February 6, 2009
I found one of my old journals yesterday and was reminded of a very discouraging time in my life. I journal just for this reason—to go back and get a glimpse of the past and see where I have been, what I was going through, and realize how it shapes me today. I have quite a few journals that are scattered throughout purses, drawers, and my closet. Most of them are full because I’ve kept every one I’ve ever written, so you can imagine how many journals and notebooks take over my space considering that I’ve been writing my thoughts and prayers down since I was about 15. Talk about some interesting reads to travel back to the days of high school drama, friendships, and all the fun stuff that comes with growing up. The most interesting part of those journals in particular are the prayers for my “future husband” and even (don’t laugh) my “future kids and grandkids.”
But this was not the time period I am talking about. It was a much more recent journal. One buried deep beneath papers, Kleenex, batteries and other random things I kept in the purse that I took down yesterday morning from my closet to start using again. It was a journal from August 20-September 14 of last year when the poor economy forced my former boss to let some people go—me being one of them. I wish I could say that I was let go with something to get me through the next month or so, but it just so happened to be payday when it happened, and that was that. I quickly regretted saving up my vacation time. I was angry; I was annoyed by the irresponsibility; and most of all, I was hurt. However, I was graceful in my departure because I knew it was something difficult for everyone, including my bosses who were always so giving and encouraging to me while I was there. They are great people but were just faced with a series of unfortunate events, and I can completely understand that.
This was such a dark moment in my life. I had done everything that I thought I needed to do to be "successful"—make good grades in my advertising and mass comm classes, establish good relationships with my professors, lead the creative team in our final semester, win awards, work two internships in my field, and get hired right out of college. So when all this “work” came crashing down in the midst of a sorry economy, I hit bottom. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t talk about it to anyone except to Joel—with anyone else, I was as short as possible and had rehearsed the words to say, so I wouldn’t break down and embarrass myself. Otherwise, they would be gathering Kleenex because of my hysteria. Texts, facebook messages, and emails during that time meant so, so much to me. I was annoyed with myself that I couldn’t talk about it or “share my burden,” but every time I tried, it was just too hard, and fighting back the tears was just painful. It was probably one of the most humbling experiences in my lifetime so far. I kept thinking, “I’m too young for this to happen to me,” "Joel's still in school...we won't be able to pay our bills," “I’m too weak to get out there again,” “ I don’t have enough experience or talents,” and other irrational lies that I could conjure up to soak in my misery. I knew they were lies, but it didn’t stop me from feeding into them or writing about it in my journal. Joel was my steady hand reminding me of God’s promises and who I was in Christ. He did this daily, and I’m so grateful that I had him by my side to constantly pour truth into my life. His encouragement, prayers, and the way he comforted me made me fall even deeper in love with him than I already was.
I took exactly a month. A month of waking up early and not even taking a break to eat—it became my obsession. I felt that if I wasn’t doing something productive that would get me closer to finding a job, then I was being wasteful with my time. Finding a job became my job from 7-5. It took two weeks to get unemployment benefits because as luck would have it, Gustav decided to blow through town during the most annoying time in my life. How was I supposed to find a job with no electricity? The timing was frustratingly ironic, but it forced me to breathe. Thankfully, I sent out another batch of cover letters and resumes before the storm hit—and that was settling. I knew it wasn’t in my hands, and I had applied to every ad or job posting that I could possibly find.
I went on several interviews, some better than others, and with each one I grew more confident. I was offered a position with another advertising agency, which I accepted after some negotiation. Then I got the call for an interview from LSU. I hesitated to go since I already accepted a job very similar to what I was already doing, but it still didn’t offer benefits or vacation time (only after a year). Joel and I decided that I should at least go and see if it was something that I would enjoy doing. Looking back, I can’t believe that I would have given it a second thought. After the interview, I knew I wanted it. It didn’t take long before they called and offered me the position. I almost dropped the phone in the middle of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and I know I made a scene as I called Joel to tell him the good news. The job was exactly what Joel and I had been praying for—a job that allowed me to be more creative, a job that I felt was mine and wasn’t shared, where lines were drawn and I knew my responsibilities, a job where we would have benefits (for the first time), a higher salary than before (since we had to dip into savings), and retirement (another first). The extras like having my own office with a window, a new building to work in, amazing co-workers, the latest design programs on my computer desktop, my own work laptop, and great vacation time were just God showing off.
It’s always so easy to look back and think “what was I so worried about?” but after reading the journal again, it brought me back to where I was while writing it. I knew I would be taken care of, but I was fearful of what His plans were. Was I going to compromise or be miserable in a new job that I wasn’t familiar with until He sent the perfect job my way? Was I going to be looking for months on end to build perseverance and patience before I got the perfect job? I’m so thankful that His plans were immediate and that He orchestrated the best job I could ever have imagined being so fresh out of college. He knew I wouldn’t have left my old job unless something dramatic happened. I was too comfortable, but He knew I wasn’t deeply happy—like I am now. However, even if this job comes and goes, I can rest in the fact that He carried me through it and will do it again throughout the rest of my life. My joy does not lie in what I do for a living, but it lies in Who I live for.
Here are some verses that spoke to me and were referenced in my journal as well as one that I found later (I italicized the parts that particularly comforted me):
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.
2 Peter 1
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.