Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I started this blog as a reflection of my life's journey.  I knew God was leading me into new territories, and I wanted to remember why.  In my experience, most of us have a tendency to forget why we start new things when they get tough.  After a while, I got tired of reflecting and started writing about other things.

Lately, I am back to writing about myself.  At least when I have time to write.  It feels rather narcissistic to go on and on about my self discovery, but writing seems to be the way I process events and emotions.  I rationalize posting this on a blog by telling myself that my experiences may be useful to someone else.  I may be delusional.  I'll think about that possibility another time.

I've never been a very proactive person.  I dream big dreams, but I rarely create plans to achieve them.  I meandered through high school and accidentally discovered a boyfriend while volunteering at a family camp.  I married him after high school.  I worked, took nine years to finish a bachelor's degree, and had kids.  I raised them the best I knew how.  All of these things just sort of happened.

I don't really stretch myself.  I don't take risks.  I don't venture into the unknown.  I like knowing I how something will turn out.

I've had a lot of jobs over the years--and mostly did them well--but I didn't chase after any them.  They found me.

  • I worked at Jack in the Box because my friends worked there and I was pretty sure the manager would give me a job.  
  • I got a job as a bank teller because Duane worked at the bank.  Again, I was pretty sure I could get a job.  
  • I taught French at Clairemont Christian School because the principal heard I spoke French and offered me a job.  
  • I taught preschool French because a French professor got me the job. 
  • I taught preschool gymnastics because the teacher at my kids gym went on maternity leave. 
  • I became a medical transcriptionist when a friend suggested I type some sermon tapes.  I worked hard to learn terms and software, but I never set out to become a transcriptionist.  
  • I started working at the church because Pastor Mike offered me a job.  
I can't remember all the jobs I've held, I know that I didn't really try to get any of them.  I think returning to school for my Masters is one of the first independent, really grown-up things I have done.  In retrospect, my GRE scores and writing samples probably ensured admission, but thinking about how to write an admissions essay caused many hours of lost sleep.  

Every paper, every essay, every assignment completely freaked me out.  I didn't know what was expected.  I had to meet new people, even make new friends.  I had to speak up and allow my professors to get to know me and see how I think.  

Applying to work as a Teaching Associate was terrifying.  I had to ask for recommendation letters and had to write something providing reasons why I would make a great teacher.  As I think back on that time, I realize that I shouldn't have been scared.  I had earned a great reputation in my classes and those professors were the ones making the decision on who to hire.  

Even if applying for school and becoming a TA really weren't all that hard, these two things stretched me and forced me to move beyond the safe and predictable world I've tried to occupy.  I don't like the stretching, to be honest, but I do appreciate the strength and flexibility I've acquired because of it.  I love the new confidence in my abilities.  I'm grateful that I've learned to depend on God's wisdom as I venture into new territory.  

Two years later, I'm done.  And I'm more scared than ever.  I apply for jobs, but don't hear from employers. I try to meet them in their offices, but I can't find them.  I scour Craigslist.  I watch my email, hoping for a note from a prospective employer.  

As if I could magically produce a job by my diligence.  I know it doesn't work that way, but still I persist.  

Yesterday I drove to Southwestern College because I had a tip on possible jobs.  I didn't see the department head I went to see, but a lovely admin called her.  Even finding the admin was sort of a miracle.  I ran into someone who poked his head into the building where I looked for the department head.  I sent off my CV (an academic version of a resumé), and an unofficial copy of my transcript.  The problem here is that my transcript doesn't say "graduate" because I'm waiting for the thesis department to check my formatting, but I don't know when they'll get around to that.  And so I went to our administrative head to ask about a work-around, she sent me to the Graduate Affairs office.  They told me they're happy to write a "letter of completion" as soon as the thesis department checks the formatting.  At least I had an answer.  I returned to our admin's office to thank her, and she walked me into the department head's office and he wrote a note to Southwestern explaining that no matter what my transcripts say, I really am done.  

Whew.  I ended up in tears.  I'm just tired.  

If you followed my description, you can see that God organized events and I got answers I needed, even if I still haven't heard from Southwestern.  Instead of rejoicing in God's direction, I cried. 

God is stretching me again, and I'm worn out.  
I must do everything I can do, but ultimately the results are in his hands.  And I continue to check my email hourly.  Just in case.  

And I realized this morning that I'm not the first person to struggle with looming unemployment.  I don't like it. I still don't like uncertainty.  I don't like not being able to do the things I love more than anything else.  And I'm not the only one who feels like this.  

Sometimes circumstances stretch us even when we're not venturing out into the unknown.  Just like my jobs found me, circumstances find us in the form of illness, marital conflict, rebellious kids, the housing downturn, and the latest stock market crash.  

We choose our responses.  We can stretch and grow and allow God to strengthen us, or we can shut down and give up.  Even now, I could give up my dreams.  I could stop looking for teaching jobs.  I could start looking for some sort of administrative position.  Duane suggested I would be a great Wal-Mart greeter.  

I will not surrender to the circumstances.  I will not let them defeat me.  I would rather find strength in God's power and his promises.  I would rather stretch and grow, allowing God to shape me.

I am grateful for the empathy in my heart growing as I stretch.  I am learning to ask for prayers.  I am letting people see my fear and my frustration.  I don't like it, but I am thanking God for the opportunity to stretch.   

I am also thanking God for answers to prayer.  Answers I don't have yet.  
And I am waiting.  

In full disclosure, I admit I am still staring at my email.  I checked eleven emails and a text while I wrote this blog post.  Two of them were from dear friends who told me they were praying.  

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