I am unemployed at the moment. Being unemployed is like being on a vacation you didn’t want to go on and can’t afford. All the time you used to spend working is now spent applying, stressing out, applying some more, writing cover letters, sending emails, updating and printing resumes, napping, being depressed, and applying even more. When you get past a certain age, and it’s different for everyone, a switch goes off, one that makes your mindset seem foreign to those who haven’t experienced it. When I was younger, the last thing I wanted to do was work for a living, mostly because it seemed to be a tedious existence. My free time was what I valued the most, and in the a few times in my life where I had little responsibility, I reveled in it. But then something changed, and I realized my past mindset was one of lazy selfishness. Needing money to do things was also one of the biggest motivators, but the point is, I can’t sit idle and waste time like I used to. It makes me feel as though I’m contributing nothing to the world. Anyone who has wasted a day knows what I’m speaking of, the sinking feeling deep in your gut of shame and laziness. I hate feeling it.
There are certain stages one goes through whenever he loses his job. Sometimes these can happen all within the span of an hour, over the course of weeks or months, and sometimes both in a repeating cycle.
I am often introverted in my thinking. I can be very outgoing whenever I am in a comfortable environment, but I believe at my core I’m introverted. I think the more accurate term for me would be what comedian Mike Meyers called himself: a sight-specific extrovert. I find that to be a beautiful description for some reason. I live a lot inside my own head, and it affects things in both negative and positive ways. One of the biggest negatives is whenever I get down, my mind will make it worse and it will touch everything, including my spiritual life. One of the biggest difficulties I have is choosing joy and staying true to Christ no matter the circumstances. It is something I have to constantly fight against, and more often than not I fail.
It’s in those moments where I’m struggling where I ask myself why things get that way. Two obvious ones are of course the lack of reading scripture and prayer, and those are two vital things to my walk I must always be constantly improving on. But today I realized there’s a third thing adding to my difficulty: I desire to please people too much, in everything. I confess that I’ve written many things hoping to receive affirmation from people on how well I write, how insightful I was, that I was smart and I had it all together. The truth of the matter is I’ve never had even half of my life together. I’m just as or even more flawed than most people. I struggle with cynicism. Often I question people’s motivation. Sometimes I’m more quick to judge others than I am to examine myself. It bothers me and I am always asking God to renew me in these areas, and it’s a daily process of sanctification.
I was reading the Gospel of John today (admittedly for the first time in a while), and I came across a verse I’d never seen before. This fact alone is a testament to my need to read more consistently, but I’d wager many haven’t noticed it. It’s easy to miss. In John 5:41 Jesus says “I do not receive glory from people.” If I was going to attempt to paraphrase this, basically Jesus is saying, “Your validation means nothing to me”, and this struck me because I often forget how radical and sometimes abrasive Jesus was to people. I’m not saying he was rude, I firmly believe everything he said and did (including calling the religious leaders hypocrites and a “brood of vipers”) was motivated by love, but what I’m seeing is that one of the most important things to Christ was his Father’s approval. Immediately after realizing this I was deeply convicted about where my mind has been at for many periods of my life, and that place was basically one where God’s validation was the last thing on my mind.
I know and believe God loves me without question, but sometimes my mind and subsequently my actions don’t live and abide in that truth. There are moments where I care more about what others think of me more than honoring God. What does this have to do with not having a job? Maybe God is trying to show me right now that I can’t live for the affirmation of others and honor him at the same time. I believe God allows situations and circumstances into our lives to make us uncomfortable and to challenge us into abiding in him, and maybe this is what this jobless season is. Who knows? He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.