Tag Archives: job hunting

Boot Camp

May 15, 2011

On this day last year, I found myself unemployed.  The church that had funded my full-time ministry determined that it could no longer carry the financial burden of the number of employees it had.  The leaders decided to downsize by 25%.  Although I felt that God had been preparing my heart for the change for nearly a year prior to the layoff, I was stunned.  I had not imagined the change would come in that form.  Surely what God had planned was tremendous blessing without any pain, right? 

The swirl of emotions that followed was not unusual, but it was difficult.  I have wrestled with feeling like a failure, rejection and fear.  God sustained me during the worst of the down times.  I had a sense of peace in the middle of the storm that I could only attribute to His presence.  My emotions were reeling, but as long as I kept my eyes on Jesus, the storms soon passed and I was able to keep my peace.  Instead of being swallowed up by the negative emotions, I allowed myself to feel them, gave them to the Lord, and moved on.  That is one of the best testimonies I could ever give to the faithfulness of my Father.  With the wind and rain pounding around me, I was sheltered, safe and secure in His arms. 

There is another very tangible blessing that I see as I look back over this year.  As a single woman, no one else is here to help me carry my financial responsibilities.  No, I don’t have a family to support, but I also have no one supporting me.  I had barely scraped by while I worked full-time at the church.  I had no idea how I was going to make it without my salary.  With no choice but to trust God as my provider, He proved to me that I was not alone after all. 

I was given six weeks’ severance pay.  I felt in my heart that God would provide a new job and I didn’t need to hit the pavement, searching high and low.  But I didn’t want to completely freak my family and friends out by not applying for jobs, so out of respect for them I applied and applied and applied.  I sent out hundreds of resumes and I didn’t get one interview.  Not one. 

During that time, I needed to buy new ink for my printer.  That stuff is expensive!  I sat in my desk chair, looking online at prices, looking at my bank account balance and the bills coming in, and not knowing what to do.  I had the money to buy the ink, but with no more money coming in I was afraid to spend it.  I needed the ink.  As I wrestled with what to do, I felt like God said, “Get what you need.  Whatever you spend will be covered.”  I knew with certainty that this wasn’t a license for irresponsibility, but that God would take care of what I needed.  I spent the money for the ink and the next day a man at church handed me the amount I had spent.

My family had scheduled a vacation to the beach around the time my severance was ending.  I hadn’t committed to it because I thought I’d be starting a new job and wouldn’t have the vacation time.  But as the days neared and I still had no job and money was running out, my prayers grew louder.  I continued to hear God’s voice assuring me that it would be okay.  I felt like He told me to go on the vacation, enjoy myself, not worry about work, and He would take care of everything.  He wanted to bless me with the vacation.  I went.  As I drove to the beach that hot, summer day, I played a song over and over in my car – What’d you say to taking chances?  What’d you say to jumping off the ledge?  Never knowing if there’s solid ground below, or a Hand to hold… 

I took a chance on trusting God, gave up the job search, and thoroughly enjoyed my family.  On about the fourth day of the trip, my fear took over and I allowed myself a pity party.  Of course, I missed out on a really fun day with my family while I sat alone and sulked!  I picked myself up that afternoon and placed my fears back into God’s capable hands.  On the final day of vacation, I prayed all the way back to Nashville, begging God to intervene. 

A few days after I got home, I went to a friend’s house to hang out.  As we talked, she mentioned that her nanny/housekeeper was unavailable.  She shrugged her shoulders and asked me if I’d want to help her out.  I’d helped with her kids before and loved them, but had never considered making a job out of it.  I didn’t need to pray about it.  I quickly answered, Yes, please.  She told me what she paid and the hours she needed.  I agreed.  It was extremely part-time – 13 hours a week – but it was something. 

That was my job interview.  That job soon turned into about 20 hours a week – a low-stress, physical job where I get to care for 5 beautiful children who I adore.  Besides that, I get to help out a good friend with her home.  Ministry just took on a new meaning. 

