Returning and Rest
I moved to Saints Rest with my parents after my grandfather died. I attended grad school and then left for a job. After two years, my position was cut and I moved home again fully expecting to find another job and move away. I was unemployed for five months but I’d been looking for a job since before Christmas the year before. The next job I took was a full-time temporary position, six months to replace another librarian who was on sabbatical. I never stopped applying for jobs and it was still another six months after that contract expired until I found another position. Essentially, I was looking for work for two years.
My time of unemployment was actually not that bad. I was collecting unemployment, so I could pay my bills. I was living with my parents and grandmother and they were gracious enough not to kick me out. I had time to write. I learned how to sew. I baked. I read. Almost the worst part about those collective eleven months was actually looking for work. Finding positions, tweaking cover letters, going to interviews, getting my hopes up, or wasting my time for positions that turned out to be completely wrong for me; It was stressful.
The absolute worst part, however, was the feeling of being stuck. Sure, rejection stinks (I have a file folder in my email entitled “You Suck” that contains all my rejection emails, the “you” in question being me), but I learned not to take it too personally. I mean, I’m pretty awesome, just maybe not the same kind of awesome they were looking for.
But after a while you start wondering what’s going on. God has some plan, right? It can’t be for me to live with my parents forever, can it? Surely I’d be moving on to what I was really supposed to be doing. Any minute now. Any minute.
And yet, it didn’t come.
So, what do you do with that? I struggled. I thought about running away from home. I’m not sure that’s the right term for getting in your car and just driving west until you run out of gas and then getting a job as a waitress or something in whatever town you stopped. I was ready to just DO something.
And then I found Isaiah 30 and the following verses really stuck with me:
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
Okay, more verse 15 than that odd bit in the middle about fleeing from threats, but it’s Isaiah after all. “In repentance and rest is your salvation”. I hadn’t exactly been living the life God wanted for me before I lost my job and moved home. I made some stupid decisions, did things I probably wouldn’t have done if I’d been surrounded by family and friends. “In quietness and trust is your strength”. Things were awfully quiet now, living in the middle of nowhere. Did I trust God? “But you would have none of it”.
I had a choice. I could reject where God had me. I could “flee on horses” from where God had put me. Or I could repent, find rest, take the quietness of that time and get closer to God. That weird bit in the middle? Doesn’t sound exactly pleasant. I’m convinced that God would have allowed me to run away, but what would have been left of me by the time I returned, if I returned?
And yet, it is God’s plan to show grace to us. He will show mercy, compassion. There is a promise here and it helped me to finally see it. Perhaps I was “stuck” but I realized that I was stuck exactly where I needed to be. And, strangely enough, once I realized that, God moved me. Not away, but into different paths (it didn’t help that I was an idiot and still needed a few knocks to the head to correct me). I shudder to think where I would be right now if I’d gone on my own path . . . read the rest of Isaiah 30 if you want to see where that leads.
I thank God for his mercy and grace, for keeping me stuck. So, maybe it wasn’t the absolute worst.