Friday, May 28, 2010

Honest experience

I came across this post before the interview, back when I was prepping during my lunch hour at work and after I got home from work and whenever I had a spare minute.  When you're getting ready for a job interview, you always have to prepare for the questions about your weaknesses, mistakes, and difficulties, and you have to face those and figure out how they have benefited you.  Sometimes, you can really see God's hand at work, but only if you're looking.  Most of the time, you just want to look away from your mistakes, as if acknowledging them makes you weaker, as if working through them doesn't make you stronger.

      "The truth is, though, he could have all the faith in God he wanted, but if he really wanted confidence as a public speaker, he’d need some hours. God wasn’t going to grant him confidence. Even Moses had absolutely no confidence. And God even stopped the mans stutter. It was experience that gave Moses confidence.
      "The funny thing is, if you wanted to be a locksmith or a plumber or a cab driver, you’d never pray and ask God to magically give you the ability. That’s not how God designed life. But in those fuzzy areas of emotions, we suddenly believe God is going to act like a magician.
      . . . "The truth is, if you do the work and gain the experience, you’ll have more confidence because you’ll actually know what you’re doing, and you will have spent some great time with God."  - Donald Miller

I really didn't have a lot of confidence going into this interview.  I don't have the experience they want.  All my skills are rusty.  I'm crippled by pain physically and mentally.  I don't actually know if I have what it takes to do this job.  It will be a miracle if I get the job and an even bigger miracle if I can keep it.  But a job interview is no place to be honest, which is another reason I struggle with them.

I figure interviewers ask questions about your weaknesses and struggles because they genuinely want to know what it will be like to work with you, but that's the last thing you're supposed to tell them.  You're supposed to play judo games with their heads and make them think you're an impossibly positive polyanna.  It's lying.  It's acting a role.  It feels awful.  I'm really good at it.  I've always been able to fake confidence.  It comes from experience.

I would like to take this opportunity to hope that the interviewers are more honest with the job-seekers when replying to their questions because I would hate to go enthusiastically into a job only to find out they were putting a positive spin on everything the same way the job-seekers are supposed to.  Something seems wrong, there.  The people I interviewed with were pretty forthcoming and even-handed, which I appreciated.  I just wish I'd been able to return the favor. 

I wonder, if a miracle happens and I do get this job, if I'll be able to live up to their expectations of me.  The real, daily grind me is much less dazzling.  Turning on the full force of my personality like that is impossibly exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.  I can put on a great show for a short time.

Is that a form of trust in God or another way I'm lying to myself?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How to be really neurotic about a job interview

  1. Find out that one of the people you are interviewing with will not hire you if you're not wearing a plain, black suit that is dry-cleaned and neatly ironed.
  2. Be really glad that the one suit you own is plain and black.
  3. Remember that the last time you could afford to have it dry-cleaned, they ironed the seams of the pants in a wonky way and did something strange to one of the shoulder pads.
  4. Panic because what if they don't hire you because of that?!
  5. Consider taking it to the dry-cleaners and asking them to iron it VERY CAREFULLY.
  6. Realize you don't have the money.
  7. Convince yourself that it's an investment, and if you get this job you will have the money.
  8. Wonder what if they screw something up and rip it or put a hole in it or ruin the other shoulder pad, and you can't wear it?! There is no way you can afford a new suit. And this is actually the only suit you have ever worn that makes you look really good! And if it gets ruined, you will be ruined! RUINED!
  9. Decide not to take it to the dry-cleaners you can't afford.
  10. Air it out really thoroughly, and plan to be sitting down, so they can't see the wonky seams during the interview.
  11. Remember that your shoulders are crooked anyway.
  12. Remember that it's your lack of experience that will be more likely to ruin your interview.
  13. Jitter about trying not to get your hopes up because your hope is not in this job. Though this job could save your financial life, health, and other important things, this job cannot really save you.
  14. Try not to expect things to miraculously work out this time in your favor because it's been a rough seven years.
  15. Try to be calm even though the more things seem to be coming together in some visible pattern that seems divinely orchestrated, the more scared you are at how disappointed you'll be if the rug gets pulled out, and this job falls through, too.
  16. Try really hard to be like the person in Psalm 131:2* (NASB).  "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;/ Like a weaned child rests against his mother,/ My soul is like a weaned child within me."
  17. Really contemplate this. The child is not using the mother as food dispenser anymore. The child is not wanting, craving, desiring, demanding. The child is resting in a place of love and safety and warmth, perhaps remembering what the mother has provided in the past but also simply enjoying the goodness of the present.
  18. Hold on to that as hard as you can, and don't let go, no matter what.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    (Why) Can't Christians handle the truth?

