‘Unfortunately, on this occasion, we will not be inviting you to interview.’
‘We will not be able to take your application further at this time.’
‘We will not be progressing your application on this occasion.’
‘I’m afraid we were looking for someone with more experience.’
‘I’m afraid on this occasion your application was unsuccessful.’
Despite the varying politeness and the courtesy to at least tell me I haven’t go the job, it starts to feel a little hollow after a while. And yes, quite often I don’t actually have enough experience or would not quite fit the role, but email after email can start to wear down my confidence. A mind that continues to fight depression slips quickly into negative patterns of thinking. Emails start to tell me that I am incompetent, unworthy, unwanted, useless.
I started to apply for jobs seven months ago. Granted, I was still finishing university, but overhearing in a seminar the words ‘that’s great, all of us have a job lined up now!’ didn’t do anything to ease my anxiety.
It’s easy to start responding with bitterness towards those who turned you away (and to those who told you that doing a degree would get you a really great job). ‘I’ll be lucky to get a job at all’, I think as I remember the encouraging stats given by universities that seemed to guarantee employment come graduation.
It is also easy to respond with self deprecation, resigning yourself to the fear that you will never get a job. That is my temptation every time I open up a new application. ‘What’s the point’, I think, ‘I’ll never get this job anyway’. With each rejection its easy to let my thoughts spiral… ‘of course they didn’t want me.’
And then comes the next response: panic. I can’t afford not have a job. What am I going to do? I need a job… but I’ll never get one…
Despite my firm believe that the God of the Bible is completely in control, I begin to doubt that I fit in to a single part of his plan.
But the truth is that, whatever I convince myself, God’s plan for my life is not hold. Right now his plan for me is to be unemployed, with no living situation lined up, and searching for a job. And that is ok. I have to remind myself of this every day. And it is only gradually that I am learning to trust that God’s plan, even if it looks very different and far less shiny than the plan I had, is the best plan and is the plan that he is working in my life. He hasn’t forgotten about me. I haven’t fallen out of his plan. And that means that neither have you. Whatever your circumstance, you have not fallen out of the hands of God’s sovereign power and grace.
And yet, we must make sure that this doesn’t lead us to do nothing, to sit passively and to wait for God to present us with the perfect job, the ideal flat or the boyfriend/girlfriend of our dreams. We are called to trust in God’s plan. But his plan is not presented neatly before us, it is worked out in our actions. God is working through our actions, our decisions. He is at work in each of the job applications I send. He is at work in the painfully slow process of writing cover letters.
If I’m honest, though, I do find this balance very hard. How do I follow God’s will for me when I make bad decisions all the time? How do I keep within his plan when I don’t know what his plan for me is?
God will work through our lives, he will be at work even our mistakes. If I mean it for evil, God can still use it for good. And even better, we can seek to live lives that glorify God by seeking his will in prayerful dependence.
And just as faith in Christ battles fear of the future, so it also fights our fear of rejection. If my identity is placed in the acceptance that others give me then I would be thrown into crisis with every rejection I receive. And truthfully I am thrown by each rejection. They build up until I’m sure that ‘no one wants me’, that ‘I’m useful to nobody’. It is a fight to not give any of my identity to these rejections. But it is a fight that brings great joy – for our identity in Christ is the identity of a child of God, and it is one that cannot be taken away.
But how can we practically trust God in the uncertainty of our daily lives? Here are few ideas of how you can build trusting God into your daily routine…
- Remind yourself of his promises – this could be reading the Bible and truly listening to what God has to say to you, as well as writing out some of God’s promises to us and placing them in places you see as you go about your morning (or lack of) routine.
- Ask God to give you the ability to trust him – as he calls us to obedience he gives us the power that enables us to obey him. This could be a one sentence plea or a pouring out of all your anxieties – God rejoices to hear both prayers.
- Be active – don’t assume that God is doing all the work for you (as I sometimes pretend), he will also be working through you, and that means that we need to keep applying, or studying, or working, or persevering with whatever it is that our daily life holds.
- Be open about where you are struggling to trust God – as Christians, we all struggle in this area, and talking to a Christian friend that you trust about these doubts will be a blessing to both of you, building vulnerability and encouraging the other person to open up to you with their doubts, meaning that you are able to point one another back to the God who is worthy of our trust.
- Be ready for obedience and sacrifice – as we place our trust in Christ we are giving our lives to him. Each day remind yourself of Christ’s sacrifice for you, of how he died on the cross, in your place, so that you could be restored to God. And be willing to live sacrificially, following God where he leads you, in service to the one who gave everything for you.
- Do not despair – this might be far easier said than done, particularly if, like me, you are prone to negative thoughts. But take comfort in the fact that God really does have a plan for you, that as long as you are seeking to please him, he is pleased with you, and that we are truly safe in the hands of our Creator, Saviour and King.
Tomorrow I hear back from a couple of interviews. Maybe it’ll be the day I get a job, and I can enter employment knowing that God has used this time to teach me to depend upon him more and more and to trust in his plan for me, following him as he leads me each singly step at a time. Or maybe I won’t get a job, maybe I still have months to go in this period of unemployment. And that is ok too. I trust that God will provide, I trust that he will continue to teach me, and I trust that he will never let me fall from his everlasting arms.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.