How do I conduct myself properly at work while I’m single and waiting to get married someday? I’ve learned great work morals from my home, such as being dutiful and hard-working, etc. But, I work in the social and healthcare field and I’ve become quite cynical about trying to fix other people’s problems and overly care for them while they continue to live destructively, which seems to be the government-imposed mentality in every workplace of that field.
My skills and personal qualities such as conscientiousness and empathy would be valuable in raising a family but exhausting when I try to make a living out of them. I’m struggling daily not to quit my job because it feels so futile when I should and want to be raising a family with a husband. The strength of this desire scares me because I don’t want to become an irresponsible and impulsive person. Please, lend me some of your ancient Jewish wisdom on this matter.
We would like to separate two parts of your dilemma. We are hearing more and more from people in the healthcare field who are burning out. They entered the profession wanting to help people and too often are feeling used, abused and drained. This answer isn’t the place to list the flaws in the system, but everyone should be concerned when an increasing number of dedicated and hard-working doctors, nurses, and other medical and social-service providers are looking to get out of medicine. Many of these individuals spent numerous years training for their fields and instead of finding satisfaction in their work, they, like you, are becoming cynical and disheartened. (Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone, but it is a growing reality.)
At the same time, you are hoping to move forward in your personal life and establish a family with a good, loving man. It is quite frustrating, especially for goal-oriented, hard-working people, not to be able to control this area of life. We trust that God has your match in place and, while you do need to make your efforts, there is a limit to what you can do.
These two problems intersect as the more distrustful of people you become and the more your heart hardens, the less you have to offer the right man. You do not feel that your work is accomplishing anything, leaving you without energy and vigor. Your work is not nourishing your soul.
We are sure, Maria, that you have a great deal to offer. We are also sure that there are people who need and would be grateful for your skills. We would like to encourage you to look for a new job. There are so many areas of healthcare and social work and we are sure you can find one that fits you better. It is amazing how God made us each different. Some of us thrive in helping children, others in dealing with geriatric patients. Treating those with addictions is where some therapists flourish while others do best working with those with chronic illnesses. We know oncology nurses who wouldn’t want to work in any other specialty and social workers who blossom working in prisons. Others with similar training can’t imagine doing that type of work.
You asked for some ancient Jewish wisdom and here it comes: A change of location often brings other welcome changes as well. Abraham’s life didn’t really launch until he relocated—Genesis 12*. Jacob, likewise, found his mission and his family once he relocated – Genesis 28:10*. Each of these relocations starts a new section in an accurate Hebrew Bible. If you should be fortunate enough to find a good job in which you could be more fulfilled, the serenity you will radiate there would be highly attractive to a potential partner.
It goes without saying that if economic circumstances are such that switching jobs is potentially harmful, then clearly now is not the time to do so.
In the meantime, keep a journal noting the patients (even if they are not the majority of those you meet), whom you felt privileged to help. Know that even when you are not aware, your smile and caring may mean a huge deal to someone. You may never know the value of any act you do at work. Cultivate areas outside of work so that you grow spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Perhaps try and find a worship environment that seems to attract happily married young couples. Associate there and befriend a few couples. They know single friends and will help you immerse yourself into a new life filled with potential. Just remember you are interested in meeting only men, not boys.
Wishing you a beautiful future home,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
*References in our recommended Hebrew/English Bible
Genesis 12- p. 30, nine lines from the bottom
Genesis 28:10 – p. 82, five lines from the top
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