If there is any process that can take your sense of hope, doubt, faith and trust, put all of them in a blender and see what comes out. The job application process might be just that. The amount of time and energy put into applications, cover letters and resumes is not small. The effect on your heart can be tremendous.
I’ve been through this process before, but seemingly forgot about the waiting, and waiting and more waiting that is involved. I also forgot what it felt like to pour everything you have into an application, click “submit” and know that a piece of your soul is out in cyberspace with a pretty good chance of heading straight to the recycle bin.
As I applied for jobs, I felt like I lost a little piece of me with each application. That piece varied from a couple hours of my time, to an intense longing for a job that was a “perfect” fit. There were times of great anticipation and hope – phone calls, emails, feeling incredibly confident about a particular application, interviews, etc. There were also times that were less than encouraging – the other type of phone call or email, the applications that apparently “disappeared” after leaving my desktop.
This process, like other things we experience in life, is a process of great risk. It is one that requires an incredible amount of hope. With great risk comes even greater reward. But with great risk also comes a period of uncertainty, doubt and questioning. It is in this phase that we quickly learn in what and in whom our hope rests.
The way we take risks can manifest in two very different ways. First, we can take everything into our own hands, mustering through, never giving up, trying, trying and trying again, working tirelessly until we force something to come to fruition. Though success is possible, this process has the potential to quickly cause internal chaos and run dry the areas of motivation, hope and aspiration.
The second way of approaching risk involves a more delicate process, and one heck of a lot more trust. It requires that we complete the necessary tasks to our best ability and then we put that risk into the hands of God. We hit “submit” and then we hang on to hope that what He has ahead for us really is the best possible option.
This is tough.
If I learned anything in my most recent job search it is that I still have a long way to go before I gracefully approach risks the second way. I very much wanted to be in the driver’s seat, deciding when, where, why and how things would work out. Yet, I also knew from experience that approaching risks that way does not meet the deepest needs of my heart, nor does it prepare me for the risks still ahead.
Prayer is hard for me sometimes. I, like many, have an easier time praying for the needs of others. I have no problem recognizing and giving thanks for the blessings in my life and in the lives of others. But this type of prayer – the prayer that is required during times of great risk – is different. It is a prayer that puts me in the place of asking for something, of needing something, of not being self-sufficient, of depending on God.
Throughout my job search, I had to be entirely dependent on God. I had no idea what was to come, nor was I very hopeful at the prospects. One company didn’t have any positions that matched my skill set; another selected a candidate with more years of experience. I didn’t really want to look for other jobs; my motivation was quickly waning and my timeframe was getting shorter by the minute.
Yet, God had a plan. He always does. I just have to remember to remember that.
I have to pray, to lift up my deepest desires and to trust that He really does know, love and watch out for me. He has, after all, carried me through some really tough times, far more difficult than any kind of job search. He has orchestrated a beautiful existence in which I not only survive, but thrive, held up by the powerful loving support of friends. He’s brought me out of dark places and times when I was completely lost. He lifted me up when I experienced incredible pain and He rejoiced with me in transformative life events.
Applying for jobs is not easy. Taking risks is not easy. Dealing with uncertainty, doubt and trust, or a lack thereof, is not easy. But I’m going to go as far as to say, despite the hurt, despite the pain that we have all experienced at various points in our lives, God has been there with us through it all. Certainly, it is harder to see in the moment – the cliché “hindsight is 20/20” exists for a reason – but He is there and He has something ahead that will help make sense of the struggle. He asks us to trust, and trust, and trust again. He asks us to remain people of hope, people of faith despite uncertainty.
I wish I had a one-size-fits-all solution that I could suggest for anyone who might be facing great risk or great trial. Maybe that solution begins with prayer. Start there and, even if slowly, God will begin to work in your heart to help guide you wherever that risk or trial may be asking you to go.
To pull a line from one of my favorite songs of the moment, “There’s hope in front of me / There’s a light I still see it / There’s a hand still holding me / Even when I don’t believe it.”
There’s hope in front of me.