August 5, 2012

Thinking Things Through

God is so very good to me. Yesterday, I came to the decision that while I want to be self-employed, I am not ready to give up some of the perks that come with working for a company. I also considered that perhaps I could work for another company for a time only, but during those months or even years, I could develop key skills that would enable me to be a consultant and eventually work on my own. I have time, really I do. I will be 50 this October, so I can invest a couple years of my time to developing my skills. I know that I want to stay at home, but I cannot go back to the day when I was a SAHM. Those days are behind me, and I don't have that luxury (of working part-time and having someone else do my sales work). I also know that working during the week is not the issue. I thought it was, but now I am thinking it is the kind of work I do, that causes the problems for me. Let me explain...

When I worked at Macy's, I had no issues going to work. Even when I was bored, and there were nights when the store was empty, I still went to work. Perhaps it was because I knew that Macy's was temporary work for me. I was working part-time only, and a family member was helping me cover my bills (with a small stipend each month).

I didn't like the work, and it was debilitating to me. I needed work that didn't involve standing all day, so looking at UOPX and the choice of a desk job suited me. However, while I sit all day, I am suffering nonetheless. In this job, I am bored with the actual work. At Macy's, I had to be busy, and that meant at times straightening racks that had already been straightened. There was always work to do, so it was only in the hour before closing that I watched the clocked.

At UOPX, all I do is watch the clock. I count the hours until lunch, and then I count the hours AND minutes until I get to clock out. I sit most of the day, either in mind-numbing activities like dialing numbers of people who inquired in 2000 -- and are no longer interested -- or waiting for that one call per day to come into me so I can assist a student. My attitude is the worst it has been, and I feel so tired all the time. I know that for me boredom is not having enough to engage my mind. I need to be busy, and whether that busy work is putting clothes away or doing some type of analysis, I need to keep my mind engaged.

I am not sure I am ready for a full-on sales job. I am willing to consider it though simply because I can earn a lot of money, and money is something I need. While I am not to focus on money, I do know that it is better to have more than less. God is good all the time, and He has Graciously provided for me, and will continue to provide for me. I know this, but now I am thinking whether I should work from home or work for someone else for a while longer.

"Oh, Lord -- what am I to do?"

I can tell you that yesterday, right after I voiced my feelings on design, I FELT better immediately. In fact, I had zero stress for the rest of the day. I woke up today without a headache (PTL!) and I have only a slight backache (hip pain really). So what gives? I have been trying and trying to figure out how to be a designer. I have asked the Lord for His help, and He has Graciously provided tools and training, etc. I have done what has been asked of me, with exception to recreating my design for my own site. I guess I am unsure what to make of my feelings, my emotions and my physical health.

I need to do some research into the matter.

Well, maybe. The truth be told, I know this: peace is the key to happiness -- both in person and in spirit. Peace comes from resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and it is the only way to be happy inside (mentally, emotionally, spiritually speaking). Physical ills are often caused by stress, and stress is caused when there is a lack of peace. If our Lord promised us His Peace, then why do we suffer with the feeling that there is no peace in our life?

"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 NLT

Joyce Meyer says that we should always seek peace when it comes to making decisions. Often, if we lack peace, we need to stop and consider moving forward with something. She says it is OK to turn around and go back to avoid costly mistakes. This is from her book, "21 Ways to Finding Peace and Happiness,"

Peace is our inheritance from Jesus, but we have to choose to
follow Him daily. Colossians 3:15 teaches us that peace is to be the
“umpire” in our lives, settling every issue that needs a decision. To
gain and maintain peace in our hearts, we may have to learn to say
no to a few things. 
For example, if we don’t feel peace about something, we should
never go ahead and do it. And if we don’t have peace while we are
doing something, then we shouldn’t expect to have peace after we
have done it. Many people marry others they didn’t have peace
about marrying, and then they wonder why they don’t have peace
in their marriages. Many people buy expensive items they didn’t
have peace about buying, then continue to lose their peace every
month when they have to make payments on them.

And then in closing, she says:

Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace from Christ
“rule (act as umpire continually)” in our hearts. The presence of
peace helps us decide and settle with finality all questions that arise
in our minds. If you let the Word have its home in your heart and
mind, it will give you insight and intelligence and wisdom (see v.
16). You won’t have to wonder, Should I or shouldn’t I?

(You can read the excerpt here,

Alright, so considering this verse, what can I learn from the Word today? I believe God's Word most certainly, and if I don't have peace about something, then I need to give heed to that feeling. Peace is a state of harmony, so it would mean to say that when you feel peace, you are in harmony with God's will. Conversely, it could be said that if there is no peace, then you are not in harmony with His will on that specific thing, item or way. Does that mean that the way is wrong? Or perhaps the choice is not meant to be at this time and place in your life?

