I did everything professors, advisers and career counselors told students to do. I made the great grades, joined professional organizations, secured internships, and did all the other things they recommended to get a good job out of college. So why didn’t I have one?
It was November 2015 and with graduation in one month, I was still pretty confident I would get a job before graduating. I was on step 5 out of 7 steps for a interview process with BP and I convinced myself that it was for me. I already imagined what my co-workers would be like, the routes I would take to work, and of course, what I was going to do with all that money I would be making! (lol). However, my dreams came crashing down one memorable evening. While out celebrating a friend’s birthday, I received an unexpected email from BP. As I scrolled down to read the email, my heart sunk. It read something like this, ‘Mariam, thank you for applying to BP. Unfortunately, we regret to inform you that you will not be moving forward in the interview process. We wish you all the best in your career endeavors.’ After reading it I was in utter shock. Were they serious? Convinced that it was a mistake, I contacted a recruiter to make sure the email was sent to the right person. Once I came to my senses, the reality of the situation really set in. I was graduating in a month, and I still had not gotten my big girl job.
As graduation night came around, I was elated. Accompanied by friends and family, I was encouraged to stay hopeful. “Don’t worry,” my mother said “January, you will find a job. Relax.” Listening to my mother’s encouraging words managed to ease my worries at the time, but as January passed, and February and March, her comforting words soon faded. I was still unemployed! Doubt, worry and utter confusion filled my mind. I knew people said it would be hard, but daaang, I didn’t realize to this extent! I would go on many interviews but all to no avail. No matter how well i thought the interview went, I would always get hit with a rejection email in my inbox. It was only a matter of time before I began to wrestle with God and question His goodness. I would always ask Him, why is this happening? Lord I thought you wanted me to be a marketing major? Lord why do you want me to be a bum!? Jesus why you gotta do me like this! It sounds funny now, but these were some of the hardest moments in my life.When you start to believe God doesn’t have your best interest at heart, it gets real! Eventually, I was able to finally see what the Lord was revealing to me about Him, and about myself.
1. I was not Completely Dependent upon God
As I looked at my dwindling bank account, I began to panic. I only had so much of my savings to live off of and I really didn’t know what God’s intentions were. Peace quickly left me, my joy was gone and I had no rest. It was traumatizing getting out of bed, applying to countless jobs that seemed imaginary, and having to wake up the next day to do it all over again. But the Holy Spirit started to convict me. He began to ask me questions. ‘Mariam where do you get your joy from, where does peace come from, what about your rest? Who brings provision?’ Once I realized this I instantly had to repent because I knew I was not walking in complete dependence in God but in the things He created. We get our peace from God. We get our joy from Him. We have rest in Him. At the time I had none of these things because I was depending on a job to give me these things. Once I got that revelation it was an instant shift. I was completely worry free. I had no idea how I was going to get the money to pay my bills but I wasn’t stressed because God was my provision, not a job. The funny thing, is before this situation happened, If you asked me if I was 100% dependent on God I would say yes. As much as we hate to be in times of despair, it is in these times that the true character of our hearts really come to full surface. It is here that God is able to draw us nearer and challenge our growth. Don’t be so quick to get out of a tough situation because 9 times out of 10, God will use it to build your character. In Psalms 139:23-24 it says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Instead of being upset with God for “putting” you in a situation, ask Him what is it that He is trying to reveal to you about His character or what He wants to show you about yours.
Miraculously, I was never in lack and I was able to pay for my bills in unexpected ways. I remember one moment in particular when I had only $34 to my name and my car insurance was due within a couple of days. I called them to see if it was possible to extend my due date to the week after when I would have the money to pay. The first lady I talked to told me how there was nothing she could do and it was impossible to change my due date because it was time for my policy renewal and it could only be renewed on the specified date. She advised that I find a way to get the money or else I would be dropped from my insurance and would have to pay a hefty fee for being late. Can you imagine. Now normally, I would have been panicking and stressing out, but not this time. I grew to know that God is my provider and He always comes through no matter the situation. I decided to call again and I asked God to give me favor this time around. When I called the second time, I shared my situation with the representative and to my amazement, not only was I able to extend my due date, but I also was able to lower my bill! This is just one of the many experiences I’ve had where God showed off His power and authority. This is what happens when we put all of our dependence on Christ. Seemingly impossible situations, are easily made possible.
2. I Received my Worth from People
During this time going anywhere was a pain. I hated having to answer the dreaded question, “So what are you doing since you graduated? Have you gotten a job?” It wasn’t their questions that bothered me more so than the reality of my response. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t have a job because to me, it meant I wasn’t doing anything with my life. I would hate to be around people because I would always feel less than, compared to everyone else. I was just collecting dust as other people were living their lives while mine was in slow motion. Why is it that we put our worth and value on things that will pass away? Unfortunately our society only flourishes on the notion that your worth comes from the things you have or what you look like. I felt worthless because I equated having a job with being valuable. The word worthy means deserving effort, attention, or respect. In our world, the rich, the successful, the powerful and the good-looking, are viewed as ‘worthy’ and if you are perceived to be opposite of these things, society says you are not enough. Of course these things in themselves are not bad, but once we begin to idolize them and seek to get our identity from them versus God, that is where the problem lies. If you base your value on things that can be taken from you or don’t last, then who will you be without them? Our identity should always be in Christ and not in things that will perish. I had to relearn what it means to identify with Christ in all aspects of my life and not just the obvious. Think about whatever is your greatest aspiration or your biggest achievements you’ve had. What would happen if you never attain these things or have them stripped from you? Will you still be as confident as you are now? Would you still consider yourself to be worthy of respect or attention? Philippians 3:8 says ‘For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.’ Do you agree that being esteemed, successful, educated, wealthy or anything else you value is trash in comparison to knowing Christ? If you never receive these things will He really be enough?
3. A Shift in Focus
It’s fairly easy to be depressed when you are constantly thinking about your problems and nothing else. I chose to find comfort in pitying myself versus seeking the comfort of Jesus. Thankfully, as time went on I was able to realize how I was letting the cares of this world choke the word of God from me (Mark 4:19). It was then that I refused to allow my emotions to take me away from the presence of God. I would no longer let my worldly problems stop me from giving Him glory and the up-most devotion in my life. My yearning to find God in my seemingly hopeless situation led me to the book of Revelations and it was there that God changed my perspective. As I began to study this book its like my eyes finally opened. My seemingly large problem of not having a job instantly became minute to the reality of God and His kingdom. This Earth is not our eternal home but it is one that we are dwelling in temporarily until we will live with the Father forever in the fullness of His glory. When we live in light of eternity our minds naturally adjusts from worldly thinking, to the reality of Jesus and His will for our lives. Let us not be so consumed with the issues of day to day life that we forget to see the bigger picture that is set before us. The bible says “Let us fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Apart from Christ, nothing else really matters. And it is in times of pain that we find true joy and comfort in the simplicity of knowing God and being His child.
You can read Part 2 of this series here.
Until next time!