Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Am I Really Seeking?

Most people do not know about this since I did not make a huge deal over it, but I had a rather unexpected event occur last Tuesday. I received a phone call from a social services organization here in town whom I had sent my resume to for an employment position they were advertising on their website. The position sounded close to ideal in regard to the description of responsibilities which comprise this counseling-related position. I was eager to apply, not only because I so often fall short of any such positions due to my educational status, but also because of how unlikely I knew it would be to receive a phone call from such a large organization. But, to my complete surprise, a lady from the department which focuses on families and children called me in for an interview. I couldn't possibly turn it down, so I quickly accepted the invitation and then ran downstairs to tell my husband. He began asking me questions about expected hours, pay, and about the actual job description. I began to get really heated and rather than simply answer his questions, all very practical and important ones to consider, I immediately thought to myself, "Can't he just be excited that I've been asked to this interview for a position related at least in part to the field I want to be in? Can't he just let me be happy about the possibility of having this job title on my resume so much sooner than I was anticipating?" He very carefully and patiently (yes, he is more often the patient one in this marriage) explained to me why he was being cautious, and also why he was concerned about me jumping at the chance to work a job for which the hours would be 1:00-9:00pm. Oh, and did I fail to mention that the offices are located right in the heart of downtown? My husband was concerned about me walking to my car after dark in the middle of downtown, but why couldn't he just be excited for me?? If you haven't detected the pattern of thought yet, this conversation I was so frustrated about was focused on one thing: me.

I went ahead and attended the interview on Thursday in order to gain more detailed information and to see if taking such a position would be worth the sacrifice in regard to the hours and pay (equivalent to what I am making at my current job). My feelings upon leaving the interview did not give me anymore confidence that taking the position would be worth having the title on my resume of employment experience, even though she concluded the interview asking me if I would attend a departmental interview a few days later. What I heard in the initial interview ended up sounding more like a glorified receptionist rather than someone who might be able to assist in working with families and children in a more direct, relational manner. I knew that I obviously would not be responsible for actual counseling considering I have neither the educational nor license requirements to enable me to, but I was definitely expecting more than what was described to me. I also asked the lady if there was any chance of a daytime shift opening up in the near future, and she could not guarantee such a possibility. She graciously agreed to hold onto my resume for the future after I emailed her on Sunday afternoon informing her that I could not move forward with the interview process.

So why did all of this happen? Why in the world did I go through the application and interview process only to turn it down before even being offered the position? This event served as a reminder. I spent the majority of the weekend resting and thanking the Lord that He alone knows what is best for me and my husband. I more or less approached him with my tail tucked between my legs, humbled that I was reminded of something that should be so obvious. He has overwhelmingly provided for me with the position I am currently in, and I have never had to worry about how my work and school schedules fit together. Had He not provided my current place of employment when He did, I don't know how I would have afforded seminary or all of the medical bills which started flowing in two years ago. He also reminded me that my value and worth are not defined by my resume. Having employment experience with the title of "counselor" is not worth the new kinds of stress that would have accompanied this job I pursued. Because He knows what is best, and because I clearly do not, who am I to say that He does not have a purpose beyond my imagination for where I am at now? He is the great Provider, Sustainer, and Teacher, all characteristics of which He has continually reminded me of over the past three years. I have no idea what lies ahead career-wise, but I know what His promises are and I have been reminded of what it truly means to be thankful.

I stumbled across Paul Tripp's blog this weekend, and the particular post I read could not have come at a more appropriate time:
Now, admit it, you love you and you have a wonderful plan for your life. Somehow
someway we all are too focused on our own lives. All of us get captured by what
we want, what we feel, and what we have determined we need. Everyone of us is a
dreamer. We've all been given the amazing capacity to envision the future and to
plan toward it. A dream is imagination, coupled with desire and projected into
the future. There are things that you'd love to have as part of your life. There
are things that you'd like to accomplish. There are locations you'd love to
experience. There are relationships you'd like to enjoy. There are situations
you'd like to avoid. Every day you get up and you work toward some kind of
dream. But dreamers don't just dream their dream, they also dream to be
sovereign. . . .You see, you and I are worshippers. This is one of the things
the separates us from the rest of creation. As worshippers we're always living
for something. Something is always laying claim to the affection and rulership
of our hearts. There's always something that commands our dreams. There's
something that we look to to give us identity, meaning and purpose, and that
inner sense of well-being that everyone seeks. Now, Scripture says that there
are only two choices (Romans 1:25). You're living in pursuit of the creation or
the Creator. You're looking for your satisfaction and meaning in the physical
created world, or you're finding it in the Lord. What this means is that there's
a war of dreams that rages in our hearts, and in the middle of the fog of this
war it's so easy to get it wrong. It's so easy to think that because I have my
theology in the right place, because I am biblically literate, and a functioning
member of a good church, that my life is shaped by worship of the Lord. But,
that may not be the case at all. On closer inspection, it may actually be the
case that underneath all of those things is a life that's driven by personal
success, or material things, or the respect of others, or power and control,
etc. I am deeply persuaded that there's a whole lot of idolatrous Christianity
out there. The most dangerous idols of all are those that fit well within the
culture of external Christianity. It's here that Psalm 27 is so helpful and
convicting. What's David's dream for his life? What's his plan? Well, it sounds
so spiritual as to be impractical, but it gets right to the heart of why we were
created in the fist place. . . . David was saying, "I want to be where God
is. I want to do what I was created to do" . . . . David knows who God is:
the only "thing" in the universe that's truly worthy of worship. His dream is
the best dream that you could ever dream. Far from being impractical, this
dream, if lived out at street level, will bring purity and peace to your life.
What's your plan for your life? How close is your plan to the plan God had for
you when he gave you life and breath? Is there, perhaps, something in your plan
that competes for the place that only God should have?

"You have said, 'Seek my face.' My heart says to you, 'Your face, Lord, do I seek.'” ~Psalm 27:4


Amber said...

Wow, that quote from Paul Tripp's blog struck me right where it hurts, considering where we are right now in our desires and dreams of living and raising our family in the South, our, thus far, fruitless attempts to pursue that goal, and my own impatience in making the transition happen as quickly as possible. Greg even mentioned to me yesterday that sometimes he wishes I would just be able to show him that I am happy where I am, that I'm not always waiting for the next thing. With these two instances producing conviction in my spirit, I must not have the mindset about these dreams/changes that I had led myself to believe I had.

Thank you for sharing, yet again. ~LOVE~LOVE~

Ashley said...

What a great post. The piece from Paul Tripp's blog that you quoted is related to my most recent blog post.

"What this means is that there's a war of dreams that rages in our hearts..." oh yeah ... I'm there! :)

Stephanie Robertson said...

I love how you are not rushing to fill up your resume. I know how tempting that can be. Although it can be annoying at times, it's always nice to have a head of the household with integrity and character to lead you.

jennypen said...

I can relate as I read your post. I thought about many of the wonderful ideas Livy has come up with (i.e. playing king of the kitchen table or helping Gracie finish her dinner). I'm filled with love and adoration for her as I must gently correct her, sometimes hiding a smile or giggle. This is the picture I have of God when I work so hard to come up with my own carefully detailed plans that don't need to take place. Maybe not theoretically correct, but it's in my mind's eye anyway.

I am so glad to know what's going on in my oldest (er, longest-known) friend's life, and it brings me peace and joy to see your dedication to following God and the plans He has for you.