This will probably date me, but when I first went away to college, becoming an FBI agent wasn’t even something I could aspire to as a woman. Sure, by the time I graduated four years later the Bureau had female agents – a handful, maybe – but my life was already on a different trajectory.
I was and still am energized by people and I wanted to do something creative, so I went into advertising and public relations. But early on I realized that writing car commercials and walking hospital corridors with circus clowns wasn’t going to do it for me.
I turned my attention to a career in law enforcement where I believed I could make a lasting impact. The application process was intense but when I finally landed at the FBI Academy as a new agent trainee, I felt like I had made the ultimate team. Because I had.
It was a dream job and yes, truly a creative outlet in many ways. (Oh, man, the stories.) Without a doubt, becoming an FBI agent was the best thing that had ever happened to me up to that point. I’ll always be grateful God made it possible for me to live that life.
Fast forward 20+ years and I was approaching retirement (FBI agents retire young, I feel compelled to point out) and considering what I should do next. By then I was a single mom and my daughter was looking ahead to college.
The idea that God had an individual will for every Christian was deeply ingrained; I assumed God must have a specific “second act” in mind for me that would honor Him and provide for us in a unique way. I thought I just needed to find that one plan, that next step God had prepared just for me.
I talked to a lot of smart people and read everything I could get my hands on. I was convinced that if I was going to successfully “navigate the exhilarating and potentially dangerous shoals of midlife” (Bob Buford, Halftime), I would have to do something completely different. I could never recreate the experience of being an FBI agent.
I over-thought the heck out of it and even though I sincerely wanted to please God, He never did reveal that single path He wanted me to follow.
You know why? It didn’t exist.
I believe now that He was leaving it up to me to choose. As long as my decision didn’t conflict with the commands He had given me in His Word, He was going to be pleased and would continue to bless me. Still, it was very frustrating because at the time, I didn’t get that.
Ultimately, I chose to be self-employed as an investigator/security consultant. Was it the “best and only” thing God had in mind for me to do? The bull’s eye of His will, so to speak? I doubt it, since I no longer think God limits us that way. But it certainly was a great option.
I was able to set my own schedule, do a job well with people I respected, and put my daughter through college without refinancing my house. God was honored. (I believe He would have been equally honored had I chosen a different path, as long as it was consistent with His moral guidelines.)
Now I come to another crossroads. As Muhammed Ali once said, “I’m retiring because there are more pleasant things to do than beat up people”. This time around I can enter what author Mark Buchanan describes as “The Holy Wild” with confidence. I don’t know exactly how it will all turn out, but I’ve walked with God long enough to know I can trust His character. I’ll cling to His goodness and rest in the freedom He has given me to choose my own path within the guidelines of His revealed will.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally leave the law enforcement arena completely and do something really different. I was thinking mule wrangler . . .