Dear Joe

Dear Joe,

This is the eighth time I’ve started writing you this letter. I have so many thoughts about how your work relates to the idea of God’s image-bearers bringing cosmos to chaos, and for a long time I didn’t know where to start.

Was it better to start with your work as an Identity Verification Analyst at Capital One? I didn’t even know that was a thing until we spoke! Or should I begin by talking about your role as a filmmaker with Path to Life, “a friendly digital storytelling agency with a mighty heart and positive mindset” that you’re growing when you’re not at your 9-to-5?

Well, I finally decided that it doesn’t matter much which part of your “double life” I talk about first. Instead, I need to start with the end. Or, to be more specific, I need to start with where I ended up after we spoke.

As I walked away from our conversation about your work I thought, “That is a man of hope and humility.”

Your perspective on work demonstrates such trust in who God is, what He has done, and what He has in store for you. And you image Him in your deep appreciation for the work He’s given you, no matter what that work looks like.

You shared with me that while you enjoy your day job, it’s not what you set out to do. You’d rather be on the creative side of the goings-on at Capital One, but that hasn’t happened…yet. Instead, you—a born storyteller—spend the bulk of your days reviewing small business credit card applications. It might not be exciting work for you, but you understand why it’s important. You’re thankful to be part of something that maintains your employers’ integrity and contributes to the growth of small businesses. You’re thankful to be part of something that creates order, to be part of that cosmos.

Meanwhile, it’s in the margins of your life right now that you hone the craft of your calling: using film to tell stories. In her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L’Engle declares storytelling essential in helping humans “to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.” You get that. In fact, during our conversation you said, “The ability to create something is the most important thing in my life…To take moments out of someone’s life and put them into something cohesive is incredible.”

Do you see what you’re doing every day, Joe? In your work at Capital One and in your work with Path to Life, you’re bringing order—cosmos to chaos—to two totally different spheres, and you do so without judgment. While one sphere might be more appealing to you, you don’t claim that it’s more valuable than the other. Right now you’re doing the work you’ve been given, and you’re doing it well and faithfully. It’s your hope that this good work will lead to other opportunities in due time. That doesn’t just require an understanding of the inherent value of the work done by God’s image-bearers; it requires humility. And here’s the thing about humility (as Madeleine L’Engle puts it): “We can be humble only when we know that we are God’s children, of infinite value, and eternally loved.”

During our conversation about your work as an analyst, you described your feelings about the monotonous nature of your day-to-day tasks. You said, “I have empathy for the process.” I don’t know if you noticed, but you used the same phrase when talking about the slow-and-steady approach you’ve had to take to break into the world of full-time creative work.

Empathy for the process. 

That phrase—that mindset—shows such faith and patience.

You can’t get there without knowing Who you really belong to, Joe.

I pray that the Spirit maintains that in you, my friend. I pray that God protects you from fear and doubt when the trajectory of your vocation feels like a source of chaos—not due to disorder but more because of unknowns. I pray that as you move towards your goal of telling more stories that you hold tight to Jesus, the Greatest Storyteller.

And I pray that the words David wrote in Psalm 16, words you claim as the inspiration behind your creative work, stay rooted in your heart:

“I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Amen, amen, amen.

Grace and peace,

Val

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