June 22, 2016

God Moves

It is a beautiful, albeit very warm Wednesday morning here in sunny Phoenix. The air temperature outside right now (at 9 a.m.) is 97. Our high today is expected to be near 113. I am hoping the monsoon arrives quickly. Our normal monsoonal pattern typically starts to generate storms closer to the beginning of July, but the weather service has officially declared the monsoon start as June 15. I think they do this to cover their forecasts (LOL!) I haven't heard the Cicada's yet, which is always a good indicator that the dew point is rising and storms are on their way. Soon, perhaps, soon.

I slept pretty well last night. I watched two episodes of Masterpiece Mystery's, "Endeavor" before heading to bed. I had missed Sunday's third season premiere because I was not feeling well. I started to watch it on PBS but couldn't remember the ending to season two so I watched that episode on Amazon Instant Video to catch up. In good form, season three's first episode was worth the wait. I do like Shaun Evans as Morse, and I loved Roger Allam as the disagreeable but loyal DI Thursday. I am looking forward to watching the next episodes as they air on PBS each week.

So I slept well, thankfully, and I woke up at 8:30 a.m. thinking to myself that if I get this new job at UHC, I will have to start and end my day much earlier than what I am used to now. UGH! I couldn't help but think about my post the other day on the compromises or trade-offs we make, you know, when choices are considered. Sigh! I do have some good news, however. Yesterday, I received an email from the hiring manager asking me to interview for this position. I thought it was interesting that I didn't interview with the recruiter, and that I went straight to the hiring manager. I guess I will speak with the recruiter at some point or perhaps I will just go from hiring manager to HR. Anyway, I am pleased with this report. I am a bit hesitant to have to make the drive again (I commuted when I was at UOPX and it wasn't my favorite thing to do). My Dad suggested taking the light rail, but I am not comfortable doing that especially if I ever have to work longer hours or in the winter time. No, I am trusting the Lord to provide a way for me. He knows me best, and while commuting and early arrivals are minor issues, He understands my needs right now so I am letting this go. I need the job, and this is the first bite I have had on my resume. I know people will say, "don't take the first bite -- wait for more opportunities." The problem is that in this climate of unemployment, waiting is not always the best course to take. No, if this is the door the Lord wants me to walk through, and this is His provision, He will orchestrate the details to make this a good fit, a good choice, and a good job for my next career position. Selah!

Power and Ability

As I think about my next steps, I cannot help but stand in awe of the One who has moved the obstacles out of my way. I mean, I am in this position today because the Lord God, Jehovah, decided to clear the road up ahead by removing the things that were blocking my forward progression. I believe, no I am convinced, that the Lord has moved many things out of my way in order to get me to this place today. Granted, I don't have this job in hand, but I am farther along this road than I was before and it seems that this path has produced good results in a very short amount of time. Let me explain...

I was thinking about this yesterday, how I was on the "fast track" working my way through business at both UOPX and CVS Caremark. The Lord had opened doors for me quickly once I made my mind up to trust Him for the position, the role and the title of His choosing. You see, for a long while, I tried to find work doing what I already knew how to do. Many people would say that working in your knowledge base is a good thing. I mean, isn't that the point of the job hunt, to find a better paying job, a more challenging position, all within your present field and your current set of work skills? I would say that this attitude or mindset is pretty much the standard when it comes to job hunting. The advice I received was to "do what you already know," and back in 2010, that meant that I was to find a job as a website designer or content manager. My first steps, then, were to apply for jobs that seemed like an easy fit for me. I applied 50 times to jobs that seemed like they were aligned with my skill set only to get rejected out of hand. I interviewed twice, and each time, I left feeling more uncertain of my path, my way, or even the plans the Lord had for my life. It was like I was pushing a rock up a hill -- and slipping downward due to the heavy burden I was carrying with me. Then the Lord asked me to trust Him to find me a job, and with that ascent, I started to apply for jobs that I wasn't qualified (in my mind) to hold. I debated with the Lord, I worried and disagreed on His assessment. The jobs didn't produce interviews so I took the "see, I told you so" attitude with Him.