God also provided a new living situation for me.  I moved in with an elderly woman who needs someone to be present overnight to help her out a little.  Free of typical housing expenses, I had enough money to pay my bills if I lived very frugally. 

It seemed that every time an expenditure came up that wasn’t within my budget, someone would hand me the money I needed or I’d get an extra babysitting job.  I have not had one bill go unpaid.  I worked approximately 20 hours a week for six months and in that time I continued to repay debt as scheduled, and I had everything I needed. 

As I was only working part-time, I had a lot of time to nurture the new relationship that sprung up unexpectedly.  I spent hours every night on the phone with my new love interest, received visits from him, visited him, and didn’t have to miss work to do so. 

My family was concerned about how I would continue to survive financially and urged me to apply for anything I could find so I could have at least another part-time job.  I prayed about it and spoke to my boyfriend about it, asking what he thought.  Together we decided that I needed to be free to travel throughout the holidays (he and all of my family are located in different areas of the country), so I would hold off on finding a second job until after Christmas.  In January, I could start looking. 

I worried about how I’d afford Christmas presents for my loved ones.  (I love giving gifts!)  Because of all the holiday parties and events, I was needed to care for the children on nights and weekends.  The extra hours provided all the money I needed to buy gifts.  I felt so blessed. 

Right before I left for Christmas vacation, I got an email from the church, asking if I would consider a part-time job at the receptionist desk.  Although I was over-qualified, they knew I needed additional income.  I was able to work out the schedule and left for Christmas knowing my financial needs had again been met.  While on Christmas break, my friend asked if I wanted more hours at her house.  She is pregnant again and needed some extra help.  Between the two jobs, I suddenly had 40-hours a week, plus free living expenses.  When I added up the income of the jobs and added in what I was saving in living expenses, I’d gotten a raise! 

Over the last several months, I’ve been able to pay extra on my debt and I even put a little money in an emergency fund.  I still have 3 days off each week, so travel arrangements are fairly easy to accommodate.  And the home I’m living in now has separate guest quarters that make it possible for Rick to stay here when he visits and still have his own space. 

I am thankful.  My God has supplied my needs.  He has given me peace.  He has brought romantic love into my life and the joy that comes with feeling loved and accepted by someone I love and treasure.  God has allowed me the dignity of seeing my debt go down, down, down, and my savings go up.  And God is putting me through a new school these days – that of learning how to run a large household and care for many children.  I now know things I could have never learned in books – like how to put a gleam in the eye of a child who feels a little left out.  I’d like to think I know why He is putting me through this training, but I have discovered that what God does is never quite what I thought He was doing.  He is sneaky.  And while there are times that I feel rubbed raw by the hands that are shaping my life, I am delighted by the outcome. 

I asked God to put me through a sort-of boot camp, quickly teaching me the things I need to know to get where I’m going faster.  Quit dragging it out a little at a time, Lord, and just give it all to me at once.  As long as it’s by Your hand, I’ll be okay.  I can handle it.  I knew it was a dangerous prayer.  I knew I might have times where I really regretted it.  And there have been times where I’ve cried out, Enough!  I didn’t know what I was asking.  Please stay Your hand for a minute so I can catch my breath.  But He is so faithful to me.  He gives such grace.

I see this last year of my life as that boot camp.  God has humbled me, then humbled me again, and then humbled me again.  He has shown me clearly that I can do nothing without Him, and that my pride (I didn’t know it was such a problem) is an offense to Him.  He has proven to me that He will not give His blessing until I put Him first.  And yet He has given me such joy and hope as I explore the beauty of romance. 

…He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.  (Isaiah 61:3)

One year later, I stand in awe of the blessing of the Lord.  Thank You, Jesus. 

Psalm 63: 5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

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And So the Story Goes, Part 5

In spite of my big award, I did not yet have a job to go to upon graduation.  I had been job hunting since the beginning of the year with all the skills I had learned and my beautiful résumé.  I was saddened to find that many ministry job postings literally said things like “the ideal candidate for this job is male and married.”  I wanted to be a Small Groups Pastor and applied for those types of positions, but didn’t even get an interview for one.  In spite of the fact that I grew up in church offices and had extensive volunteer church experience, I had never worked on a church staff and that was another black mark against me.  Young, single, female, and inexperienced, I was not anyone’s ideal candidate.

