Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lessons from the Unemployment Line

When I started this "journey" over six months ago, I had this idea that I knew what life was all about - that I knew what I was all about.  I thought that all I needed was for a job to come along, a job that would justify my decisions, that would affirm my identity, and that would give me self confidence and fix all the problems in my marriage, my home, my life.  Pretty tall order, huh? All I needed to do was get a job, so I could be the one to provide for my family.  I didn't see it coming, but it all seemed to be a perfect recipe for change.

1. Finding God in Spilled Milk

Ok, so yes - Stay-At-Home Moms have perks.  I've never been able to sleep through the latter half of SVU on the job - but honestly my attitude toward these special ladies has gone through transformation.  There have been times that I loved staying home, being with my kids and experiencing every special moment with them, but I am ashamed to say that there were moments where I lost my identity, my self-control, and was selfish - playing the victim stuck with all of the work.  There were days I sat, not accomplishing anything productive, merely because I had lost my identity.  What is the most common question when you meet someone new? What kind of work do you do? Suddenly, I didn't have an answer to that, when I was teaching I was always proud to say, I'm a teacher - like I was out impacting the lives of my students at every possible moment, like I knew something, like in that statement someone could derive the fact that I was confident, knowledgeable, and an expert in my field.  Worthy of their friendship, attention and praise.  Now, what could I say? Oh - I'm a stay at home Mom - I do diapers, unpopular lunches, spilled milk and tantrums. It was like I could hear what they were thinking about me, because I knew what I was thinking about Stay-At-Home Moms.  I had this idea that they were women who had married wealthy husbands, who were uneducated, women who were able to spend their time shopping, on manicures, and lunch dates with their friends.  I was jealous of their fine homes, lovely Mom cars, and perfectly dressed children. Coming face to face with that ugly prejudice shook me. I was jealous, and I was wrong.  Stay-At-Home Moms sacrifice, giving whatever they have to create the very best life for their children, they build their identities without any affirmation from any "job", and they work as hard as any person who goes to work.  Staying at home with my kids was a blessing that not many get, having the chance to get to know them, and experience the day to day was priceless.  To all my sweet ladies, my Dear Stay-At-Home Moms, you are important, you are treasured.  God has given you such a huge responsibility, and you carry it with grace and compassion. You may never be recognized for all that you do, or promoted to CEO of the house, but you have been given the most important job in the world, and your Heavenly Father lies your identity. Forgive me for not understanding. I understand now, and at the deepest part of me I am sad to leave it behind for now. 

2. Anger Disguised as Victimization is Still Anger...

When I left the job I had at VCS, I was angry.  When I left the job I had at EMA, I was angry.   Neither situation had been "fair", and in both I found myself feeling caged, backed into a corner with no recourse, in the first I'd had a job ripped from me that I had loved because of what other people had done.  I had been forced to choose between what was right and a place where my heart was. I ached for it, like a legitimate loss.  In the second I felt wronged, accused of something that was unthinkable for me, that destroyed my confidence in a job that I loved.  It was easy to be the victim. To sit and cry over all that had happened to me, to blame God for leaving me all alone.  It was easy to believe as I was rejected in job after job that though I was supposed to provide for my family, God wasn't letting me. It just added to my ideas that God had left me all alone.  I couldn't believe it when people said, God has the perfect job out there for you. God loves you. It just added to my belief that it was up to me, and I was all alone.  It was strange to recognize my broken, hurt, bruised feelings of being a victim, as a fierce anger. All because I believed that I wasn't a good teacher, that I wasn't worth a job, and that for all I thought I stood for - I had been proven a fool.  The only thing harder than letting it all go - was realizing that I was angry. It wasn't even a useful anger, it was just deep and festering, feeding on my soul - lashing out at the people I love the most.  Dealing with anger comes out in tears. There have been many tears, but I'm not angry any more.

3.  The End Doesn't Come, Till the Journey is Begun

When I started on this journey I thought I knew the answer. All I needed was a job.  The right job to prove that I was worthy, and boy did I imagine what that meant. It meant a big salary at a prestigious school, it meant an important job at a University, it meant recognition and honor.  All I had to do, was go and get the job that I deserved.  It wasn't until about three or four months into this whole experience that I realized that what I planned, wasn't working out - nor would it ever.  It was realizing that I was waiting for an EVENT to save me, rather than waiting for what God had for me, and he clearly hadn't finished.  So, I started to change, and the letting go was hard, but there was freedom on the other side.  It came in experiences...many experiences, where I had to work to see what God had in it for me.  The most unexpected things - like a new baby, a new pregnancy - pushed me to start to trust, like I never have before.  I am a planner, I like to do things in an orderly fashion,  a mature, and well thought out fashion, and there was more than one time that I called myself irresponsible.  It took something that life altering to make me take notice, to turn to God for answers I didn't have.

4. A New Start 

I think it all came together not even a week ago, when a conversation I had with several people started to sound familiar, started to make sense.  It can be broken down very easily. 
I had to come to a place where I honestly believe that God loves me so much that I need to put myself aside. To realize, God is the provider for my family, not me. If I believe that God is indeed my provider, then he will provide for us, no matter what it looks like.  That providing for my family is out of my hands. There is freedom in that - so much freedom.  It's what gave me the confidence to walk into not one, but two interviews this week, and be offered both jobs. Not because those interviewers saw me, but they saw Christ in me, the confidence and trust I have in him.  It's a new job, a new baby, a new me. Not perfect, not yet, but learning. I look forward to this adventure with Christ in me. 

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