the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Year #3:Searching for Meaning

If there's been a theme to this year, it's been "searching for meaning"
- or maybe purpose. I don't think teaching English will really give
purpose to my life. On the other hand, church gives my life meaning (or
rather Christ gives my life purpose), and while I'd love to just do
church work, I'd also like to be practically useful as well.

That said, some missionaries work their whole career without seeing any
"results" themselves.

This week I've had a whole bunch of people (students, parents, teachers,
church members, etc) asking me too stay - but no one really giving me a
reason to stay. I've been asking God to show me a reason to stay, but I
haven't seen anything yet. One of my bosses in Tokyo said "If people
want you to stay it means your ministry is effective" when he visited
here recently. I don't know that I agree completely.

On the "career" side, I've gotten some advice about going to grad school
rather than just getting an ESL cert. Also, going back to the USA during
this recession means a pretty good chance at a substantial drop in
income. If I was only thinking of myself, the thing to do would be
change jobs here, stay in Japan, and get a Masters while working. But
like I said, I'm rather skeptical of career giving my life meaning (but
I do need some cash in flow too).

One thing I feel like I can't do is stay here at this job. The job keeps
me busy enough that I can't study Japanese or apply for higher edu
programs, or start an English club or Bible Study (in hindsight I should
have done the last two when I first arrived). Maybe this is my laziness,
but I don't think that's the whole problem.

Investing in people (and learning from them too) may be the only real
reason to be here. And while I haven't done the greatest job of that, it
hasn't been easy either. I kind of want to go back, regroup, and give it
another fresh start, but that's the easy way. The hard (and perhaps
mature) way would be to stay here and keep trying.

More thoughts later. Thanks for reading.


Blogger *cq* said...

I've been searching for meaning in the past 2 weeks. Only a month after work and I'm already questioning! Some say it's a sign of overwork... I don't know, work never leaves me with enough energy/time to complete the thinking and searching process, so I'm left with a question without an answer. But it's amazing how @ JLPT exam yesterday (which I don't think I'll pass), there was a compre passage talking abt staying in a job for 3 yrs - give urself time to find out if that's wat u really want to do. Even if at the end of it, it's not really wat u want to do, at least you've got skills and knowledge gained over those 3 years.
I'm not sure if I'll ever find the answer, but I suspect it's got a lot to do with inward development rather than the outward stuff. I was told 2 weeks ago, it's not so much the where and wat I'm doing that matters, what God's really after is our relationship with Him - in a more concrete sense: Am I still worshipping Him and giving thanks even though I am in Malaysia, singing way less hymns (to remind me how good He is), praying way less (no people to pray with), reading less Bible (work gets in the way)... be it student work @ Hirosaki/KGK or work work in Malaysia - He wants me to tune in to Him and keep my eyes fixed on Him.
My 2 cents, brother.

12/08/2008 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I originally planned to stay in Japan only one year back in November 2002, mostly to "regroup" and get away from a lot of craziness, the binge drinking and the nonsense. I suppose I could call it running away. I had been a Christian for about a year. I found that I enjoyed teaching so much that I signed up for another year until it eventually became five and a half years. I don't think I found "meaning" in my work, but I did find it meaningful.

Now that I'm back in Dirty Jersey, it's hard to find a job as a teacher. I applied for a teaching position in NYC, but that will take until August. The job market isn't bad; it's just that people will have to take jobs that they normally wouldn't accept. (I'll probably be throwing UPS boxes for Christmas.)

If you're concerned about cash flow, I'd stick to something safe. Don't do something a stubborn risk-taker like me would do. =) It's been about six weeks of me applying for jobs (I don't have a car, so I'm limited), and I still have nothing.

But back to the topic at hand, I never had a problem searching for meaning ever since I got born-again. My real problem was doing something meaningful.


12/09/2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger NB said...

Hey! Good to see you two. :)

cq: They say it takes two years to get used to the flow of a new job. And I don't think there's ever enough time to reflect and process.

I'm a little worried about your lack of Christian community. I thought I could go it alone when I first came here, but I learned the hard way that that's not true. I'm still reaping some of the benefits of that thinking today.

Kris: I'll remember to be more careful with my wording next time. ;) Mostly this is just me thinking out loud to get stuff out of my head. You know, I think about stuff too much.

PS - I just heard about my first shotgun wedding of a close friend in Japan and I'm kind of helplessly pissed about it.

Thanks for your opinions. We'll be praying for both of your situations too.

12/09/2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your first one? You've been in Japan for, like, three years? The Asahi girls I used to practice my Japanese with next to the old GEOS had shotgun marriages. It was frequent news for me. 80% of them failed with the "man" skipping out on the girl.


12/13/2008 5:37 AM  

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