I was completely open to go anywhere God called me to go.  I applied for jobs all over the country and considered overseas missions work.  I still really wanted to return to Nashville, but I had learned my lesson about telling God what I would and would not do.  I didn’t even ask Him if I could go back to Nashville.  I just kept looking everywhere I could. 

Moses and I moved in with my sister and her husband for a few weeks, but they were newlyweds and not excited about my cat, so I knew I needed to find another temporary place to stay.  My old roommate in Nashville was going out of town for the summer and offered to let me and Moses stay at her house while she was gone, rent free.  In fact, she offered to let us stay with her until I found a permanent position.  I missed my friends and my church in Nashville, so I decided to go back and enjoy my time there for as long as I could. 

I had done an internship at my church in Nashville the summer before with the Director of Women’s Ministries.  She had supported me during seminary by allowing me to interview her for course work, praying for me, and staying in touch.  When I did my internship with her, I had a tiny office in a far corner away from the rest of the church staff.  Any hopes I had of impressing the senior pastor or other church leaders were quickly dashed.  I spent four weeks there and never saw the senior pastor one time outside of the pulpit on Sunday mornings.  I worked closely with the Women’s Director during that time and I learned a lot from her.  She mentioned wanting to hire me, but explained that she could not get an additional position approved. 

When I returned to Nashville during the summer of 2006, she took me aside and told me that God had granted her favor with the church leadership and she thought it was possible that she could get me a job in Women’s Ministries at the church.  I didn’t really want to work in Women’s Ministries and questioned the type of job it would be, but she was insistent.  I seriously doubted that it would work out and didn’t put too much faith in what she said.  She asked me to have patience with her.

I found out several months later that she and the widowed senior pastor had become romantically involved!  I was shocked at the news and didn’t believe it at first, except it explained why she suddenly had favor with the church leadership.  Over a period of several months, it became clear that she and the senior pastor would get married and she would eventually need to be free from her current position.  The story is long and convoluted, but in essence, here is what happened:  In December, 2006, I was hired to help the transition go smoothly and in January of 2007, I became the Director of Women’s Ministries. 

In July of 2008, the senior pastor retired and the associate pastor took over his position.  The staff was reorganized and I became the Community Groups Minister.  I still maintained my position with Women’s Ministries, but have also been working to build a small groups ministry in the church since that time. 

In addition, a member of one of the women’s Bible studies that I led last summer turned out to be the head of a Christian publishing house in town.  She contacted me to write articles for a book series she publishes.  Through that relationship, I’ve now had the privilege of being published twice and am working on a third article for the latest book.  She also gave me a part time job as a contributing editor.  My dream of becoming a published author has already come true. 

When I consider what God has done for me – allowing me to return to the place I love, allowing me to work with small groups and create a new ministry, giving me a wonderful church home, and so much more – I stand in awe.  Life is not perfect, but I am blessed. 

Many difficult and troubling things have also happened during the years I have just finished describing, but this is my testimony of the good things God has done for me.  My life is not charmed, and God has tested me many times along the way.  I have often been frustrated, sad, hopeless, and felt very alone.  But this one thing I know – I purposed in my heart to be obedient to God and to give Him all that I have.  In return, He has given me tremendous blessings. 

God has not yet provided a husband for me, but He has filled my life to overflowing with the best of friends and a true church family.  He has taught me that He is the lover of my soul.  He is the One who truly satisfies.  No human love could ever bring me peace and joy like the love I feel from Him.  I have peace, knowing that God will continue to provide for me and make a way where there seems to be no way.  On this day, June 29, 2009, I am not dating anyone.  I am, however, completely wrapped up in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Any man who wants to come into my life in that way will have to be so full of God that together we are better than we could be apart.

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