“Seriously? Another rejection? Why do I keep getting so close only to be turned down again?”
It was 2015 and I had just interviewed for a position that seemed perfect for me. I would have been the Show/Office Administrator for a company that produced home and garden exhibitions. In my mind, this position was a great combination of my previous experience and my natural ability to organize things. The hiring manager seemed to feel differently.
It was discouraging to run into yet another roadblock on the way to gainful employment. I thought I had all my ducks in a row this time. The interview went well overall, but the result was the same as it had been for months. It was exhausting. And more often than not, wildly disappointing. I was doing all the right things, why wasn’t I making any progress?
I’ve had many such scenarios creep up over the years. Whether it was a job, a relationship, or some other endeavor, sometimes I took all the right steps and still ended up back at square one. Frustration, and sometimes despair, can easily creep in when things aren’t going my way. Only when I become teachable do I learn to handle things differently and change course where needed.
As I follow Jesus, I begin to recognize the patterns in my life that aren’t helpful or healthy. In the case of the job interviews, I recognized that God had no intention of opening a door He didn’t want me to walk through. When it comes to relationships, He’s closed doors that once were open. I tried everything in my power to make those situations turn out in my favor and still, they didn’t. At that point, I had one of two choices. I could choose to believe God is who He says He is and trust His direction for my life, or I could continue to “kick against the goad.” I did some quick research on this phrase found in Acts 26:14 and found that a goad was a long, sharp stick that was used to nudge oxen. Since the animals understandably didn’t want to be poked with these objects, they would kick it. Eventually, they would learn there was more pain in kicking the goad than there was in letting their direction be dictated.
If I am consumed by what I hope will be the result of all my efforts, I become a slave to that thing, and there is no end to my disappointment if it doesn’t pan out. I start to focus on all that has gone wrong or could go wrong, instead of realizing God is working all things for my good. John Mark Comer said, “As long as we are attached to outcomes, we will never live free.”
I am slowly learning that the outcome doesn’t matter nearly as much as what I’m putting my trust in to reach the desired destination. Instead of focusing on results, I need to first seek God’s wisdom and ask Him to fill my heart with His desires. When I do this, I am submitting my will to His and able to trust that the path I am on is a good one.
I have to remember that God wants to give me good gifts, but only He knows what those truly are.
God knows my way better than I do, and when the right job, person, or anything else comes along, no power will be able to halt its arrival. I have to remember that God wants to give me good gifts, but only He knows what those truly are. The rest of it, the things that don’t work out, are gifts of a different sort. These are the gifts that have the potential to draw me close to the Giver if I let them. If I am willing to accept them, there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom waiting to be unwrapped.
If a situation doesn’t end the way I hoped it would, no amount of me wishing I had done something differently is going to change it. Instead, I can choose to accept that the thing I was striving for wasn’t meant to be in my life long term. I can agree with James 1:3-4: “My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.”
We can trust that if He has begun a good work in us, He will bring it to completion—but it won’t happen until the day Christ returns. (Philippians 1:6) In the meantime, we get to practice. We get to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. This work is conforming us to the image of Christ and preparing us for the new heavens and new earth. We are being trained for the world we were always meant to live in. This is heaven mingling with earth in the here and now.
In the end, it’s not about me anyway. My purpose is to show up for God’s glory—not mine. In the case of my job situation, that meant working several temp jobs until one of them finally turned into full-time employment. And do you know what? I didn’t end up loving that job; I left after a year and a half. I returned to a company that I had previously worked for, and I resigned two months ago. Now, I’m slowly trying to build my own business. I have no idea how it’s going to work out, but it doesn’t matter. I know the God who is working it all out for my good.