Monday, July 19, 2004

Monday, Monday....

What a day.  Not at all the way I would have planned it, I'm afraid.
Good news...had a great weekend checking out Camp Algonquin, way up in the northwest corner of Chicagoland.  Went past (but didn't go into) Willow Creek Community Church - one of the biggest churches in the nation, and home of Pastor Bill Hybels (author of Too Busy Not To Pray and other good things). Had a great time reflecting on my "faith journey," and sharing some of the amazing twists and turns it has taken over the years with my spiritual formation team-mates (Lisa, Barb, and Dirk).  Working through this project, one week at a time, is probably one of the better ideas I've had shared with me at seminary!
Bad news...mid-afternoon, I found out that the temporary full-time employment I had been told was "all lined up" to start Wednesday fell through.  For about an hour, I really was getting annoyed with God...feeling very Job-like.  The conversation went something like this..."Alright, GOD...just what were you thinking about with this one, GOD?  What part of your will is it that I get to keep suiting up and showing up, and people keep telling me "Yes...." but never actually commiting? I'm not asking for my old job back - I'm not asking for anything desperate like benefits or anything.  Just enough of a wage to keep from being evicted, and having the power turned off.  Is that really so demanding?...."

It's funny, in a way, because a friend had turned me on to this great quote from Thomas a' Kempis (from The Imitation of Christ) that talked about times of consolation and desolation, and the way I reacted, I felt like such a hypocrite for sending that out.  The only thing that kept me from sending out a second e-mail saying, "Don't pay any attention, I don't actually act like I believe any of this nonsense" was the fact that I admitted, in my devotional, that I don't do this stuff well.  I can be at least that self-aware and self-honest to know that I generally boot up in "screw-up" mode...and the day gets better only by the grace of a loving and caring God.
Lord God, I am such a putz when it comes to "walking by faith, and not by sight."  As my former preaching professor Gene Lowry (who had started out his training in pre-law) noted, "It is much easier to preach than to practice."  Preach it, Br'er Lowry!
My mind was then overtaken with questions like, "OK, so do I just go ahead and register with the other 30 temporary agencies in town?  Do I start calling back the grocery stores again?  There's a bus-boy position up the road here at the Cedars - do I apply for that? Really?  How blasted 'humble' do things have to get?"  And then the grand-daddy of the self-doubt questions comes up..."Maybe it's time to just give up, and head for Toledo, move in with my sister as she so generously offered, and throw this whole ministry thing out the window.  Because if I'm not gonna get to do ministry (and more specifically, study ministry), I can do the other stuff from just about anywhere."  Needless to say, those are not good questions to be asking myself right about now.
My roommate Tim took his day off, and rode downtown on the Metra train and walked around the downtown area.  I was kind of envious of his day, to be honest.  In retrospect, I wish I'd had that much would have been less frustrating than the day I had.  Once I *am* re-employed, that's going to be my take the time (and the very limited funds) to really SEE this town.  I feel like I've missed so much of it, so far.
Now, I know that God has not dropped me, or singled me out for target-practice.  I know in my heart that things are going to be fine.  I have received some very badly needed financial support from a couple friends, which will carry me quite a ways.  But when is it "enough"?  When does one know that this point is "enough," and quit fooling oneself?  When do I start listening to W.C. Fields when he said, "If at first you do not succeed, quit and stop making a fool of yourself"?
I don't know.  But I do know that for the immediate future (like tomorrow), I am back in the search again...and trust that if I knock on enough doors, someone will actually hire someone as overqualified (or underqualified, depending on which job you look at) as me.  I may be "done," but I sure don't feel that way yet.
This is definitely the core of the Serenity prayer... not only to "accept the things I cannot change" but "the courage to change the things I can."  I can't change people's refusal to hire me - but I can change my attitude back toward "suit up, show up, and speak up."  In the end, that's the only way a job is gonna come my way.
For now, it's time to call it a day...and start again on the morrow.  Peace!

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