A self-imposed glass ceiling

21 Oct

“I want to feel that each day is better than the day before and that I’m happy to be waking up and have the opportunity to do the things I do. And when I no longer feel that, I’ll do something else.”

That’s what Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE USA, said in the Newsweek from October 13, 2008. As I read that statement, I find myself half-scoffing at her, half-wondering what her secret is. How did she get to that place where she enjoys her job and feels that her life has meaning? How can she be so content with the world and herself to say that she wakes up feeling that every day is better than the day before? How I wish I had that contentment!!

I know all the trite Christian stuff: Christ gives my life meaning, I have so much to be thankful for, I have been given the greatest mission on earth, yadda yadda yadda. While I’m not saying those things aren’t true (since I still am a Christian, I know they’re true) what I have felt stirring in my heart and soul for the past year goes a lot deeper than that. Those pie-in-the-sky answers feel like a band-aid for a severed limb.

I’m disturbed lately about what my life is like. I’m not satisfied with it. I don’t like what I do everyday. I think it’s pointless. I’m living for myself and my own pathetic desires. I get up every morning to take a shower, do my hair and makeup, get dressed (while wishing for more and cuter clothes), eat breakfast, make lunches for me and Trav, read my Bible reading plan, fix some coffee and go to work. After work, I come home, make dinner (most nights), read/watch TV/blog, exercise, and go to bed.

These are the times when I think that being a non-Christian must be so much easier. Instead of fighting all the natural desires, you get to indulge them. Sure, they end being your ruin but at least you go down without a fight. But as a Christian, I feel like I’m stuck in limbo between 2 worlds. Half of me hates the materialistic, vain, narcisstic culture than we live in while the other half of me takes the bait and runs. I want to be free from the desire to have a big house, cute clothes, go on exotic vacations and see the world, have gorgeous wedding pictures, etc. But when I see others who have or do them, it feels like jealousy eats me alive.

Last weekend, I was in a major funk. All I wanted to do was sleep, laze, do nothing. So that’s what I did–and at the end of the weekend, I felt disgusted with myself. Yesterday and today I have been more active but still, what did I do that was of importance? Sure, I educated myself about the Colorado amendments and exercised. But I also watched 3 episodes of House and an hour of Boston Legal. Even if I had spent that same time reading though, I doubt it would have done anything for my conscience or sense of self-worth.

Some would say that my job (at a non-profit Christian ministry) is contributing something worthwhile. I suppose in some remote way, I am helping teens get trained to share their faith. But that’s just the thing–they’re the ones being trained to get out there. They are the ones living our vision out. Me? I just work there. Punch in my 9 to 5 and come home to…what?

I’m somewhat confounded at the seemingly sudden unrest with my life. Where did it come from? Why is it here? Why am I not like everyone else, going through life, content with the status quo, never doubting or guessing why their life is the way it is? Isn’t this what I’m supposed to be doing–working, married, living, breathing.

But it’s not enough for me.

I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even want to do this for the rest of the year. My life is passing by right before my eyes and I am doing absolutely nothing about it. I do dream about what my life would be like if I was doing something I really believed in, something I could feel good about leaving behind. A legacy of any sort. But I fear that if I died tomorrow, only my family and a few friends would truly care. Surely the world would not notice at all.

As I said earlier, this has been going on for about a year. Really, ever since we moved to Colorado. There’s something about being out here, about being torn away from everything so familiar that you don’t think twice about, that is revealing and intrusive. I try to think about my life back in Minnesota, about why I didn’t feel like this then. Why was I ok with my life? I’m really not all that different from who I was then. Actually, I’ve volunteered more out here in Colorado than I did back in Minnesota–one year vs. 24. Doesn’t that show that I’m becoming more concerned about others, rather than wasting my life on myself?

If anything, the times I’ve volunteered out here in Colorado have shown me just how little I do for anyone but myself. All of my thoughts constantly center on me and what I want. When I feel like I don’t do enough for other people, instead of moving into action to remedy the problem, I mope and feel depressed. Which just shows that it’s really all about me in the end anyway.

What I yearn to do is break free from living under my own glass ceiling. I dream about doing big things–but I always rationalize my way out of them. I fantasize about being impulsive and about throwing all my eggs into one basket to achieve something of epic proportions–but well-meaning advice from well-meaning friends coaxes me from the edge. So I try to pacify myself with a life of mediocrity, monotony, and quasi-fulfillment.

It may sound to some reading this that I’m on the verge of doing something rash. But I’m not. I know that the Lord is in control of my life and I truly believe that He has put this unrest in my soul for a reason. It has come along enough times now that I finally realize that I need to grab it and ride it, though I have no idea where it may take me and when. While my fleshly desire is to despair under the comforter on my bed, my Spirit is preparing me for the biggest battle I will ever have to fight–the battle against myself.

Was that last line too cheesy? 🙂 I couldn’t resist.

4 Responses to “A self-imposed glass ceiling”

  1. Carrie October 22, 2008 at 9:56 pm #

    I feel like you’re in my brain! I think we are very similar. Just about everything you said is a lot of how I feel and think recently too. You’re not alone… I’m not okay and happy with just life as it is. I always feel like I’m not doing what I’m supposed to or struggling to just get by, wanting to do something great for God but not able to or knowing how to do it. Sorry if that makes no sense. Just wanted to let you know that I completely understand you and feel the same things. We’d probably have a lot to talk about if we ever met up at a coffee shop!

  2. Kathy Kluthe October 23, 2008 at 8:34 am #

    Thanks Carrie. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who is restless for a life that means more. I talked to my husband about this a lot last night and he has similar feelings, though not as intense. I just have to cling to the belief that this is God’s way of making me get out there and accomplish what I wouldn’t have on my own.

  3. Katie Stromwall October 27, 2008 at 9:19 pm #


    I am with you the battle against myself. And it IS the biggest battle we fight each day! I really appreciate your willingness to share so honestly how you are thinking and feeling about your life. You are reflecting on your priorities and the lifestyle you live… and its amazing what God does when we re-evaluate and confess to him that we want more of life- more of God to awaken us to live this life in the radical ways he can make possible! I often feel stuck like this too- wondering what am I doing with my life? When I joined staff w/Nick I struggled a lot with not feeling like I was really owning the vision but just attaching along with Nick… so I have had to pray a ton for God to increase my desire and vision… he is definitely answering prayer, but its a slow process! I appreciate how you are sharing the struggle of being a Christian and “knowing” all of the things we are suppose to know about Christ fulfilling us, etc. Getting stuck in seasons of knowing all of the bible- answers, but struggling to live it out- is one of the greatest challenges Christians face. Letting it go from our heads to our hearts is really a miracle of God’s grace. You are inspiring me to re-evaluate and fight against the battle of self. Thanks, Kathy!


  1. Little joys « Learning and loving it. - October 28, 2008

    […] at 8:58 pm · Filed under Random thoughts and tagged: God, husband, joy, life Ever since my restless post a week ago, I feel like I’ve been more aware than usual of little things that I enjoy, as if […]

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