The idea of finding one’s place in the world is certainly one that permeates The Return of the Native, especially for Clym. His job as a jeweler (or diamond merchant if you’re reading a later edition) in Paris came with a bit of prestige. And the one thing his wife and mother agree on is that Clym aught to have a lofty career. Eustacia tries to reason with him,
But it is so dreadful – a furze-cutter! and you a man who have lived about the world, and speak French, and know the classics, and who are fit for what is so much better than this.
Sometimes I feel here the same sentence playing in my head,
But it is so dreadful – a diaper changer! and you a woman who have lived about the country, and has a degree in music, and reads the classics, and who are fit for what is so much better than this.
And that’s when I remember that handy little thing we Lutherans call the Doctrine of Vocation. Quite simply, that we are here to serve others in Christ’s stead. Jesus can’t change my twins’ poopy pants, so instead he put me here to do the job. He also allows me to put His words in people’s mouth by using my degree in music, and to form deep friendships as I read the classics with you.
Clym sought to serve his neighbors on the heath by opening a school that would meet their needs, and when that plan didn’t work he seized the opportunity to provide for his family by cutting down the scrubby bushes and bringing home the bacon. The heath probably enjoyed the trim as well. His work was for the benefit of others, not for his own pride or self-fulfillment.
And unlike Eustacia, I’m really thankful my husband tends the furze we call a lawn.