I am still uncertain, and that is not a good thing either.

This is what I know. I have no peace at my present employer. I am trying very hard to do a good job, but the stress to perform is overwhelming to me. My attitude drains away from me as soon as I pull into the parking lot. I am not happy there, and while happiness is fleeting, and not a good indicator for our life choices, it is certainly a symptom of either peace or unrest. Therefore, I know this -- where I am now is not where I am supposed to be.

So, if I follow along with that line of thinking, then I need to consider options for going where I need to be. First of all, I must choose Matthew 6:33 -- seeking His Kingdom first always. Ok, done. I know what I am to do in regard to that path. I am to put the things that matter to Him first in my life. Job is not a high priority and neither is making a good income. The Lord will provide to me, so I don't have to worry about job security or provision.

What then do I need to worry about? Well, really nothing at all. If I am truly seeking the Lord in all things, putting His Kingdom first, then I should be at rest. The Lord says to me, "Trust me." I hear these words echo in and out of my brain -- it is a constant reminder to me to remain in a faithful and dependent relationship with Him. If I say I trust (believe) Him, then I must remain in that condition of active belief. I know this, I know my doctrine, and I know what it means to be faithful.

Why then do I struggle so much? Why then do I fret and fear about tomorrow? Why do I allow the stress of making dials, having student conversations, etc. rule over me and cause me to worry and be anxious?

My faith is misplaced if I think that a job could supplant the Word of the Lord. May it never be. It doesn't matter what I do for "work" so long as it is an honorable type of work. Does it have to be ministry focused? No. Does it have to suit me or sit well with me? No, not really (though a better suited position does make it easier to enjoy life). Do I need to make X dollars each month to be secure? No, again, not if I am relying on the Lord for His provision.

Ok, so in summary, this is where I stand. It doesn't matter what kind of work I do, so long as "I do it until to the Lord." (Col. 3:23)

What kind of work then is available to me? Pretty much any kind. A better question might be, "What kind of work is realistic for me to do?" Yes, this is probably more accurate. I mean, I could be a teacher, but can I get hired as a teacher without a credential (not likely) or teaching experience (so far, no). Therefore, becoming a teacher is a viable path, but one that may require a lot more work, time, and schooling. It might also not be worth the effort to accomplish those items > income, availability, security, placement > could all prove not a good ROI.

I can do what I know, which is web design. I know how to design web sites, but I have not been able to learn how to do that again. It has taken a lot of effort and energy for me to relearn this skill. Moreover, the climate seems dicey at best. I mean, people can make template sites for free or for low hosting cost, and they look really, really nice. Will someone pay me to do this work for them? I believe that the answer is Yes, but only if the Lord brings those people to me.

I can do administrative work, but the pay is very low (average $10-13 per hour). I need to make at least $20 per hour (what I earn now) to be able to live comfortably. Now, I don't mean to gripe about it, but the truth of the matter is that I really need to make somewhere between $25-30 per hour so that I can invest in 401K and plan for my retirement. As a single person, I have to make more money since I don't have the blessing of a husband to contribute to our long-term care.

I can do sales and marketing. I have never formally done this kind of work, but I have supported my husband in that line of work. I am very good at it, and it is the one position that allows me maximum income opportunities. Coupled with my knowledge of technology, I really should be able to work in this industry, in some capacity and earn a good income.

Alright, so now that I have identified possible targets, I guess I need to consider if I am willing to do a different kind of work, even for the short term. The answer to this question must be "Yes, I am willing." The Lord knows what I can and cannot do (He tells me this all the time), and therefore, He will not put me into a job that would overwhelm me or hurt me (Jer. 29:11).

Dear Lord,

I think I understand what is going on. I have wanted to be self-employed, which is clearly part of your will for my life. However, I have not wanted to go back to web design. I have had a lot of opportunities to do this kind of work, but when I am offered them, I always turn them down. I don't see myself sitting behind a computer writing HTML code day in and day out. I see myself in a different way now, a new way. And, in that way, I want to try new things, to explore new opportunities for growth and development. I also want to move into positions that support your will, align with your plans for my life and future ministry. I need to be all about your Kingdom, and I need to be willing AND agreeable to doing any kind of work that will take me where you are leading. I let go today, Lord. I will rest in your Power, and Provision, and I will trust you for your Protection upon my life. You are able to bring me to the kind of job that will suit your needs, and provide well for me and my extended family. I will not be afraid to go in this direction, and I ask now for peace in my heart and mind, so that I can let this be, and let your Kingdom be first in my life. I ask all this now in the Powerful NAME of Jesus. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and think calmly about that!!)

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