Double-edged 真理報雙語版

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A bilingual and bicultural Christian young adults blog //////////////// 青年華裔基督徒的博客

Jobless Meanderings

*Exciting new writer*

Pseudonymous

Being laid off isn’t fun. Your identity, to a large extent (although it shouldn’t be), is attached to what you do for a living. I am particularly proud of my living because I have a cool job: I’m a fashion designer. I went to Ryerson. I’m artistic. I’m creative. I’m different. I’m unique—and I’m proud of it. Landing my first job was a proud moment. Prestigious agency, fancy job title, working downtown—and I loved what I did. I was on my way. Or so I thought.

When I got laid off three years later, I cried and cried and cried. Why God? It doesn’t make sense. Things were going so well. Why God? What’s the purpose? What was the point? I tried to remember Romans 8:28. I tried to make sense of it somehow; I tried to understand my situation—to wrap it up in a pretty package with a bow on top, ready to present my case on how good my God was, even in the midst of pain. That’s what I tried to do, but in reality all I could think was: “Haven’t I been good? Haven’t I done everything you’ve wanted me to do? Isn’t it about time to be rewarded and be happy? Why aren’t you letting me be happy?”

Resumé after resumé, interview after interview, month after month, and still nothing to show for it. Then all of a sudden, light!

When I saw a job posting that I was really keen on, I was all to eager to write the ending of my story: “AHA! This is the reason I got laid off; so that I could work at this new company! You’re sneaky, God, you almost had be fooled but now I see the bigger picture and how you’re preparing me for something better.” Suddenly the heavens opened and I saw the light again. Spirit re-kindled, I submitted my resume and waited.

Nothing.

Waited some more.

Nothing again.

I worked up the courage to finally call this company—heart beating fast, sweaty-palmed and all. To my delight, they seemed genuinely excited to hear from me. “See,” I thought, “It’s coming together, all God needed was a little bit of my help to push it along.” They said they’d call me back. Great!

Waited. Waited. Waited.

Nothing.

Worked up the courage to sheepishly call them again. They said they were already doing interviews already but would call me, if needed.

I was slightly devastated, but my die-hard optimism left me hopeful that they might call back. Darn you, weather-proof optimism. When it sunk in that they weren’t going to call, I was more confused than ever. “What the heck, God. This doesn’t make sense. I thought we had an agreement. I thought this job was mine. Why aren’t you giving it to me?”

A few months passed, my EI was running out, and I was getting desperate. Thankfully, at just the right time, a job prospect called me back to work for a three-month contract. My ego still took hit because this was an entry-level position in a company I said I’d never work for. This job title was more of an assistant’s job: no creativity whatsoever, but I accepted their offer because I was fast running out of options.

What amazes me is this: Even though God knew how proud my heart was, he would still choose to bless this ungrateful daughter. It took a few weeks, but as I got into my routine and got familiar with the work, I started to enjoy myself. As mentioned earlier, the work is mindless, but it’s actually kind of fun. The people are amazing.

And of course, God had everything to do with it. I mentioned before how losing your job means losing your identity. Without a job, I started to really question my purpose in life. What’s the point of getting up every day? What was I made for? Did I make God mad? If not, why aren’t things working out for me?

With time, my good friends helped me understand that I was MADE creative by God. In fact, it’s my very nature to be creative; it’s not just something I chose to do on a whim or a back-up plan along the way: it’s the very core of who I am. This leads to my second question of what my purpose of life is.

To answer this question, I want to introduce to you a well-known friend: John the Baptist. He was in some sense, Jesus’ side-kick. But his character is truly amazing. He knew who he was: he was nothing more than Jesus’ assistant. What’s more, he was totally satisfied, fulfilled and—dare I say it—even happy playing second fiddle. He wasn’t jealous when his disciples abandoned him to follow Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the super star and that his existence was to point to Jesus and give him the glory, not take it for himself.

