Maneuvering Library Relationships

Maneuvering relationships with my coworkers in the library is an interesting task. Some of them are very easy to get along with, very encouraging, very helpful, and generally happy people. But others, not so much. I know of a few who have generally bad attitudes. It’s not that they’re mean people, not by any means, but they default to a pessimistic view of everything. I’ve decided that if I want to know about something within the library world, I should go to two people: one to get the optimistic view and another to get the pessimistic view. That way, I get both sides of the story and can then make up my own mind about the situation.

Since relationships in an organization like this are so important to having a successful career here (i.e., tenured faculty have a say in whether or not I get tenure, and even if my tenure dossier looks very impressive, if I don’t get along with the people here, then I won’t get tenure), managing those relationships is crucial. I make it a point to stop in at the research assistance desk and just shoot the breeze with whomever is sitting there so that I can get to know a wide range of people. Actually, that is my goal for this year, and I wasn’t that great at it last semester. I’ve decided I’ll just go by and whoever is there, I’ll sit and talk for a few moments, if they have time. Generally, people are amenable to that.

I am also doing alot to maintain relationships I built while a student in SIS. I am collaborating with some of my previous professors and am hosting a practicum student this semester. That builds goodwill from the academic side of the coin. I am sure I’ll need their support in some way in the future, so best to cultivate those relationships now when I don’t really need the favors. Then, when I do, it won’t look contrived.

I am also cultivating relationships to others outside my school, too. Part of the tenure decision is recommendation letters from others in my field outside of UT. I am not sure how many I will need, but I want to have alot of support when that time comes. I have developed relationships with some prominent people in my field, even while I still a student. For example, Jake Carlson, from Purdue University, is someone who anyone with any knowledge of the data curation world would recognize as a “heavy-hitter.” I reached out to him while still a student and asked him questions about some of this work. He was very nice to respond and offer advice to a student. I’ve since been able to meet him and some of his colleagues at Purdue. I also reached out to another person I consider a heavy-hitter, Andrew Sallans. I think I emailed him or Sherry Lake at UVa and asked if they had any advice for someone wanting to get into their line of work. I wanted to know what I could do to encourage UT to get moving and get their data curation stuff started so I could eventually work here.

Thankfully, it worked out the exact way I imagined it would. I know God was in that process all along. Otherwise, how could it have worked out so well? It look alot of faith on my part, though, because I had to wait on him to provide the job he told me he would give me, all while getting job offers at other universities and declining the offers. Thinking back on that time, I am sure it looked stupid to pass up on job opportunities, but I had a promise from God. It came one day when I was freaking out over my job situation, asking myself, what am I to do? Why am I passing up on these opportunities? I could end up with nothing in the end! Then, as though he were standing in the room next to me, God said, “Chris, you asked me for the job at UT. Now, stop worrying and let me do my thing.” That was a huge, big deal to me. I felt like that was his way of saying, “Sit tight and I’ll give you UT.” Don’t think that completely eliminated the freak outs, because it certainly didn’t, but it gave me something to hang onto when I was feeling freaked out. I just remembered that word and pushed through it, because of the promise. It’s almost like Abraham being called to leave his land and go to a place where God would show him. God didn’t tell him where to go, just to go. In this case, God didn’t tell me which job he would give me, but just to wait. It turned out to be the one I really wanted, but I never knew it would be until the day UT offered me the job.

Back in the Fall, Elizabeth and I had a party, which we called “God is Always Faithful Party.” It was to be a celebration of how God is faithful, even though he did not, and still has not, given us a child as we desire so much. I am not sure it will ever come, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t faithful. In that party, I spoke a bit about how if God had not given met he promise of UT, then we’d be living in Providence, Rhode Island right now. Brown University in Providence was the first one to offer me a job about this time last year. I declined, because I knew God was working on something better for me. It wasn’t easy though. He is still faithful and will give us the things we need. Sometimes what we want and what we need coincide, like they did with my WANT for a job at UT. He gave it to me. But our WANT for a child has not been fulfilled yet. I am not convinced that he will never give us a child, but I am convinced that he has decided that now is not the right time. When he decides is the right time, we will get the child, no sooner or later. The child may come naturally, or it may come through adoption, or it may not come at all. Just because we want something doesn’t mean he must give it to us. But even then, he doesn’t do it to hold out on us or to punish us. He has the best in mind for us. One of God’s words to Elizabeth through this whole time is “God, in his infinite mercy, knows the timing of everything.” We wondered why he said “mercy” and not “wisdom.” It finally came to me: “God is merciful, and by making us wait for a child, it is his mercy that is motivating it. All we can assume is that if he gave us a child now, it would not be the merciful thing to do, so we wait.” I can’t answer why it is this way, but it is.

It’s funny how topics can change over the course of a post. I started this post talking about navigating relationships with my coworkers and I ended up talking about God’s mercy and providence in our lives. Apparently, I really needed to talk about that and I’m really glad I did. It was very therapeutic expressing it all again because I have not thought about it much over the last few months. I am glad he reminded me about his promised. I love Elizabeth so much, God, and to me a mother would give her so much joy. Please provide the child we’ve wanted. I want it now more than I ever did. I know you will prepare us (as much as you can be prepared) to be parents. I don’t have to be afraid. I am ready. (This is also new to me! Apparently, I needed to say that, because it’s causing a few tears to swell up.) I think this is enough writing for one day. Now, I’m going to make some coffee.

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