Have you ever noticed that when you are going through something, needing an answer, that all of a sudden you find the same answer, or same truth, resonating from every direction? Appearing around every concrete corner? Soaking you from all sides? I suppose that’s how you know it’s real and really the right answer.
For the past couple of months, I have to confess I’ve been going through a bit of a slump. I decided not to return to the job I had before I went on maternity leave (which is over now), for several reasons. However, I thought that for sure by now I would have found another job, which I really do need, also for several reasons. I have not.
For the past couple of months, I have searched online for jobs daily, applied for jobs, been interviewed, updated and improved my resume three times, had my cover letter critiqued and then updated it twice, acquired very good references, joined LinkedIn, dropped off resumes, went to a job fair, and told literally every person I have had a conversation with that I am looking for a job. I have strived. I have struggled. I have fought a very disheartening battle within my mind daily and hourly, trying to figure out what to do next and who to talk to, trying to decide if I’ve become too choosy, trying to justify whether or not part-time really is the best—essentially trying to conjure up a solution. I have not.
I feel like I’ve been flailing and failing.
I remember praying about this several weeks ago, asking (and I quote), “God, please help me to figure out what to do to find a job.” A still small voice kind of interrupted me (gently), saying, “You don’t have to figure anything out.”
That should have been enough to centre me in God’s grace, but I kept reverting back to my human nature, thinking and analyzing and trying and struggling, using my best efforts to get my own plan together. Thankfully, God didn’t give up on me. Over and over, that same message has been communicated to me—with minor variations—from:
· church sermons
· conversations with friends and family
· reading books
· editing I’ve done for a client (Divine Exchange) (To clarify, I am a self-employed writer/editor, but I am looking for employment to supplement that work.)
The message has rained on me from all sides. As Forrest Gump said about the rain when he was in Vietnam, the rain even seemed to come up from underneath.
So what exactly is this message?
God’s timing is perfect. God’s plan is perfect. Yes, He actually does have a plan for me because He created me (just like He has a plan for you). God’s grace is sufficient. When I am weak, then I am strong; His strength is made perfect in my weakness. When I have done all I can do, I ought to trust God—in fact, I should have started with trusting God. I don’t need to figure anything out. I don’t need to figure out a solution in my own strength because God has already figured it out. My own efforts won’t ever be good enough and they will just end up making me feel frustrated. Rest in Him. Let go and let God. To start thriving, stop striving. When I’m in God’s grace, fulfilling His will, I’ll be the happiest, most peaceful and most satisfied. “Father knows best.”
OK, I thought. Interesting. This must be my answer.
This message is simple and wonderful, but it’s very HARD to carry out.
I’m not the type of person who can just sit there and relax. I need to be doing something. Work first, play later. If I have too much time to think, my mind becomes oppressive, reminding me that I really need something I don’t have. I feel inadequate and lonely and generally crappy because I’m not doing enough to bring finances into my household. Human nature demands that I will and work and strive and strain instead of resting and waiting. My soul, who tries to figure things out, who wants work really hard and try really hard in this “I-me-self-society” so that I can say that I worked hard and tried hard and got what I wanted (success/recognition), battles with my spirit, who tries to rest in the truth that with God, all things are possible; that God’s grace has provided everything I will never need, without having to strive; that all I need to do is trust in the Lord without leaning on my own understanding. I kind of feel like I’ve been going through “soul rehab” or something. I mean, our souls are important (God gave us souls), but they are often overbearing, loud-mouthed and outspoken. Our souls need to learn how to take the backseat and give our spirits the wheel instead of constantly speaking out of turn.
Thankfully, I’ve also learned that in waiting for an answer from God, in waiting for Him to pull everything together in His perfect timing, I don’t actually need to sit on the couch with my arms crossed, impatiently tapping my foot on the floor. (I couldn’t do that anyway.) There are many things I can be doing in the meantime. After all, how can God guide you if you aren’t even walking? I can still keep my eyes open and be on the look-out for opportunities, network, reach out to people, take care of my household to the best of my ability, give my client my best, pray (pray, pray and pray some more), trust, acknowledge that I can’t figure it out with my own willpower and strength but God can, and most recently, blog about my situation so that it might encourage you—in case you are going through something similar: a conflict between spirit and soul, a period of waiting, wondering what God has in store for you next, sitting at a crossroads or facing a struggle.
This isn’t “giving up”; this is “giving it up”: giving your struggle-that-you-are-trying-to-figure-out-and-solve-within-your-own-abilities up in exchange for God’s grace, strength and wisdom.