July 7, 2016

Happy Today

Do you remember that song, "If You are Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands?" Well, I woke up singing that song this morning, and now I cannot get it out of my head! I guess I am happy, at the least, I woke up happy today. I have many things to be happy about, and one of them, is the fact that God is good. I know I say this often, "God is good!," but it is true. He is good. His word tells us of His goodness, His grace, and His glory. His nature is Good. His creation is Good. He is Good, and His works are all so very Good.

As I think about His goodness today, I cannot help but envision that God has a plan for my life, and yes, it is a GOOD one. I may not understand His plan completely or even grasp the significance of it, but I can take comfort in knowing that His interest, His effort, and His results are all good. This means that in my life, in the events and circumstances that come to pass in my life, the EMPHASIS is always on His goodness and my good. You see, God does things that always reflect His goodness toward His beloved children. Sometimes what happens to us clearly doesn't appear to be good at all, but the outcome or results are designed to produce good within us. Other times, we know that what is happening to us is good right from the "get go." We simply can see it, feel it, know it -- everything is good -- and we are the better off because of it.

I am struggling a bit today with understanding my life, with knowing how all the good God has brought to me, fits together. My life is like a puzzle, and the pieces are custom made to suit His glorious idea of what I was designed, manufactured so to speak, to become. I cannot see the final product, so I have to trust the Master Craftsman and believe that His design is good, it is solid, it is perfect, and it is beautiful. Yes, sin has marred my perfection. Sin in the world and sin in my nature has made it difficult for me to achieve that perfect result. I am not able to "be" exactly the way He originally made me to be. I am trying my best to learn how to "be" what He wants. I am also learning the difference between being something and doing something. I get the doing down pat, and I am very good and successful when it comes to doing things. I just don't quite get how to be the thing He wants, how to be a servant, for example. I serve well. Yes, I am a Martha to a tee. The problem, of course, is that I was designed, no perfected before the creation of the world, to be a Mary. How do I learn how to stop doing and start being? It is a challenge, and with my personality bent toward "doing" and accomplishing tasks, I struggle when I am asked to sit, to be still. I don't want to sit. I don't want to be still. I see both as a sign of laziness; inactivity is anathema to me. Instead, I want to do, do, do so I can accomplish more, more, and more.

Today, my desire is to sit and to be still. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God." My prayer today is to know that He is God, and that as God, to know and to recognize that He is good. He is good, so very, very good to me. Selah!

Rejection

It sounds like a conundrum, but there are times in life when you must accept being rejected. You must acknowledge that you are a "reject" of some sorts. People of all sorts, those in positions of authority or those in positions of trust, reject you. Sometimes it is on the basis of your performance, skill, or ability. Other times, it is for personal reasons such as a lack of affection or even deeper issues like a persons' race, creed, or appearance. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to process rejection. Rejection hurts, and it can leave damaging scars if we do not learn how to accept and to handle rejection when it happens to us. Rejection simply means "the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc." (Dictionary.com). In business, rejection often accompanies job applications. You apply for a coveted position and after a waiting period, you realize your application has been dismissed. Not qualified. Not desired. Not wanted. Ouch!

In personal relationships, early experiences with rejection can cause individuals to shy away from being in a friendship or even a love relationship. Rejection can signal a reaction to avoid pain, and some people, unwilling to accept rejection as a normal part of life, can over react to it. They can become angry toward the one who rejected them or their idea or proposal. Or they can turn inward, and begin to reject themselves as they condemn their own actions, thoughts or feelings. Thus, learning how to accept rejection is critical for maintaining a healthy and happy attitude and outlook in life. It is critical to learn how to deal with the feelings that come with being set aside, cast off, or looked over. It is necessary to accept the criticism that says "not good enough" in order to see the bigger, and yes, better picture.

Dr. Steve Maraboli once said, "Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." If we are honest with ourselves, we can probably attest that this statement is true. I know that in my life, there have been times when I have wanted something, a particular some thing, very badly; but after being rejected came to realize that I was better off not having received it. Some things are better left behind; some things are better when we accept that they have been rejected as part of God's overarching good will and good plan for our life.

