Work and Religion (PBP).

As anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time can tell you, I am vastly worried that by going back to work (as if I had a choice in that) will cause me to lose just about all of the very hard work I’ve put into my religion since I was fired in August. This is actually a very prevailing fear of mine and as much I try to, I find that I can’t really shake it. I will have moments of intense panic where I ask myself if I’m losing something yet. While the answer, thus far, has always been “no,” that doesn’t really mean much. I’ve been working for about two weeks now and that, I feel, isn’t quite enough time to make a big decision on what I could or could not lose, have or have not lost. It’s so all-intensive, this fear, that I focused my Fet Gede Tarot reading on the question. I dream about it. I keep assuring myself when I put on my jewelry that everything is still there.

The thing is that while I think about all of this, I’ve been going through my previous work history to find out when religion and work no longer coincided. When was it that the materialistic Leo who let religion and faith fall to the wayside last year take over? What was the exact moment that I can say, clearly, that religion was no longer important to me? And I’ve begun to seriously consider if it isn’t the environment, and therefore the jobs that I have worked, that has made it difficult for me to retain my faith. Thing is, I don’t think it is the retail atmosphere… per se.

I’ve always worked retail jobs.

Today, I sat back (in between calls) and thought about my first job. I got it because of BFTX. She worked at a local fruit mart and managed to get me hired on in the ice cream department the summer after high school. I managed to keep the job, moving to the fruit area, after the ice cream counter closed. (I always felt that this was a clear indicator that I had a go-get-’em attitude.) I’ve thought back to that job and I can’t quite see it as a place that would have sucked out faith. I had faith in various arenas back then, but they weren’t religious in any sense. (I was still in an atheist phase.) While, of course, I’m looking back across over ten years of time, I have to admit that the job seems almost as if it would have boosted my faith in whatever I chose to believe in at that point. The place we worked at was, pretty much, left to the running of young adults and teenagers. I think that this childlike atmosphere would have only allowed creative, faith-based thoughts to flourish.

Of course, I don’t know.

I can only conjecture here.

But thinking back with a fond nostalgia, I often wonder if I had religion back then if it would have been suppressed. And I honestly don’t believe so. I think part of it would have been the atmosphere of a bunch of kids running an entire fruit mart until nine o’clock at night. But, I do feel that it was the childlike naïvete that ruled that place after hours that would have fostered more ideals, faith, religion, and beliefs. And I’ll be frank here, I’ve never considered the work I did at the fruit mart is inherently retail. Technically, I was selling items to others via a cash register. However, it always felt more like a clubhouse than a job. It was a sad day when the place closed and all the people I made friendly with moved on to other avenues.

My other jobs have always been, definitively, retail. And some of them have had me wondering that if religion had been a part of my life if it had been with a fervent belief. The thing is that in some cases, such as the job directly after the fruit mart place, it grated on me. It wasn’t the interaction with people so much as the rampant nepotism in that place. It also bothered me immensely that I was being asked, in that job, to live off of 20 hours a week, which is intensely impossible (even for a 19-year-old back then). However, I do believe that part of the draining capacity to that job was where I was working: I was working in a mall and all manner of hooligans and idiots came in daily. I was working in a mall and all manner of people I never wanted to associate with again came in on a regular basis. The job there was draining and I legitimately believe that any faith I may have held then would have been pulled from me.

In going back, I look through the jobs that I have had and have decided which aspects would have fostered a religious belief and which would have curtailed a religious belief. All of them have been in relation with customer service or retail of a sort. And in each of them, I find myself overly surprised by the answer. I’ve come to associate my time working at the first gas station in Texas as a time that would have, possibly, allotted for religious fervor. However, I have also come to believe that my time as a front desk clerk, working the split shift that I did, would have removed me entirely from a religious capacity. Going back to the environment of the first gas station some years later, I find myself looking back to nights spent in a coven of three on the phone, performing magic and holding rituals. So, while I was tuckered out from being a new mom and having to survive every day, I still had belief, religion, faith. The previous call center job – faith would have been destroyed. The secretary job – faith would have been added to and growth would have happened.

Then I come back to the time at the greediest company and I realize just how much of that job sucked out of me. It wasn’t just the faith and the belief, but the inherent desire to do anything whatsoever in a religious capacity. Anything that felt like it was necessary or those intense moments where god communication was practically mandated were ignored in the face of rest, spending time with my child, and the all-pervasive materialistic nature I developed. Everything and everyone was put in second place to that job. I say very often now that my first goal is my child – whatever he needs, wants, desires. The thing is that while I was telling myself I was working the hours and making the money for my child, it didn’t matter. As I said in the reading I did for myself last Friday, the money was great, but what point where the clothes, the books, and other things it bought if I never had time to use those things or see my child in those things? I never really looked at it this way before, but I’m pretty sure that place completely warped my sense of self as well as my soul.

And it frightens me very much that a place can do that to me.

Something that I require in order to survive can destroy something that is inherently within me and that I believe in strongly.

The thing I have to wonder is where do we draw the line about all of this. Where do we draw the line between what we require to make survival on the physical realm versus what we require to survive on a spiritual level? Can you even draw the line? Is there even a reason to not allow the two to meet? I have to wonder what it is that I see from other polytheists and pagans who managed to survive quite well while working their jobs, but also continuing in their beliefs. Is it just the kind of person I could become because of X-type of place that makes it harder for me? Or is this something that others struggle with, as well?

How many pagans can say that they are satisfied with their jobs in relation to their spiritual wants and desires?

And how many pagans can say that their jobs just sap the whole thing out of them at the end of every day?

