Why I left what was once my dream job


I’ve been at Sports Spectrum Magazine for five years. Those who are closest to me will tell you that a half-decade is a long time for me to be anywhere. My doctor says that I have chronic commitment issues or perhaps just a bad case of being a millennial. I was told that I should get a therapist, so I got three but couldn’t decide on one. I recently used the word “committed” in a conversation with my friend and he almost coughed up his drink. He then asked me to repeat what I said. And then he asked me again. And again. I asked him to stop asking me to repeat the dreaded word. Anyway, I’ve been at Sports Spectrum for five years. I guess you could say I’ve been committed. Also, for the record, I think it’s a beautiful word. In May of this year, however, I told my boss that June would be my final month working at the magazine. It was a difficult decision. But it was also an easy decision. I’m sure you’ve been there. Now, before I go any further, please understand that this essay is not meant to be an extravagant account about my professional transitions. I do not think that people care about such personal details in my life. However, I do think that most can relate to the feeling that they are not in the right place, that feeling of loneliness even when surrounded by people, that feeling of once feeling at home and alive in an environment and then feeling lost and confused, that feeling of being too different to belong. When I was hired by Sports Spectrum in 2011, I often told friends and family that I felt as if I had already landed at my dream job. I remember telling many that I thought I could probably work there the rest of my life. I meant it. I was not being facetious. I felt that my new job lined up perfectly with my faith and my purpose. I had an interesting mindset back then. I had just graduated from college with a degree in Journalism and Bible, and I thought that I had my Christian worldview figured out. I do not think that my arrogance was the college’s fault but was my own fault for thinking that I could figure out something that was so unfathomable as God or the Bible or faith. It pains me to say that I think I hurt a lot of people during that period of my life. I looked down on others who did not believe the same things that I did and was condescending toward some of the people that I loved the most. I had a very small view of God, a limited view of the Christian life, and a dualistic mentality. People were either right or wrong. They were either in or out. Saved or not saved. Luckily for me, I was a white, middle-class Republican who was right, in, and saved—you know, just like Jesus! Ahhh, the benefits of the elect. But then I started learning. Reading. Listening. Exploring. That’s what faith has become to me: a journey of discovery, of never arriving, of stepping deeper into the incomprehensible ways of the Mysterious Other. Those of you who have followed my work might have been able to tell that my back-page column in Sports Spectrum didn’t always fit with the rest of the magazine over the years. My column was called “Another Angle,” after all. Most of the content in our magazine was geared toward a mainline Protestant and evangelical audience. Needless to say, my column was not that. I never wrote to be intentionally provocative. Rather, it is impossible for me not to write about what I am learning, about what makes me feel alive. Once I wrote a column about a gay soccer player whose beliefs were moving and inspiring to me…but once it was printed, I was told that I couldn’t write something like that ever again. An understandable business move, I guess, since we received a plethora of letters, calls, and lost a number of subscribers. We even received a bigoted, low-grade book in the mail about homosexuality. I did not read it. I do enjoy reading people's opinions that are different than my own, just not when those opinions are filled with the undertones of hatred or exclusivity. Sounds too much like Mein Kampf. Another time I wrote a column about my personal re-exploration of Catholicism and a local long-snapper’s encouraging Catholic faith. I received a 2,000-word email littered with Bible verses, explaining to me that Catholics were not saved and that the Vatican is corrupt and that the pope is the anti-Christ or something like that. I read the email and thanked the reader for his thoughts. But I also told him that it seemed like he believed in a very small, formulaic god—and I use a lowercase “g” because I’m a journalist and accuracy is important to me. Now, the disagreements among subscribers did not frustrate me. I love tension. I believe tension is where true learning takes place. It is difficult to learn or to grow or to attain enlightenment whenever your life unfolds in an echo chamber—surrounded by people who reflect the same ideas and opinions as you. But as I continued to venture through my mid-twenties, which I unpack fully in m