It’s safe to say that I’ve had my share of ups and downs since graduation more than a year ago. I’ve had long periods, up to six months, where I was unemployed with absolutely no work at all. I’ve worked crap jobs that had nothing to do with my career goals like being a cashier in retail and a content writer in marketing-writing about window frames and garage doors. I’ve worked at a daycare for less than a week, unable to handle 3 year old kids screaming as they willingly jumped off of furniture. And there have been the disappointing jobs. Ones I thought were my big break like my freelance journalism job which started with two assignments per week, to per month, to per nothing.
It’s been one hell of an unstable ride. Up until recently, I used to always feel like a failure because of my job-or lack thereof. I would wake up each morning already feeling disappointment and pity for myself. Because ever since High School I had these grand and enormous dreams for myself. They used to be my everything. And then, when I couldn’t meet those dreams and goals it felt like I had nothing left. I felt empty, aimlessly wandering, wondering what now?
In the past few months, I’d say after the year mark of being unemployed or underemployed, I’ve learned a valuable life lesson (or rather God has taught me a valuable life lesson). I’d say it’s the most important one I’ve learned in a long time. Your worth does not derive from what job you have. Your worth does not come from whether or not you reach your dreams.
In life so many things are inconsistent and out of your control, especially in your career. You can get fired, laid off, never get the job you want, work in a field you hate, work just to make a living (which is totally fine), and your dreams can change. You can get the job you thought you wanted only to have your expectations unmet. You can work to keep getting that promotion and finally get there but still feel incomplete, still searching for that validation and satisfaction. You can get all you ever wanted in a job or get nothing from a job and still be sad.
I feel like in the past year that is what God has been showing me. I can not depend my entire life and joy on getting the job that I want or reaching my career goals. Because all of that is inconsistent, ever-changing, and undependable. I can only depend my life on something or rather someone who is never-changing and always there for me, God.
Through my unemployment, I believe God was disciplining me to lay down my idol of having a fantastic career, and turning all of my heart back to Him. Only God can give me a joy that can endure the changing seasons of life. Only God will stand by my side, and always want me as His, completely unaffected by my current job title or career rise/fall.
I used to think that money would buy me happiness, and a great job in writing or journalism would be my security. But money doesn’t buy you happiness and no job is ever 100% secure. I see people with all of the worldly riches they could ever desire. The big house, the nice car, the best school, and still be absolutely miserable. I’ve seen people keep on climbing that career ladder, only to get there and still feel a hole in their heart. Only God can fill that hole. Only God can satisfy your true needs.
But that’s not to say that having a job you love with a good salary is a bad thing. Those in itself are great things. The difference happens when you make that great job and great salary your idols-your only God. I heard a great sermon recently about the first commandment: “You shall have no other Gods before me.” I used to think that the word “before” referred to an order. As if I could have my own gods and idols but just keep God first. But that’s not what it means. The word “before” is referring to before God’s presence, meaning you can only have God as your God.
That may sound limiting but in reality following this commandment is freeing. You don’t have to depend on yourself earning more money or achieving as much as you can, which is exhausting, but instead trust in a God that is bigger than all of that. He is bigger than your current circumstance and all of your future days. When we trust in who God is, how big he is, the smallness of ourselves can find rest and peace.
“Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.” 2 Corinthians, Chapter 3, Verse 10-11
Our hope and content can only be found in God. Only He holds the power to a permanent joy that can withstand the inconsistencies of life. So what does this mean now? Does this mean I shouldn’t go after the job I want with the salary I want?
No, I don’t think it means that. God gave us our passion and our individual talents for a reason. He gave them to us so we can commit our work and personal expression to God. I think the practice of laying down the idol of a job, is to still pursue a career you want but not let it take over your heart or your self-worth. Whether you get the job or not, only God is in control. Only God has the glory to satisfy our deepest desires of being loved.
It’s not an automatic thing though-making God your only God. You have to train yourself to trust God in the unemployment, and devote yourself to God in the employment. It’s tough. A constant battle. But if you’re fighting, and struggling, and working hard to find your worth in the perfect one and only God and not the imperfect, fleeting job title and accomplishment, than you are already winning the battle.
Oh man. I was going to try to limit this post to 7 paragraphs. That definitely did not happen. Lol! Oh well. Thanks for making it to the end if you did! Be sure to follow my blog for updates when I post new things each week. Until next time!