And when is it okay to say that it isn’t okay to let the job take over every minutiae of every aspect of our lives?

Is it sacrifice here that’s necessary or is it the ability to stand up and say, “this is not okay,” and walk away?

I know that I can walk away from a job that is not for me. I know that, financially, it will not be okay, but I can do so without looking back with a second glance. I’ve done it before and I do not doubt that I will do it again. But, when will I look back and say that the reasons I’m looking back are for personal, spiritual, religious gain as opposed to the politics inherent in the environment? I’d like to say that in this whole going back to work thing that I will be able to know when enough is enough, now, and get the fuck out of Dodge. I’d like to say that I’ve learned the lesson.

But, have I?

And again, I come back to what’s more important: religious growth or financial?

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12 thoughts on “Work and Religion (PBP).

  1. I think that any job will tire you out on some level, just because its work. Yes, sometimes that means you have to sacrifice other parts of your life. I think though you are in a strong position now. Even if you started working full time I believe you’d find time to have spiritual moments.

    When I was working 60+ hours a week I still pulled myself to my altar almost every night. I was drained and wiped, but I still took that moment to pray. I found time in the day to do things like on my walk to work I would do mindful meditation, on my lunch break I would get outside to breath in the air or bring a book to read that lifted my spirits. I kept a notebook in my purse so I could jot down thoughts and blog ideas etc.

    I have hated jobs. Hated them deeply. I have had them run me down and eat me up. But I didn’t leave them until I had something else lined up. Because while it meant I was spiritually drained I was still making money to feed and house myself and that is important too.

    But that is my thing. :) It will be different for everyone.

  2. The mundane world of work and the need to eat is always going to be competing with the religious world. I guess there are different ways to approach it. You could, for example, link your job as a service to your gods in some capacity, even if that capacity is “I’m working an exhausting job because I want to keep supplying your shrine with offerings AND keep a roof over my head, clothes on my back, etc.”

    If your House of the Mundane is on fire–you’re falling behind on bills, there’s a serious illness in the family, etc–, then it seems reasonable to reduce a practice to its bare bones, whatever that means for you. For me it means coming to shrine three times a day while I struggle to get my life together. It’ll mean something different for you.

    It is soooo easy to get sapped by the mundane world. What it might come down to is consciously working to maintain a sort of balance.

  3. What if finding your religion or your faith in your work – no matter what it is – is the reason that this keeps emerging as an issue for you? Is there a way to balance the two? Are they separate?

    This used to be one of my bugboos. It became less so when I began finding what I really loved doing and getting related jobs.

    • I do think that this may be more in line with what you are suggesting. The job I’m working currently could be seen as a type of healing and so, would be in line with Sekhmet. However, I did notice a trend of mine when job hunting to look for health related fields. It’s not that I wanted to be a doctor, but that I wanted to assist the healers in some way (reception, volunteering, etc).

      So, I’m thinking that this may be the case.

  4. I have worried about this too. I find a peace in my spiritual life I can never feel in the outside world. And yet, when I am working, no matter what the job, I find ways to merge the spiritual with the mundane. I find humanity such a great teacher. I think although many deeply spiritual people choose a solitary life, or a life which requires sacrifice of material things and personal relationships, I know that we are on this Earth for a reason and so I walk the Earth walk and do whatever it is that I am supposed to do, meet the people I need to meet and have all the experiences that are also necessary to my spiritual growth. Times when I was out of work, I had more time for spiritual practices, granted, but I still make time for them (although not as much) because this is a part of my life that I cannot be without. There was one time when I was working so much just to get by and I was very angry with the gods for this, so I felt no need to make time for them. But that only hurt me in the end. I light a candle, incense and meditate in the morning and in the evening – no matter what. And then on my days off I do more. But during my work time, I experience humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly and it helps keep me on the path that I want to be on and be the person I want to be.

  5. I personally think that mundane has to win out on some levels. Being spiritual is great- but it’s useless if you’re spiritually homeless (esp with children or pets). I’ve had some pretty grating jobs. I’ve had shit jobs while living at the parent’s house while driving an hour each way to work. I mean… it happens. Life takes over, and religion sometimes has to be pushed back. But, that’s when you have to find ways to bring religion with you. Wear something to remind you of it, find meaning in the job you do to honor the gods, bring something religious and put it on your desk for help.. whatever. Or, do your job, remind yourself that it is only a means to an end, and hten go home, shake off what you did all day, and go about your business as best you can.

    And yes, you can quit a job. But is it really going to help you spiritually if you can’t pay the bills? Right now you’re shorting out because of a fear of what you COULD lose (hell, you haven’t even lost it yet x.x;) but if you quit your job, you’d revert back to fearing losing your house, or not ever finding another job- which will short you out spiritually as well.

    It’s a Catch 22, and that’s what makes it so difficult.

  6. I am working toward a more spiritually satisfying career. I am currently working as a marketer, and honestly, it sucks up so much of my time and stresses me out. I want to contribute something to the world that is positive. Marketing definitely “ain’t it.”

    • I know exactly what you mean. I think *this* is what I’m looking for. The good portion to the current job is that it helps me to think of blog entries, new story ideas, and I’ve been reading like whoa. So, it does have some benefits, but they’re just not… enough.

      • I have noticed that you have been posting a lot more recently, and very insightful posts as well! I have been trying to kickstart my creative brain, and so started a photo/haiku blog where I have challenged myself to post one new photo and haiku a day. It truly has changed the way my brain looks at the world, in a good way….. I hope we both find “perfect” jobs in the future, that allow us to express the parts of our selves we most cherish…..

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