Accepting Rejection

Do you accept rejection gracefully? Do you consider it to be a blessing in disguise? Or do you harbor hurt and feelings that remind you that you were not up to "snuff," not good enough, or not wanted? I read a quote attributed to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, considered to be the superstar of Hindi Cinema. In an interview, he said the best piece of advice he had ever received on how to handle rejection came from his father. His father said, “If you get what you desire, it is good. However, if you fail to get what you desire, it is better. Because that is the will of God. And God always wants the best for you.”

I think this advice is good, and I think it makes a lot of sense, at the least, the last part. You see, God does desire our good, our well-being, and while we often think we know what is best for us, we are short-sighted and unable to see past the end of our nose. We think we can see our future, when in reality, we can only see a snippet of it at a time. It is like watching a movie frame-by-frame. We can only see the image that is on the screen in front of us. We can remember the previous frames, but we cannot imagine what the rest of the movie looks like because we haven't seen those frames yet.
If we can remember that rejection happens for a reason, that it is part of the "frame" of life we are in, then we can better understand that the next frame up may be something brilliant, wonderful, and unimaginable as a result. Rejection can open doors to new opportunities, it can bring renewed hope, and it can help us see the possibilities that exist in the world. So long, that is, that we don't allow the rejection itself to keep us from moving on. If we sit, stew, and stay with the rejection for too long, we will become fixed in time, stuck in the frame, and unable to finish the rest of the movie (to keep with my analogy). We have to let the movie play on, to come to the end, so that we will know and will understand the whole story.

Life as Story

As a communications professional, I am keen to see, to view life as a story. I love narration, and I love the idea that all of life is a story just waiting to be narrated. Narration is "the act or process of telling a story or describing what happens." In many ways, my blog is a narration of my life. I am writing about the events, the details, and my understanding of them in order to tell my personal life-story. This blog, thus, is a journal chronicling my experiences so that others (those who may read it later) will come to understand how those experiences shaped my perceptions, my views, and my understanding of the world. More so, as I write my experiences down, I hope that my story will reflect my faith in God, my willingness to trust Him to shape, to mold, and to create change within me so that I can become the person of His choosing, of His design. My prayer is that my blog can help other people come to see God as good, and to recognize and to know that He has a good plan for their life too.

For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord,
‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 AMP


So today is a good day. It is a good day, and I am thinking good thoughts. I spent quite a bit of time last night thinking about this whole situation with UHC, and the job I applied for nearly a month ago. I realize that many large companies do not make decisions quickly. I guess I have been fortunate enough to be hired within a week of interviewing too many times now to not expect the same. Still, I do understand that not every company is as organized or proactive as the ones I worked for previously. Nonetheless, I do see inactivity as a problem. I see not keeping your word as a problem. I see the fact that a company seeking to hire over 3,000 positions consistently as a problem. Why is this so? According to the hiring manager I interviewed with two weeks ago, this company is known for promoting from within. Interesting. I asked my Dad about that approach and he scoffed at me. He was a managing director of a large plastics firm for 25 years. He hired a lot of people over his many years, and he said that hiring from within does work from time to time, but he said he always preferred to hire new people because it encouraged new ideas, a fresh perspective on the business. He said people from "inside" tend to have an "insiders view" and that can mean less training (a positive), but stale and non-creative energy (a negative). In short, often companies who promote from within do so to ensure "the party line." They prefer people who are seasoned to the business, who already know what is expected of them, and who won't rock the boat. Outsiders tend to rock the boat, to expect change, to encourage "out of the box" thinking.

As I processed the fact that more than likely, I have been rejected for this position, I started to look at this outcome as a positive and not a negative. Sure, the negative is looming squarely in my face -- I need the money -- I am short of cash. But with a positive mindset, I realized that perhaps this position wasn't the best "fit" for me in other ways. Let me explain...

Style, Appearance and Fit

Have you ever been fitted for shoes? How many pairs of shoes do you try on before you find a pair that fit well?

Many years ago, I worked in western boot store. I learned how to "fit" boots and hats to customers as part of my job as retail sales clerk. I actually enjoyed working at this store. I liked the business, and I loved western wear (it was the 80's after all -- Urban Cowboy was hot!) When I first starting working at this store, I figured that the job was going to be easy. I mean, how hard is it to pick out and try on a pair of boots. Little did I know that learning how to fit boots or shoes takes time. It is not just about "trying" on as many pairs as possible; no, there really is a science to it. Some might even say that there is an "art" to it. For sure, this is true with hats. I learned how to form (shape) hats based on customer preference. I learned how to create "styles" by using my hands, and by creating creases and rounded tips. It was the best part of the job, in my view. I loved to shape hats. I digress. 

