June 15, 2016

Timing and His Will

It is a good Wednesday, and I am sitting at my desk thinking about what to do next. I slept well last night. Actually, I had a pretty good night. I woke up to another weird dream, but I won't go into details about it. I am struggling right now to make sense of my life, and I am finding it difficult to hang on right now. I have made some changes over the past couple weeks, just changing my mindset, and then accepting whatever the Lord had in mind for me to do in regard to a full-time job.

Right now, though, I am struggling to figure out what He wants me to do. I've let go the idea of becoming a full-time professor simply because I see no available jobs on the horizon. I have been watching the jobs boards for positions for over two years now, and I have applied to several positions that fit my skills and experience. Nothing has happened for me on that front. I have received part-time offers, but part-time offers will not pay the bills, and now, paying my bills is my number one priority.

Turning Around

I made a strong about turn this morning after a difficult conversation with my Dad. I don't mean to imply that he was mean or anything of the sorts. No, what I mean to say was that he was blunt and to the point regarding my financial situation and my search for a full-time job. My Dad, whom I respect greatly, is struggling with many challenges in his life. First off, he is retired and living on a rather fixed income. Second, he has the full-time care of my Mom, who is suffering from CLL (a form of Leukemia) and the onset of Alzheimers. Third, he is trying to maintain a lifestyle that cannot be maintained on their current income and assets. Fourth, my Dad worked for many years as an Engineering Manager and later, a Director, whereby he commanded large projects and oversaw many employees. In short, he was well-regarded in his field and at his employer.

It is no secret that at times we butt heads. We are both headstrong and independent individuals. We also are hard workers, with a strong work ethic, and a mind of our own. As such, we don't always agree on things. Furthermore, since we live together, we are in close quarters most of the time. This means that we tend to run into one another often, and when we do, somethings sparks fly. In addition, since I share this home with my parents, I am obligated to pay my way. I have been able to do that for now on three full-years, but as my time as a doctoral student has progressed, well, I have felt the pinch of making ends meet more sharply. As of today, my bank account, while not depleted is running low. My Dad brought this to my attention (of which I was already aware) this morning. Needless to say, I was pressed for a response to his question, "how do you intend to make ends meet this summer?" Of course, he knows I am looking for full-time work, but over the past three years, I have not found anything viable outside of part-time jobs. He knows this is the case, and every so often I feel the pressure to stop what I am doing and start looking more readily for a job (non-teaching or non-specific). I have tried to maintain my position as a professor/instructor, and I have tried very hard to not give in to his inferred suggestion to take any job available. I do believe the Lord has a plan for my life, and I do believe that the plan is specific as to where I live, the work I do, etc. However, I also know that there is a difference between the practical work I do and the ministry work I do. I am not to confuse the two types of works.

I should say that despite this conversation today, my mind has been steadily turning in this direction lately. I mean, I have found no success yet in any of the jobs I have applied for, and I am running out of options. What is more, my bank account is running out as well. At some point, something has to give (as the saying goes). For example, I already know that my financial aid is tapped out so there will be no extra "refund" to get me through this fall. More so, the teaching contracts I have will not even cover my monthly expenses. I have no other teaching work in process, so basically, right now I am set for part-time work yet again. I have some big expenses to account for in the coming year including a car for my son and at least two trips to VA to finish my degree. In short, I am well-short of making ends meet with the current set-up. My Dad sees this as do I, and no matter what I do or say, until I rectify the situation, the tension at home is not going to cease.

Suffice it to say, today has been difficult for me. I am struggling to keep my composure, and I am feeling the burn of my whole life coming under the hot lights of scrutiny. I have known that this would happen eventually, but I was focused on completing my Regent studies, and that simply took priority for me. I pushed all the worry away. I chose not to think about it rather than deal with the situation where possible. In some ways, I ignored the problem until it got big, red, and ugly. In other ways, I did submit and yield to the Lord, and I trusted Him to help me patiently wait and endure until I was ABD and almost finished with school. Now that I am at this point, and with no real out apparent to me, I have made the decision to start actively looking for work anywhere it is available. I am no longer seeking teaching-specific work or online work or 'work from home' work. I am simply seeking a good practical job that will help me make ends meet.

Some confessions...

In my desire to turn around, I had to open up my heart and confess my reluctance to accept the provision of the Lord's hand. You see, back in 2013, the Lord provided a very good job to me. It was after I had realized that taking the job at GCU wasn't going to be a financially profitable move. I asked the Lord to provide for me, and within two days, I received a job interview with a company that eventually hired me as a Business Analyst. The job paid more than CVS, and while it was farther away for me to drive, it was a good job with a good company. I hated the work. Yes, in truth, I cried every day because the job was so boring. I sat all day long, getting paid well, but sitting there with nothing to do just killed me. In the end, I turned tail and went back to GCU where I have remained until today. In hindsight, I realized that the Lord provided a really good paying job that wouldn't conflict with my doctoral studies at Regent. I would have easily been able to work and do my studies. I didn't see it that way, and in my confusion and utter panic, I ran away from this job.

I confessed my rebellion to the Lord this morning. I know I was forgiven, and it wasn't like going to GCU was outside His will for me or anything. Rather it was just that the path I chose wasn't very profitable for me. It gave me rest. It gave me a part-time job that helped me earn top grades at Regent. It did help me get over my fear of speaking in public, but the job itself was draining physically, and emotionally it was stressful since it never provided enough income to cover my expenses. I had to rely on my financial aid for support, and now I am in this predicament. I am in debt with no clear way out.

This morning I asked the Lord to forgive me for turn away from His provision of good, practical work. I asked Him to accept my contrition because I knew what I had done. In truth, I have known what I did for three years. I justified, rationalized, and excused my rebellion. In time, I even tried to forget about it. But, the Lord never relents. He doesn't forget in this way. Not when our personal integrity and testimony is at stake. The Lord has gracious blessed me. He has provided for me, kept a roof over my head, and He has helped me navigate through this mess. He has also helped me deal with the stress I wrought on myself. In all, He has been faithful and good to me even when I looked at His provision as less than best.

Now, I wish I had that provision. I wish I had stayed put and never left that job. I wish I would have trusted the Lord to deal with Regent, to provide a way for me, to help me settle in. I wish so much I would have just sat still and let Him lead, guide and provide for me. I can tell you that by now, I would have been promoted. I would have been earning a very nice living salary. I might even have been relocated to another part of the country. So many things might have come to pass. This job had all the earmarks of a good thing stamped on it. But, in my haste, my poor judgement, and my dissatisfaction, I turned it down. I walked away. I got what I wanted -- a part-time job that has never produced anything other than more part-time work.

Now, I am not saying that I haven't enjoyed my job at GCU or any of the other schools because I have. In fact, I have come to love teaching. I have come to see it as such a sweet blessing. But the rub is that no matter how sweet and wonderful it is, the opportunities for me to work in this way and earn a decent living are so slim, so difficult, and so barren. It is as if this way has produced some results, but it is barren and not yielding any increase.

My response today is to seek the Lord for His provision as I have been but with no restrictions or withholding of my agreement. I need Him to open a door for me. I need Him to fix this mess I am in now. I need Him to make a way. I am trusting Him, and I am resting in His provision and His will. I believe He will see me through as He has done before. The difference now is that I am willing to do whatever job He brings to me, no matter how lowly or entry level it is. As of now, I am fully employable in whatever capacity the Lord chooses.

I gave in. I relented. I am waiting and I am patient. He is good. He is so very good to me. Selah!

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