Friday, March 1, 2013

I Fear Voices


Sometimes it seems easy to only listen to voices of fear. If I am looking at a job opportunity advertisement, there are two possible fear-related voices I can hear. One voice is imploring me to apply for the job, in fear that this application may stand between me and facing the difficulties of unemployment. The second voice declares that applying for this job would be a waste of time, since I am not good enough for the job. Both of these voices shout at me at varying volumes dependent on the characteristics of the job and how I am feeling at the time. 

I think this level of cognitive effort might be what can make job searching such a taxing process. When I spend effort trying to silence these emotional voices of fear, I am not thinking clearly. Even the more healthy fear that encourages me to try can still be debilitating.

In Luke 8, Jesus’ disciples were crippled by the deafening voices of fear. The winds and waves tossed their little fishing boat so that the water began to close in. They must have been very confused at the contrast between this dangerous situation and the peaceful slumber of Jesus amidst all of it.

In this situation, it seems like the disciples may have ceased thinking clearly. The voices of fear may have been telling them that Jesus was just a really deep sleeper and he did not know what was happening. Maybe they were thinking that he was sleeping because he did not care about them. 

Finally, the disciples did what I need to do. They alerted Jesus, simultaneously admitting their fear and acknowledging his authority. He responded by calming the storm. Their fear was vanquished. They knew Jesus was in control. 

I know there is a plan and that it is a perfectly good plan. Amidst the wind, I pray that God will grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Obscurity or Oprah?


I have to admit that sometimes I long to be heard. I will have some interesting epiphany while riding my bicycle or taking a shower. From there I want to move on to do a little background work to support or refute whatever idea has taken me captive. If that does not send me down the rabbit hole of obscurity, the next step is a difficult one. My thoughts start to build pressure and I wonder: “who might benefit from this insight?” Eventually, that question gets reduced to; “who would not be utterly frustrated and annoyed by listening to me ramble about this?” Finally, I look for an opportunity and jump at the chance even if it is not necessary. 

Since you are reading something I have written, you probably have found yourself in this category. You also might be one of the ones who has at times regretted that you were too nice to somehow prevent me from needlessly sharing one of my rants with you. I am sorry. I feel like God has called me to think deeply and share my thoughts with others, yet this does not make it right to share when the situation is not appropriate.

In reading about the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4, I wonder if Jesus may have had similar feelings to my own. He had more insight for the world than anyone. He saw the injustice and spiritual apathy in his world. Surely Jesus had volumes of valuable wisdom to share, yet he spent the first 30 years of his life listening and working with hands. Then someone comes along and offers Jesus the chance to go from obscurity to Oprah, with all the world hanging on his every word.

Thankfully, Jesus did not jump the gun. Instead, he pointed to his father to sustain him. He spoke when his father led him to speak, in a time in which his words were needed. 

I know this word has implications for my own desire to be heard. How about you? Do you think you should consider carefully your timing and audience with your next tweet, status update, or blog post?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Denied: The Shotgun Approach


When I was in high school/college, I struggled with rejection. People say that you need to simply “shake it off,” but it is not always that easy. I would find myself personally invested in an opportunity and be devastated if it did not come out in my favor. I would wonder for hours about what went wrong. Rejection sometimes motivates people to try harder and succeed when the next opportunity arises, but it had the opposite effect on me. It would make me want to roll over and not consider myself at all worthy of attacking  the next opportunity.

Then after finishing graduate school (my master’s), I had to get a job. The market was not good, so I knew I needed to work really hard. So I tried the shotgun approach. I pounded the keyboard day after day. I sent out one or two applications a day. I applied if the opportunity was even remotely related to my training. After a month or so of this routine, the rejection letters started to roll in. As they did, I noticed something strange. I did not really care. I thought it was funny because here I was getting this nice letter about a job for which I did not even remember filling out an application. After a while, I ended up getting a job that I loved. 

Later on, I used the same technique with online dating. I would see a new match and gauge my gut reaction, then I would quickly send her a message without thinking too much. I sent these messages quickly enough that I would not always remember them, so not getting a response would not phase me. Again, the technique worked. I did find the love of my life.

Although I do recommend that others try my technique, it may not work for others. My ingenuity is not the point of my story. I think improving my ability to cope with rejection has been one avenue that God has used to transform me into someone that is more capable of being successful in life. Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 3:18 that we are continually being shaped in his likeness. In the same chapter, Paul also wrote that being in God’s company espouses freedom and boldness.

As I now find myself in a position of job searching once again, I am not completely free and bold. Thankfully, I can look back and see growth. I am still learning, being shaped and molded. I pray that I will continue to seek the sweet nectar of freedom!

Friday, February 1, 2013

To Wait


I started to feel a little anxious. The opportunity looked good, possibly even attainable. Unfortunately, they wanted one thing that I lacked. They needed me to send them a transcript. Having been around several different colleges, I had the feeling that this might not be an easy or quick process. Recalling previous experiences with long lines, I requested that they send me the transcript in the mail, thinking: “only 4 miles away, how long could it take?” Then I started to wait.

Five days came and went with no transcript. With my anxiety rising, I decided to call. The person at the office told me that it usually only takes 5 minutes to get one in person. The next day, I was on campus and contemplating whether to go or wait. I listened to an internal voice speaking of continuous chaos around the bend. I wondered if it had gotten lost in the mail (which has never happened to me before), or if the days I might have to wait longer could cost me this job opportunity. After all the contemplation, I let my anxiety win and I went by the office. There was no line and it took about 5 minutes.

About an hour after I got home and began the process of completing my application, I heard the mail slot close and saw the letter containing my transcript fall to the linoleum. 

Waiting is a theme in the Bible. Esau sold his birthright because he could not wait long enough. Abraham could not wait for God to give him a son with his wife Sara, so he had a child with Hagar. The Israelites in the desert could not wait long enough, so they made a statue. Despite the difficulty, the prophets in the Old Testament speak very often of the virtue of waiting on God. In Luke 12, Jesus told his disciples not to worry, but to wait and be ready to open the door.

Even though I believe the promises of God, it is still hard to wait! How do you wait? How do you silence the control-seeking voice in your head?


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