In time, no work appeared on the horizon and I started to get very frustrated. Then when I was at my lowest point, feeling worthless, helpless, and clueless as to making a way out of my situation (which by the way, was deepening and becoming more crisis-like), I gave in and I relented. I said, "Lord, you provide the job of your choosing. I will do the work EVEN if I don't think I can handle it." Doors started to open, and within two weeks, I was hired at UOPX. The funny thing was that the job was not a good fit for me, technically speaking. It was difficult, and the skills needed were not in my area of strength. But, I persevered, and in the end, I learned how to have a really good conversation. I learned how to encourage, mentor, and depend on the Lord for my performance, my abilities, and the power to do good, practical work.

After fifteen months in that role, the Lord moved me to another job where my skills were honed. This time, the job was a better fit for my analytical brain. It wasn't a good fit when it came to work/life balance, but it was a good next step. I trusted Him again when He directed me to apply. I didn't think I could do the work, I didn't think I had the experience. Yet, He put me in a job that challenged me and helped me develop quality business abilities that prepared me for study, for research, and for analysis in my doctoral program.

Then in fall 2013, He moved me to the role of business analyst, a role I was clearly not prepared to take. In the end, I panicked and I ran away (like Jonah) and hid in the comfort of what I could do or thought I could do better. My decision to not trust the Lord sent me to a place of great sacrifice, difficulty, trial, and physical pain. I stayed there for three long years, learning skills (of course), and coming to this place of humility and acceptance. I always blog here and say:

I will go where He sends me
I will live where He tells me to live

Yet, in truth, I was not willing to do the work He prepared me to do. Not, initially, that is. I didn't want to do certain types of work. I didn't want to work in environments that were not as friendly or accepting as I thought they should be. No, I was "particular" about certain things, and often my particular attitude got me into trouble.

I am a Jonah in so many ways. I am a prophet who often questions the logic and decision-making process of the Lord. I think I am better than He is at choosing, at deciding what is best and what is not, and I tend to argue (debate) with the Lord over minor points. He is patient with me, good with me, and He rarely relents. Sometimes He gives me what I ask, and rarely what I asked for IS the THING I wanted or expected. Yes, my judgement is often impaired, is short-sighted, and at times, even less-than-best for my good, my welfare, and sufficient to meet my needs.

So today, I am thinking how the Lord doesn't put me in places where I will be sedentary or comfortable. No, He puts me in places, in jobs, and in career paths that cause me to grow, to change, to adapt, and to learn. He is preparing me for His work, and to do this specific work, I must have certain skills and abilities. These skills and abilities exist outside of education. I am well-educated. I am smart, and I possess plenty of useful "knowledge," but I lack practical skill. I need to develop skills as a people-manager, a program or project manager. I cannot learn how to do this in school, so I must work in business to learn how to do this type of work. Does this mean that I am to be a business analyst for the rest of my working career? No, not at all. Rather, the Lord uses companies to develop His people, to prepare them for work. Thus, today I may be in the running for this role, but in a year, I may be doing something related, yet completely different.

His Work, His Way

I am committed to doing His work. Yes, my commitment to the Lord is to follow Him, to serve Him in whatever capacity He asks of me, and to go and to do the WORK He has in mind for me. I know some of this work is in communications. I know some of this work is in teaching and/or preaching to groups of people. I know that some of this work is in preparing, writing, and publishing curriculum (books, tapes, DVDs, etc.), and I know that some of this work is in leading, mentoring, and equipping (making disciples) of others. My skills, therefore, are honed in several of these areas already. I am a communications scholar. I am a really good teacher. I am comfortable presenting to large groups. I am adept at creating curriculum, and I understand the process involved with publication. I am strong when it comes to mentoring and to shepherding people, but I am weak in leading others. I need to develop people-building skill. I need to develop my leadership ability, and to do that means that I must function in a leadership role. I see now that the Lord desired to move me into a leadership role back at UOPX and at CVS Caremark, but at that time, I was unwilling to take on that responsibility.

