I am unemployed. I very rarely say those words out loud. I have adopted the phrase, “I’m in-betwween jobs right now” or occasionally “I’m actually not working right now.” The word “unemployed” comes with so much baggage. At first I thought it was because I was uncomfortable with not having a job or ashamed. I’m not. I’m loving this season. I’ve been more productive over the last six weeks than I’ve been in months. I was afraid of people’s reaction, of people’s perceptions. I was afraid of being seen as lazy or incompetent, as being labeled a “typical millennial” or viewed as some sort of failure. I was afraid someone would assume I had gotten fired or let go (from my almost three year gig at Chick Fil a… Yeah, I don’t think so). It is amazing how much I allow other people’s baggage to become my own.
And sometimes I’ve been right to project these thought patterns onto other people. I’ve gotten used to the occasional unsolicited job advice. “I hear they’re hiring at…” “My [friend, sister, cousin] got a job at…” Other people are usually more uncomfortable with my employment than I am. To be fair, most people have actually been great and asked me what steps I’m taking and what jobs I’m looking for. But still, people are so quick to put their own connotations on my employment status, often without asking me how I feel about it.
Now, I’m not an idiot. I know eventually savings will run out and that I should be bringing in an income before that happens. I don’t think for a second that my parents will allow me to set up shop at their kitchen table forever. A traditional job is in my near future.
But since my last day at CFA, I’ve found myself avoiding social situations so I don’t have to answer the traditional questions about what I’m up to. The often innocent question leads to me admitting that I’m unemployed, living with my parents and until about two weeks ago, car-less. Recently, however, I tried this new thing where I was just honest. I realized the outside perception of my life was only a small fraction of the reality. And to my surprise, most people responded really well when I explained what I’ve been up to. I’m sure most people’s idea of unemployment is sitting on the couch eating Cheetos and binge-watching EVERYTHING on Netflix. And while I have watched more Netflix than ever before and developed a new late night gluten-free cookies & ice cream habit, there has been so much more to this season for me.
Right now I am essentially self employed without any of that, oh yeah, income. I get up every morning when I feel rested enough and sit down at the kitchen table where I don’t leave until usually dinner (or whenever I need to run a sibling to an appointment). I drink coffee and listen to music and watch videos until I reach a completely creative mindset that allows me to work ceaselessly for hopefully a few hours. I type out notebooks of 2-3 year old chapters of a novel until my wrists hurt from hitting the laptop keyboard. And then usually every few days I take a break where I sit with my journal and write about how useless I feel, how I feel like I no longer have value because I’m not getting up every morning and working a 9 to 5, how frustrated I am that making art every day is so much harder than I thought I’d be. Because honestly it’s really hard being face to face with the limits of your own mind and skillset and internal motivation. There’s no boss who will penalize me if I don’t clock in on time. No one is going to call me if I don’t come in. There’s no one to call for help if the job gets too hard or confusing. It’s just me and all the doubts in my own mind telling me I’m not good enough, that I’m wasting my time, that everyone’s ashamed of me. The power of the human mind is incredible.
And then usually right when it gets completely overwhelming, I get a text out of the blue from a friend saying they were thinking about me and just wanted to remind me to trust God’s timing. And then I remember that I’m not in this alone.
I truly fully believe that God has placed me on this earth in this time period with these passions and talents and desires for a reason. I believe I was made to do things no one else can do, that I am uniquely equipped and created for a purpose. And above all that, I believe that I serve a God who already has a perfect path laid out for me. When I stop and remind myself of all that, the fear disappears. Because God’s got me. And He’s not intimidated by the dwindling numbers in my bank account or the limits of my training or the time that’s already passed me by or the opportunities already here and gone. He knows what is best for me and best for the world as a whole, best for His entire master plan. All I have to do is continually seek His will and stay faithful to whatever season He has me in, whether that’s getting up every morning and putting in the unpaid hours at my kitchen table or putting on a uniform and giving my all at a nine to five. I have the incredible privilege of being used by the Creator of the Universe to make the world a better place and that alone is worth enduring a season of unemployment for.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).