Wow. Reality check. How often is it that I want the glory? How often is it that I want the spotlight? How often is it that I want (my idea of) the best, for myself and myself alone? You know what I’m talking about: a fancy job, a nice car, a cozy house—essentially, the things that the world strives for. Furthermore, why is it that I want these things? Is it because someone else has them or because I think they will make me happy? Who am I trying to impress, anyway? When I’m at work and I mindlessly laugh at a crude joke in an effort to blend in, who am I trying to impress? And why? Is it more important that I fit in, or that I stand for truth? And then it hit me: what if Jesus made me to be mediocre?

What if, just like John, my purpose in this world isn’t to be a super-star fashion designer or to make a name for myself, but what if it’s just to be employee no BBY8611: a nameless, faceless, production machine. Could I be happy with that? Would I still praise God? Could I be truly joyful, or would I have to fake it for the rest of my life?

I’ve had to do a lot of letting go over the past few months, and the job status is one of those areas. I’ve been holding onto Psalm 57:2 lately: “I cry out to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”

My idea of prayer has changed over this past year. I used to think that I could sway God’s favor in proportion to how earnestly I prayed. I would pray my heart out, sometimes with tears of self-pity, sometimes tears of just plain confusion and hurt. And the psalm does literally say, “cry out to God”, I’m coming to understand that praying isn’t so much about getting what we want but aligning our will with God’s. A prayer of, “God please give me this job” is weak because God knows your needs he doesn’t need us to tell him what we need him to do to amend our problems. Is God quick to forget? Or are we hoping that God will get annoyed and finally give in like the parable of the neighbor who had to get up at midnight? But ahh, a prayer of “God please provide, I’m waiting on you”. That gives God room to work. That’s when we look to God and understand that he can answer in ways we cannot even imagine, and that we trust him to do so. That is when we take all of us: our needs, our desires, our dreams, our hopes, passions, our very souls—and put them at God’s feet—at his mercy, and at his disposal if he so desires. That is when we become vulnerable to God and completely aware that just as God gives he can take away as well. That is when we are able to hold onto what God gives us but with open hands (as a wise friend of mine has said).

So, in a sense, praying is less about getting what you want and more about letting go of what you want, by entrusting them to the very capable and caring hands of God. Equally important from this verse is the second half of it: knowing that it is GOD who made you; it is GOD who has a purpose for you; and it is GOD who will fulfill his purpose for you.

We easily plan out our lives and make timelines and fit everything into boxes we can understand and control. But what we know is so little. What we want is too less. I was encouraged by another friend’s ease in trusting God. She reminded me that God has options for us that we can’t even see, or that we don’t even know about—that’s why we can trust that what God has planned for us is better than anything we could plan or imagine for ourselves. I may have many “purposes” in my life, but at the end of the day, it’s only God’s purpose that will count because God’s sovereignty ensures it.

So I speak to those who are weary, to those who have lost control, to those who do not understand. Take heart. God knows you intimately, and his plans for you will succeed. And isn’t that the point of it all? To do God’s will means you’ve done what you’re supposed to do in your short time on earth.

So, to God be the glory. And who knows about the future. When my three-month contract ends, who knows where I’ll be after that. But I understand more so now that there is a certain freedom about letting go. It’s the freedom from being perfect, or at least, finding the perfect solution. Instead of fixing my eyes on one thing and praying, “God I want this and only this will make me happy” I am better able to say, this time around, “God, I have no idea what to do, where to go, what to choose but you have a plan for me and you will make things fit together to fulfill your plan. Help me take it step by step, day by day, always following where you’ll lead me.”

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Welcome

"Double-edged"is bilingual blog in affiliation with Truth Monthly, a Chinese Christian monthly print publication based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This blog features mostly original writings as well as comics, poetry, and other works of art by local Christian young adults.

For more information or to submit your own writing, please email tm.double.edged@gmail.com

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