Truthfully, I didn't think I was good enough, smart enough or knew enough to do it. Since that time, I have come through an incredible and difficult PhD program. I think I can learn just about anything now -- considering what I had to process to pass my exams. Oh yes! I can excel at any course of study and do well in it. I am confident, bold, and able to do this type of work. Thus, I need to be in a role that will give me opportunity for leadership. I need to learn how to manage people, and to be a good program or project manager. This is my next step, and the Lord had this in mind when He moved me into the role of semi-project manager at CVS, and then to the business analyst role at Centene. I simply didn't trust Him. I didn't believe He knew what He was doing, and I disregarded His advice to me. Now, I am backtracking a bit in the role department, but I am moving forward in the skills and abilities department. In all, while I have lost some forward momentum, I am making up for lost time. He is good, He is gracious, and He forgives when we do not trust Him, obey Him, or listen to Him.

Now I am ready. I am far better prepared, and for the most part, I am humbled because I have learned through the "school of hard knocks" that His way is so much better than my way. Now, I must follow. I must go where He sends me, and that means to this company, to this job, to this role. Even if I don't think I can do it (now, with my skills and abilities), He knows I can do it with a bit a training and practice.

Furthermore, I must let Him lead me in this process. He must speak through me, guide me, and place me with the people He wants to oversee my training and my development. I don't have to like these people. I don't have to get along with them as "buddy-buddy," but I do need help to get me from where I am today to where He wants me to be tomorrow.

Moreover, as He leads me, He is moving me physically. I know I am to leave Arizona soon. Yet, the job I have applied for is local. On face value, this seems impossible, implausible, and not clearly the right way to go. It would make better sense to apply for a position in the place of His choosing and then be done with the matter. But, my efforts to do that have returned void. No, He has to move me within, and that means to get me into a company that will provide a way to move me. You see, I realized this when I was at CVS Caremark. For a long time before I worked there, like a year before, I had this sense that one of the places I was permitted to live was Northbrook, IL. I spent about 6-8 months studying Northbrook, IL, learning everything I could about it, preparing for a possible move there some day. I had no knowledge of how I would get there, and I even applied for jobs that were in the area (within higher education companies). No jobs were offered, so I put the idea out of my mind. Then in 2012, when I started to work at CVS, I found out that the other half of my team was located in Chicago. When I asked for specifics, I was told they worked in the "Northbrook office." I didn't stay at CVS, but clearly the Lord was keeping His promise to me. If He wanted me to go to this place, He would have made it possible for me to relocate there with company provision.

The same is true with this company, UHC. Although I don't have the job yet, still this company has office locations all over the USA. One of those places is Tennessee. I have always known that Tennessee is a place of the Lord's choosing for me, but I never could figure out a way to get there on my own. I thought about moving there many years ago (like 10), but was prevented from doing so because at that time, my ex-husband was unwilling to consider the Lord's call to go there. Then life intervened, as I like to say, and I was separated and divorced. The thought of moving out of state began to scare me because as a single person, I didn't think I could do a move like this on my own. Also, I didn't want to go to a place where I knew no one, had no family, or was far from family. Despite my fears, the Lord asked me to trust Him. I tried hard to trust Him, but in the end, I have remained where I am and not moved to any of the places the Lord has permitted me to consider.

I have tried very hard understand why I will not trust the Lord in this way. I am not saying that the Lord might fulfill His word to me now and move me to TN, rather what I am saying is that sometimes the Lord puts something on your heart and it doesn't make sense to you. The dream, the idea, the concept doesn't leave you so you pursue it, trying to understand it, figure it out. You may even try to manipulate the matter, to make it happen, but no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, you simply cannot make the pieces fit together. This is exactly how it is with me today.

