In All Things, At All Times, Having All That You Need

A few weeks ago, the university where I teach issued a small standard pay increase for employees. Understandably, any increase is better than the pay freezes we've experienced in years past where our salaries remained entirely stagnant, but it doesn't come remotely close to matching the current high rate of inflation. It also doesn't account for merit. Individuals who did their jobs fabulously and individuals who cut corners received the exact same increase.

Generally, I don't dwell on my salary. I'm fortunate; our needs as a family are met. But on occasion (most notably in late summer or early fall when raise information is distributed), I think more about what I earn. Many new college grads start their careers earning salaries that match (or are higher) than what I make after 22 years of teaching. I ask myself: Is this just the reality of having a career in the liberal arts? Is it the universal plight for non-tenure-line teaching professors?

Then my wondering gets more personal: With over two decades of experience, several teaching awards, and stellar evaluations semester after semester, don't I deserve more?

My focus goes downhill. Instead of being immensely grateful for all the good things (including the basic fact that I'm fortunate to have an education and a job), I feel frustrated. Instead of focusing on how I enjoy my career, love my students, and find my department to be supportive and collegial, if I dwell on salary alone, I feel shortchanged.

I mean, I mostly feel valued. I really do. Just not with with financial compensation, and that's obviously important. So all that leads me to this:

Last weekend as I was putzing in my garage to work on a project, contemplating the meager salary increase without any real appreciation, I realized that I would need a miter saw to cut trim for the project. I Googled "miter saws" to check prices at Lowes and Home Depot. Then, I opened Facebook where I'm part of a Buy Nothing group and immediately noticed that the top post was offering a free miter saw.

The exact minute I realized I needed to use a miter saw -- which happened to be the exact minute I was descending into a mental grumble session about my salary -- was also the exact minute that a random local stranger was offering a free miter saw to anyone who needed it.

Once again, in the strangest of ways, I am reminded of God's incredible, uncanny provision.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8

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