I did learn through that job that boots are particular to a person's shape of foot. Boots need to be fitted correctly in order to avoid causing foot problems down the road. There is an art to shaping a boot, and most good boots are hand-made. Boot wearers, in addition, are also particular. They tend to favor a particular type of boot. There are pointed, rounded, and square toed boots, and certain people and certain jobs lean to these types of boots. In all, my time in the boot store taught me that when it comes to finding a good fit, one must consider three things: the style, the appearance, and the fit. Without all three, more than likely, you will end up with a pair of boots that look good, but that hurt your feet. Or you will find a pair of boots that feel great, but are as "ugly as sin!" LOL!

1. Finding a Good Fit

When it comes to finding a job, I often treat the process like fitting a good pair of shoes. I think about the job itself, and then decide if the job description will be a good "fit" to my skills, abilities, and desires for performance and achievement. Most of the time, I focus only on the fit to make sure there are no places that "pinch" me or make me uncomfortable. Fit in a job search can be summed up in things like environment, duties, work/life balance. Often, fit simply is the way a job suits a particular person's interest rather than whether the job reflects their personality or their internal motivations. Thus, I tend to look at fit more so than appearance or style. In my view, fit is most important because in my past experience "fit" focuses on the parts that pinch!

Some of the things I have looked for in "fit" include:
  • Job title 
  • Job description
  • Job responsibilities - duties
  • Pay rate
Other things include the company profile, reviews, work/life balance, and whether or not there is room for advancement. In short, a good fit for me is a job that provides a good salary and the job title and duties align with my skills and abilities. I worry less about the appearance of the job and more about whether or not the job will meet my needs. Yes, to me, FIT is important.

2. Appearance and Style

I read a quote yesterday that said that upwards of 75% of people leave their jobs because of their boss and not the work itself (conditions, tasks, or work/life balance). WOW! That is a huge number of people leaving jobs they love simply because they don't get along or like their boss. This fact says to me that relationships are key in business as in life...so it is up to us to make them count! If you don't like the "fit" of a boss, it is highly unlikely that you will want to stay put and endure a difficult and at times hostile relationship. Yes, fit is important for sure, but also style and appearance do matter as well.

I have focused on finding a good job that "fits" my skills and abilities. This has been my focus for the past 7 years because finding that good fit meant finding a job I would enjoy doing day-in and day-out. Now, however, after spending time doing different types of jobs, I have decided that "fit" isn't the best indicator of good success. Instead, my focus recently has shifted to finding the best "styled" job.

When I use the words appearance and style in this way, I am saying that appearance is "the way that someone or something looks" (Dictionary.com) and style is the way in which something is designed or created. Style alludes to a thing's form or shape or characteristics whereas appearance is the way that form looks to others. Thus, appearance and style in job hunting reflect the way a job appears to you or how you see yourself in the role or position.

A good analogy to explain what I mean when I say finding the best "styled" job is to think about your most recent hair cut. For women, this analogy works. If you are like my good friend, who is a man, well then this won't work at all (and he knows why!) In terms of a style, many women are very particular about their hair. After all, a women is often called out regarding her beauty, and hair is one of the most attractive features on her body. Plus, hair can say a lot about a woman's attitude toward life, her personal view of beauty, and her confidence and control in her own essence. Hair to a woman, thus, is important in business as much as in her personal life.

I happen to wear my hair short. I have worn it long too, but now that I am in my 50's, I feel most comfortable with my hair medium length or shorter. If I say a good fit for me is a short to medium hair style, then most people understand that I mean hair that lands somewhere between my chin and my shoulders. However, just saying that I prefer to wear my hair this length says nothing as to the style I choose to wear. No, I prefer a style that is layered (cut into layers) and in a bob (cut to turn under). More so, the color I prefer to wear is golden caramel. It is a nice color that suits my skin, yet still covers my gray hair underneath. Furthermore, I need to wear bangs to hide my high forehead. So you see, my style is specific. I cannot just say I prefer a good fitting hair cut that is short-to-medium in length because that is not "good enough" to describe my best fit.

