I’ve got high hopes and low expectations. Somewhere in the nether realms of HR departments, corporate email systems and who knows where else, there are more than 20 copies of my resume in response to which I’ve not yet received rejection letters. This is both a great blessing and a tremendous curse. Surely I’ll get an interview someplace… eventually. And if I can get a foot in the door, I can get the rest of me in, too… maybe. Everything about these unsure frustrations makes the cons stand out darker than the pros.
Suddenly we’re in April again, and it’s unsurprising yet unbelievable that graduation is little more than a month away. Four more weeks of classes, and four years of classes will be over. I’ve been holding off on using this word, but it’s coasting from here. Considering that my finals should not be hard and the usual semester-end projects don’t even seem bad, I should be delighted. I won’t be graduating cum laude but I’m not painfully far from the 3.5 mark, and thanks to my parents I won’t have any debt hanging over my head. But I don’t have a job. Delighted, indeed. Unemployed and on the fast track to sleeping on the ground is what I am.
And this is how it goes inside my head. I want a good job, so I’ve put a lot of time into digging through listings and churning out cover letters. But ever since the first Thanks For Applying But We’re Not Hiring You, Loser postcard came in the mail, negativity has slunk into the foreground. Reason takes a back seat as each promising listing brings a strange mix of excitement and despair. I’ve worked in the University’s Admissions office for several years and in the web design department for several months. I had an internship with the NBC affiliate in Columbus last summer; I worked for the local government back home before that. For years I’ve made work decisions based on how they would help me find a job after school – now that it’s time to find a job, the only thing I can think about is how pathetic my cover letters sound.
In one clean swing, my faith is cut bare from any fronts or b.s.ing about how level-headed and mature I am. When it comes down to it, I might as well be in sixth grade pretending I don’t mind being picked last for kickball. It doesn’t even take a challenge to knock me down; the imminent threat of one is sufficient. I want a plan. I want a “welcome to the team” handshake and a slip of paper that says my life is in order, and I want it within the next 5 business days. I don’t need a ten year outline or a summer home on the coast, but – come on, God! – May is getting too close for comfort. Part of me says wanting an outline of the next chapter is not so bad. Other parts get the feeling it’s not so good, either.
In its place, prudence is (so far as I can tell) well and good. In place of God, it is not. With a faith that would fit between my thumb and forefinger, the risk of idolatry is magnified something fierce. Too often I am confident only so far as I’ve planned ahead and prepared. Although I think being responsible is one of my better qualities, I’m also noticing that its side effects contribute to my worst shortcomings. Trying to be responsible shares borders with trying to be in control, and somehow control – with no lack of irony – has a way of moving the lines around without bothering to notify us. I think it’s good to strive for responsibility. I think it’s frustrating, selfish, and not glorifying to God to strive for control. I have trouble with taking responsibility to the level of faithless control, as recent events have served to display.
This is one of several things driving me crazy lately. Since I’ve been responsible in preparing for my career and searching for a job, I hope to be employed by graduation. Since I’ve been responsible in preparing for my career and searching for a job, I am aggravated that I haven’t gotten so much as an interview yet. The intentions in my heart seem to be taking swipes at each other: sometimes I work hard trusting that God will provide, but sometimes I work hard in order to provide for myself. Uncomfortable as it is, I can’t in good conscience grump around like a child until things work out the way I want them to. And if I’m going to be honest enough to blame something on myself, I might as well take the next step and ask for the faith to improve.
“If I were hungry, I would not mention it to you,
for all the world is mine and everything in it.
I don’t need the bulls you sacrifice;
I don’t need the blood of goats.
What I want instead is your true thanks to God;
I want you to fulfill your vows to the Most High.
Trust me in your times of trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.”
Psalm 50:12-15 (NLT)