After I graduated from college, I enjoyed an extended time of unemployment…Well, enjoyed is probably a rather strong word. It was really more like ‘was afflicted with’ or ‘suffered through’. Aside from some occasional babysitting, I was having a hard time finding work. Just to let you know, occasional babysitting does not pay the bills. I was strapped for cash, even for basic necessities. That is not a fun place to exist. Thankfully, I had the blessing of a landlord/mom who was willing to let me live rent-free in a place she owned until either 1) I found a job or 2) it was 6 months after I graduated, whichever came first. So, I at least had a place to sleep and call home. However, it was extremely stressful to not be able to do the responsible things I so desired to do, like pay my rent and support myself.
It’s not that I wasn’t trying to find a job. I had turned in application after application and submitted resumes, sometimes even in places where there weren’t posted job openings. There were a few interviews that seemed promising, only to have the position dissolve, or the person that was being replaced decide to stay after all. Each time it seemed like something out from left field came up that prevented me from stepping into this professional career that I had worked so hard toward. I wasn’t sure what God was up to.
See, God spoke to my heart before I even graduated and told me that He was going to bring my first job to me and that it was going to be at a place where I would feel safe. I wasn’t really sure what He meant by that completely. Was this going to be something that just popped up out of nowhere, or was it going to be a miracle after miracle kind of journey as I took steps toward employment? I was also confused about the feeling safe part. When He spoke that to me, I immediately responded, “Well, God, the only place I feel safe is at church,” and I could not see how there would even be a position for me there, not to mention that didn’t at all fit my degree. I found myself walking a path of choosing to trust Him to do what He said He would, while still doing my part in it. So, I applied and submitted and interviewed…and continued walking away without employment.
I began to really struggle financially. I had gone through the little bit that I had in the bank and was living off of babysitting money and other random side-jobs that I could pick up. And of course, I said yes to any work that I could get, even if it kept my schedule so full I barely had time to get a decent nights sleep. With random expenses that come up, like needing new tires or an alternator, it seemed like every time I got a little money, I had to spend it. It got pretty tight, too. There were times when I had $10 until my next paying job that would be a week or more away. I would use that for a little gas if needed, and something like a box of cereal so that I could have at least one meal each day. I definitely knew where every penny was going. And yes, I do have experience paying for a cheap fast food sandwich with pennies.
I found myself teetering back and forth with God during this time as well. Did I hear Him correctly? Could I trust Him in this? Was He going to provide for me? I reminded myself often that I could have it worse. There are people in this world who don’t even get one meal a day, who don’t have a car to take them to where they can find work, who don’t have a comfortable place to sleep…it really could be worse. I became more purposeful than ever at practicing thankfulness for what I had.
There was one week in particular that really stretched my confidence in my Provider God. I had $0. I didn’t have any paying jobs on the calendar. I had run out of all of my food…I didn’t have anything. I bit my pride and started to call around in desperation to people I knew asking if there were any kinds of jobs I could do for them for any amount of money. I had one that had something for me to do, but it was a week away. I took it of course and continued to pray and let God know that I was choosing to trust Him to provide for me despite my grumbling stomach.
I ran into someone I know from church and ended up being asked if I would mind helping serve food at their daughter’s wedding the next day. It wasn’t a paid job, it would be volunteer, but I figured it would be better to keep busy and be around people than to sit at home and sulk in my place of lacking. Besides, being focused on tasks kept me from feeling hungry or thinking about my financial concerns. So, I joined the serving team at the wedding and had a great time with people I love, doing something that was blessing this couple who were throwing a wedding for their all grown up, little girl.
I had run out of all of my food…I didn’t have anything.
As the reception was winding down, the parents of the bride came over to thank us for our service. Then they told us to please pack up a box of the leftover food to take home. I felt so thankful, more than they know, for that gesture. I conservatively packed a box, not wanting to appear to take an excessive amount. But wouldn’t you know, that box of food lasted me exactly a week, until the day I had my next job. God provided for me. Not in the way I was expecting or even hoping, but I did not go hungry.
And the next month (6 months after I graduated), I had someone from church ask me if I was willing to go to lunch with her to discuss something. At that lunch, I was essentially offered a position at the church doing something that I had done as a side-job since I was a teenager. A month later, I found myself starting my first day of work at the church, the place where I felt safe. God had completely done this for me. I never applied to the church or asked anyone about working there. He put me on someone else’s heart and that someone else pursued me. He brought my first job to me. He brought me food when I had none. He even brought me enough work to pay my mom the first month’s rent which came due before I started working.
Like many parts of my journey, this path to employment was not an easy one to walk, but to know God as my faithful provider when I had absolutely nothing and no decent way of providing for myself…to KNOW I can trust Him to watch out for me…I wouldn’t trade it for anything.