitable question, what she has done with THAT is to teach, coach, be a pillar of her community and church, raise three lovely children and one not-so-lovely husband, and to have more friends than anyone could possibly count.  She is also everyone’s favorite relative (including mine).

My children all have “what are you going to do with THAT” stories of their own. Never mind that the oldest two graduated with honors, their degrees are in journalism and English, classic ‘THAT’ degrees. The youngest will graduate soon, with honors, in 3 years, with a degree in social work; she wants to help children.  Her answer to people who ask what she will do with a social work degree is ‘social work’ which is pithy and to the point.

My son-in-law, also has a ‘THAT’ degree (political science). Despite this he seems to make a good living, to care about others, and to be a wonderful husband to my daughter with seemingly inexhaustible patience.

I get asked THE QUESTION constantly as I progress towards an advanced degree in ministry in a much misunderstood church much in which lay ministry is not often valued. My answer is that I am going to do what God and the bishop (in that order) call me to do and I have no idea of what that might be.

You see, in our society, “THE QUESTION” usually is not really a question seeking information. It is a statement and question combined meaning ‘you’ll never make any money doing that! Are you crazy?” I would like to ask of the big money makers or degrees “is that ALL you are going to do with THAT?” but it wouldn’t work. There are people who see life-work as meaningful only as it can be measured by money, and people to whom money is secondary.

I live in an old house which needs work, but it is paid for. I drive a car which is older, but it is paid for. Even my body needs some work, but it is paid for! I helped a bit here and there, but my children have pretty much paid for their educations on their own and they seem happy with their choices. We all lead lives we consider to have meaning and we seem as content as you can be in this crazy world. I guess that is what we are going to do with ‘THAT’.


About Edward

Dishwasher, bartender, cook, house painter, movie usher, Marine helicopter pilot, teacher, administrator, teacher again, retired teacher, Secular Franciscan, Lay Ecclesial Minister- it's been an interesting ride.
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