In comparison, when I have looked for work to do, my focus has been on finding a job that meets my minimum criteria such as one that pays well, offers work that is something I can do and enjoy, etc. The problem has been that over the course of the past three years, in particular, my style, my appearance or how I see myself has changed, and as such, I no longer see myself in the same way I did previously. I never realized just how important style and appearance are to me now. I mean, shouldn't I be happy seeing myself as employed versus unemployed? You would think that having a good paying job would be enough, more than enough, but in truth, it isn't. I think, and this is rather mind-blowing, that I have come to see that in life there is more than work to do. In life, there is passion, there is mission, there is vision -- and all of these things -- correlate to the desires God has given to me.

3. Understanding is Key

I guess this is the crux of this blog post today. I have come to understand that what I desire more in a job than purely a good "fit" (money, job title, or even job duties) is job satisfaction. I desire to be fully employed in a type of work that not only suits me (my personality, my abilities, etc.) but also represents my style or how I see myself. I guess I never realized just how much my PhD program would change me, really change me, and how completely and thoroughly I would come to see the world through new eyes. What I mean to say is this: my experience as a PhD student and now candidate has shaped the way I see myself, my abilities, and my pursuits. I am no longer simply looking for a good paying job anymore. No, I am looking for work that aligns with my education, my experience, and the desires God has placed within my heart and put on my mind. 

This means that no job will ever suit me. There is no job that will ever "fit" me or represent me the way that I would like it to do so. I can look for good practical work, which is what I say I want, but I now understand that this no longer will "fit the bill" so to speak. I no longer seek good work; instead, I seek good, fulfilling, God-pleasing work. I see work where I can use my ministry gifts, skills, and my knowledge to serve others. I seek ways to build up people, to encourage them, to help them come to see God's plan for their lives. Yes, my heart's desire is no longer to find a good job. My heart's desire is to do the work He has created me to do. There is nothing else that will satisfy me, my soul, my deep inner longing. I will only be content, happy and satisfied when I am doing the THING He has specifically created me to do.


In Closing

As I close out this blog post, I realize that I am right where God desires me to be. I am seeking His will for every area of my life. I have accepted that there is "no other" work besides His work, and the day-to-day job I do, while immaterial, is conditioned toward my gifts, talents, and natural abilities. In short, the work I do each day satisfies me when I know that it aligns to His will, uses my gifts and abilities to serve Him and others, and provides ways for me to grow in maturity and stature in my Christian faith. This means that while I am free to do other work, such as being an analyst, the only work that satisfies me now is being a teacher. The reason I am content, satisfied, is that while this job is not perfect (it does pinch me in places) it is the closest work I can do to ministry, and that is my heart's desire at this point in time. I am bent toward serving others, helping others, and the job I do has to bring me into a similar type of work. So while my calling is to help the church communicate faith more effectively, the work I do, the skills I use daily, serve to conform me and prepare me to be able to do that specific calling some day in the future. Thus, to be a professor is a good thing. It is good work that prepares me for full-time ministry in ways that out perform other professions, other more lucrative professions.

I guess what I am saying is that I have finally made the decision as to my life's work. I had thought I had made up my mind previously, but the reasons I had for deciding on teaching were based on material things and not spiritual things. In my view, spiritual always trumps material. I know I tend to think about "money and possessions" to some extent, but in all cases, if I had to choose between the two things, I would always choose God's side or His design or His way. No matter how much I wish I had more income right now, I wouldn't give up my love for His work even if I was offered a million dollars to do it. Nope, there is no other way, but His way.

So, with that said, I am content now to remain a professor. I am content now to choose this way because I see how valuable it is toward preparing me for ministry. I am trusting God to provide and meet my needs, but my hope and my faith rests in His abilities and not in mine. I am ready to do this work, to devote my life to it, and the rest of it -- the practical, the monetary, and the provision -- well, that is up to Him to provide. He will do it. He is good. He is so very good to me. Selah!

Update - Rejection Notice Received

Shortly after I completed this blog post, I received my reject notice from UHC. It is fate, kismet, destiny! The email was the standard fare that said my qualifications were impressive but that they had other candidates with more experience. Uh, really? This was a job that required one-year of business experience only. A degree was preferred. I realized I was over qualified right away, but still I thought there might be a possibility. Oh well...on to greener pastures as they say! God is driving this bus, and I have to believe He has a better plan for me!

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