Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Entitlement vs. Expectancy

In my job hunting, I've use all those tools like CareerBuilder, JobMonkey, NES Staffing... and sometimes I find legitimate leads. But all the more I'm noticing that there's an uncomfortable level of truth to the adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." I've already whined about the job market in my previous post, so I will try not to be repetitive. Sure, I work as many hours as I can get at my job, but it isn't one of those jobs that I can respect myself for as a college graduate. I am grateful for a job at all, but the hours are so few and the sense of purpose, virtually non-existent. Old customers come in and recognize me, we chat, and very quickly the conversation inevitably turns to this one question: "Why are you still here?"

I ask myself that question everyday. Every. Day. Not just at work, but in general. I came home for a job opportunity that fell through, so now I'm back in my hometown, struggling to reconnect with my old life when old friends are pretty much scattered to the four winds, going their various directions. I miss my college town in Southern California, a place that quickly became my home. I miss the beach, the friends that I have there, and the church that I loved so much. I hoped that those feelings would fade when I returned home, especially since I came back here out of a sincere sense of obedience. I set aside what I then thought to be immature and more immediate desires (friends, fun, community) and did what I thought God was leading me to do, and what I thought any responsible adult should do: go where the job is. Because job=future. Right?

But the job isn't here. Hiring freezes and budget cuts made sure of it.  And this place isn't home anymore; my family is here, but I feel like I'm trying to crawl back inside a cocoon that stopped fitting a long time ago. So I just look stupid. Perhaps the trouble is that I made up my mind that it wouldn't be home, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But now I'm floundering, wondering what God is up to. I try to formulate future plans, but in the meantime I just need a good real job. Yet that means some sort of anchoring to a place that I didn't want to be at in the first place. And I guess I've always assumed that God prefers us to work; it seems part of the natural order. So then I figure, God wants me to have a job, right? But does He want me to have a job here?

I wonder what response the Lord would have from me and people in similar circumstances; are we supposed to react to this situation (unemployment, discouraging job market) with optimism? Believing that the opportunity is there, and we have only to find it? Are we supposed to accept our current circumstance as God's will, or are we supposed to simply try harder? As Christians, we are supposed to be expectant of great things. Bill Johnson said "It is unnatural for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible."That rings true to me. The God of the universe loves us and adores us! He is earnestly invested in bringing about good from all circumstances! Jesus is alive and the Spirit is moving! Why shouldn't we expect every good and perfect gift? Why shouldn't we approach the throne expectantly? Aren't we supposed to expect His best?

Well good grief, what does that actually mean, practically speaking? What does the "best" look like? The more I think about it, the more I find difficulty in drawing the line between expectancy (knowing that God has good things for His children, and will provide for me) and entitlement (feeling like He owes me something because He loves me and has every resource at His disposal). I don't know where I end and He begins. How much of my future is in my hands? How much of it is up to me? My grandmother once said "It's easier for God to steer a moving ship than for Him to blow it out of the harbor." Obviously she couldn't have been giving me this advice, because I totally have a grip on this concept.... except for those times when I don't have a grip, and I get paralyzed by uncertainty. Naturally, then,  my thought is to make like a ship and get moving until I sense a shift in the wind, some kind of divine intervention. But then I wonder... is this the best direction? Is this what I should be doing? In my quest for God's will, I become paralyzed in my own indecision, frozen in my own mind. I don't want to be angry at God for not showing up where I thought He'd be (entitlement) but I don't want to just stop expecting Him to show up, merely to prevent disappointment.

Maybe His version of moving in my life doesn't match mine. That idea doesn't thrill me. It's like sitting at a bus stop, waiting for ten hours for the stupid bus to get there and take you to your aunts house in Duluth. You sit there, sweating, putting up with a bunch of bad weather and getting hit on by homeless people and truant high schoolers. Only the bus never comes, because what you thought was a bus stop was really just a park bench. Drat. Then you come to find out that your aunt wasn't in Duluth at all, because you'd gotten your dates confused. She was out of town, so you wouldn't have had any place to stay anyway. Oh, and her house got broken into while she was gone, and you narrowly avoided being smothered by a burglar. So in retrospect, you start thinking that maybe your ten hour bench warming sesh was a blessing in disguise. But was that really necessary? Couldn't that suffering be made simpler?! That isn't my idea of a good time.

That was a really mind numbing analogy. The point is, maybe God moves in mysterious ways (read: He is God of wonders, we are dust):

Isaiah 55:8-9 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lorrd. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Now that, I believe. It's a relief to surrender to that sort of providence. The interim period, between vision and fruition... it still sucks. I sometimes get overwhelmed too easily, forgetting what I believe in (God is good, God is love, every good and perfect gift comes from Him) and why (because it's true... and its been demonstrated over and over! I'm just dense!). In spite of my frailty, I don't want to exchange expectancy for bitterness or cynicism, because the more I think about it, the more expectancy and faith look remarkably alike. Well, how do I feed childlike faith? For starters, believing that God is bigger than me. And if Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness... if God decided to use the quality of faith as a measurement of right standing with Him, pre-Covenant, then obviously faith is a big deal in His eyes! As an RA, my floor theme was Faith; for part of the deco, I mounted a mustard seed up on the wall for display in all the quads (Matthew 17:20).  It gives me hope... I mean, have you seen a mustard seed? They're impossibly small. I love that Jesus chose that rather than, say, a double coconut seed the size of my head. He understood exactly how discouraged and faithless we can be, and wanted to make sure we knew that there was no need for superstar Christianity. It's like lowering the bar in midget pole vaulting: just when you thought the bare minimum couldn't get anymore... minimal... there Jesus goes, building a handicap access ramp and giving us boosts.

1 comment:

Trevor said...

Wait a second ... did you just make a subtle MTV Video Awards reference?