I was a senior in college. The end of my fall semester brought many common things for that time: wondering about my future, mostly. And then I decided to leave advertising.
As an advertising major, heading into my final semester of school, taught by a leading expert in a particular genre of advertising, and identified as a leading student in the program. I gave it up. I walked away. I finished the program, knowing I would never work in advertising.
The catalyst was an assignment about testimonial ads–they didn’t have to be true, they just had to be possible. It didn’t sit right. I justified my decision saying I didn’t want to be in an industry where that was standard. I realized tonight, though, the truth was deeper than I could understand at the ripe old age of 22. After all, advertising hadn’t changed. I had always known what it could be, the pitfalls and the terrors. Like any industry, advertising has its dark side.
What I realized tonight was the real reason I left. Not for their ethics, but for mine. The reason I was a leading student in the program was that I could justify anything and I could convince you to believe the same thing I believed.
I didn’t leave advertising because of the industry. I left it because of me. My personality is one strong in strategy and achieving. Combined with my abilities at justification, deep down, I was afraid of who I would become in an effort to get ahead. I was afraid of my own desire for validation, success, and how I could so easily slip into justifying my own actions for the sake of getting ahead.
I couldn’t possibly know that at the time, but now I see it. I see so clearly how these past years would have been different had I not left. I see how that decision, that transforming decision, shaped my adult life.
And I see the underlying current of my decisions since. I am a talented college instructor, but I choose to avoid my own field. My focus lasers in on whatever I research–and with a doctorate in a field only offered at research universities, I shy away from spending 60% of my working hours researching that field.
I desperately want what I do to matter. I want truth to be truth–not some academic fabrication of how I can use certain authors to justify certain conclusions or change just a couple authors to use the same data to reach a completely different conclusion.
I want truth to be truth.
So I study the Bible. I believe God’s Word is truth. I believe it was written as a spiritual guide for our temporal and eternal existence. And I believe it gives perspective where none other can.
I am afraid of my own brain. On nights like tonight, when so many possibilities and would-haves and could-haves rustle around looking for someplace to settle in my mind, God shakes that all out. He gives perspective that even my brain cannot win against in an argument.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:9, NKJV
Praise God His thoughts are bigger than mine. I thank Him that He is smarter than I. I praise Him for knowing the end and the beginning and all the middle parts. I praise Him for making my brain make (some) sense (sometimes).
And I praise Him that even when I cannot bring scattered thoughts into line, He says,
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV
Peace not only guards my heart. It guards my mind too. It calms the raging sea of thoughts. It brings to balance what I cannot understand with the perspective that one day, one glorious day, it will all make sense.
That is what I hang on to. That promise of peace. I need not fear what my brain can do when it is submitted to the will and the power of God, through the forgiveness of Jesus, by the comforting power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen, and amen.