You see, I have tried to figure a way to move from AZ. I have been looking for ways out for now on 10 years. I have looked at so many communities around the USA, mostly in the SE or Midwest. Yet, the Lord hasn't permitted me to move just yet. I have only looked at them, scoped them out, considered them. He has not moved me. The jobs He has provided, though, have offered me a way to get there, but so far I have remained where I am. I know this is in part to my own refusal to go. I simply haven't been willing to go where He wants to send me. I have consented to the idea of going, but not to actually going. Each time I am offered a job, there seems to be a connection to one of the places the Lord has placed in my heart and on my mind. He sends me. He commands me to go. Yet, I do not go. Why?

I believe the "long and short of it" is because I have been afraid to go where He is sending me. I have been afraid to uproot my family and move across the country to a place that is unknown to me. More so, with my parents in ill-health, I have been unwilling to go while they are still alive. I have heard His command to go, but I have not relented, I have not yielded or listened. I have NOT gone. This is why I tarry here in Phoenix, this is why I am here today and not living somewhere in the SE or Midwest USA. As if I am peering through the looking glass, I see my Jonah-like behavior, and I see my own stubborn refusal to go where and when the Lord has instructed. In my arrogance and pride, I have chosen to think that I know what is best, when in truth, He knows what is best for me.

It has been a long process of learning what it means to humble oneself before the Lord. Micah 6:8 says,

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

I am to walk HUMBLY with my God, and that means to not be arrogant or assertive (Dictionary.com). Humble also means "ranking low in a hierarchy or scale" and to think of one as insignificant or unpretentious. If God asks me to do something, I am not to question Him, to assert my personality in order to "test" Him. I am to accept His words to me as commands as if I was a lower ranking officer. I am not in charge of God, yet often I behave as if I think I am.

I have learned lessons in humility throughout my career and personal life. In truth, I struggle with pride. I can be arrogant at times. I can be difficult, particular, and act as if "I know" more than other people. I must not be this way, and while my personality is inclined toward headship, I must remember who is my Head. He is my Head. He is my Leader. He is my Authority. I struggle with this, but mostly I am not good at listening and obeying. I want to obey, mind you. I want to be a good listener, and I want to follow the Lord's commands. Yet, I don't always do what I know I should do, and sometimes that willful stubbornness gets me into trouble. I know it as does He.

The Plan Today

So the plan today is to rest in this new reminder that as the Lord leads, He provides. If it is His desire to move me into a position that will strengthen my skills areas, develop weaker skills, and provide a path for a leadership role, then I must allow Him to do it. I must let go of my need to question His integrity and His authority. I must trust Him, and say to Him, "Lord, I believe You know what is best for my life." I must let Him lead me.

Proverbs 16:9 NLT says, "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." This is a good reminder that while we make our plans for today, the Lord is the One who is choosing the way for us to go. If we lean on our own understanding then we run the risk of missing out on God's best for us (Prov. 3:5-6). Instead, it is better to let the Lord lead and guide us, so that He is able to provide for our every need. I think this is why the New Testament says to us to not worry about our days or what will happen to us. The Word says it this way,

Matthew 6:25 - "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?"

Luke 12:11 - "When you are brought before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say."

Today, therefore, I rest in His sufficiency, in His abilities to do what He determines is best for me. I must let Him lead me, and in doing so, He will provide the best solution to meet my very need. I know that in the past, He has gone before me to prepare a way for me. He has been with me throughout this process, and today as I make plans for tomorrow, I know that He will be with me to help me make good choices, to do the things that matter most to Him. So whether I stay or I go, I do everything unto the Lord. It is up to Him to move me, to make the pieces fit together. It is my job to listen, to obey, and then to follow Him as He commands me, guides me, leads me, and provides for me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

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