To start this blog, Katelyn and I both discussed how we have decided to stop putting off our lives and take action today. Katelyn shared how she decides if something is worth doing. To follow her, I am going to share a little about a recent decision I have made in my life and how I got there so you can see what this looks like for me.
In addition to starting this blog with Katelyn, I took the leap to become a certified victim’s advocate. To understand how I got here, you probably need to know a little more about me. I have always wanted to “make a difference” in the world. Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, a lawyer, a counselor, a detective- anything that at the time seemed like the best way to make an impact in this world. A little over three years ago, I discovered a biblical social justice Master’s degree at Denver Seminary and I just knew this is where I was being called. (Don’t worry- I’ll share more about all of that later!) I studied biblical and theological foundations for “doing justice”, interned at my church to encourage justice as part of everyday discipleship, and wrote my final paper and project on intimate partner violence.
Fast forward six months and I still work for Starbucks and haven’t started my “career”. Unfortunately, my desire at a younger age to be about fifteen different things led to me not having any actual experience. Except making coffee and supervising other people making coffee. Okay, so that’s a huge down play of what I actually do- but you get the point.
For months I applied to non-profit jobs for which I had absolutely no qualifications or experience and heard nothing back. My degree and a decade of experience working for a corporation seemed to be getting me nowhere. To say it was discouraging would be a huge understatement. I stopped applying all together and started to feel pretty depressed. I felt I had wasted thousands of dollars and years of time for no one to think I was good enough. This is a pretty common feeling for me, but now it seemed to be confirmed through rejection. I was getting nowhere and I wasn’t helping anyone. All I had been offered was a volunteer position I had applied for months previously while still in grad school.
And then… I realized I don’t have to be in my full time “justice career” to be seeking justice for those who need it. So I decided to be content with where God has placed me, in His timing and His knowledge. Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t still struggle with being at the same job I’ve had since I entered undergrad. Or that I don’t still long to be seeking justice in the most effective way possible as a career. But I did take the step to do what I can to help others. It’s actually pretty lucky that I work at Starbucks because I have an extremely flexible schedule which allows me to volunteer my time. Pretty much, I work with victims of domestic violence cases who are going through judicial proceedings. I explain procedure, discuss their rights, go over protection orders, victim’s compensation, and possible outcomes for the offender, etc. I also accompany them to court and stand with them as they address the magistrate. In essence, I make sure the women and men who have been abused understand their rights and feel their voice is being heard.
Without thinking about it this way, I actually went through Katelyn’s steps, although with a couple differences. I incorporate the following questions into prayer and discussion with my husband, which factor greatly in my decision making process.
Do I want to do this? As Katelyn said, pretty easy question to answer. I applied for the position and I focused on domestic violence in Seminary. Obviously I want to do this.
Am I more afraid to NOT do it? Absolutely. What a perfect opportunity to see if I have the passion, ability, and longevity to do this work full time. If I have been called to seek justice, I have to start NOW, no matter how small it may seem at the time.
Will it make me happy long term? This is a tricky question for me. Working with victims is HARD. It will break your heart over and over again. So I typically ask, especially in this case, will I be fulfilled/satisfied long term? This is where prayer came into play the most for this decision. I had to make sure that this was something meaningful and part of God’s plan for my life. Perhaps the reason I haven’t found another job is so that I have the time and flexibility to do this specific work right now. (And it gives me to time to build up this new business with Katelyn. Bonus!)
Is it harmless to those around me? I take this question one step further and ask not only is it harmless, but is it helpful? I felt a resounding yes when I thought about this. Obviously, there is care and consideration and training on how to protect victims and ensure we don’t further traumatize them. But it goes beyond not being harmful. The entire purpose of advocacy for IPV victims is to be there to help them through court, with processing emotional trauma, by finding them resources and referrals, etc.
Will it challenge me to be better? ABSOLUTELY! I just started the training for this position and I can say without a doubt it is challenging work. But it is already making me more compassionate and understanding. It is also increasing my awareness of trauma and what can be done to empower victims and give them back the control that has been taken from them.
I hope that seeing how I made this decision inspires you to take that leap and do something that scares you. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I enter the courthouse. But you have to start somewhere…and then you have to keep going.