    I read a book series a while ago that brought the breathtaking power of grace home to me more than anything I could remember reading lately.  It's true I have a poor memory, but since one of the reasons I read is so that I can have those moments of insight again from different places, my shoddy memory is an asset.  If I wait a few years (or a few months), I can read it all again for the first time!  Sort of. 

    The book series was chock-full of "adult content," some of it incredibly vile, making true claims about human depravity in practice: what it does to us, those around us, to our choices, and even to the world around us.  I had to be very careful when recommending it because its content was most certainly going to offend (because that was its purpose, to show what depravity looks like and then what grace looks like sparkling amidst the muck, and you can't talk about that stuff without offending people's sensibilities).  I was sad that a lot of Christians would never read these books (and have these insights in this way) because they would be so busy being offended by the depiction of truth that they would miss the truth itself.

    It frustrated me that we have to sanitize everything for Christian consumption, as if acknowledging the truth of depravity made us more guilty or something.  I love how Donald Miller put it.  Here are some excerpts from yet another of his thought-provoking blog posts.

    "You probably wouldn’t tell the story of Bill Clinton having an affair, Benny Hinn faking healings and getting a divorce or Ted Haggard talking macho and homophobic and then secretly sleeping with men and using drugs. I doubt you’d talk about powerful religious figures being involved in incest, either. But that’s exactly the sort of stories we find in scripture. And not only that, but these are principal characters through which Christ lineage and God’s redemptive message are passed down through."

    "What I love about the Bible is it’s honesty. This is not a book in which authors tried to hide anything. If somebody got drunk and slept with their daughter, it’s in there. If the king of Israel had a man killed and slept with his wife, it’s in there. If somebody doubted God’s love, it’s right there in the book.  So why don’t Christian books read anything like the Bible? Can we handle the truth?"

    Yeah, you should go read the whole post.  Then come back.  :)

    What do you think?  Why is "Christian Literature" so restricted in what it can depict?  Should it be?  Is depicting the same thing as endorsing?  (If so, those Bible writers are in some hot water . . .)  Are Christians really incapable of handling the awful truth of a broken, fallen world full of fallen, broken people, consequences, bad choices, and misery?  Are there other sides to the debate you'd like to bring in?  What does love look at without flinching, and what should it turn its eyes away from?

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    If you're having trouble, join the club!

    "If I make it, I'm a good man. 
    Am I a bad man if I fail?"
    - "Man of God" by Audio Adrenaline

    A family adopted a child, and the child was out of control, and the family had a lot of trouble.  Eventually, the mother came to a conclusion.

    "Looking back," she said, "I see that God
    was not in that adoption.  It was us.  
    We were going against God's will."

    This statement gives me pause for at least a couple of reasons.
    1. God commands us to care for widows and orphans.  This oft-repeated statement (Old Testament and New Testament) would thus seem to be God's will for us.
    2. Just because troubles arose from the decision to do what God commanded, that means it's not God's will?  So unless we have smooth sailing, we aren't in God's will?  So if bad things happen to us, it's because we're not in God's will?  Really?  Is that seriously how we think?
    I don't think God tries to trick us.  If He tells us something is His will, or if He tells us to do something, I would like to believe that if we do it, we are doing His will.  Is that wrong for me to think?

    Job said: "Should I accept the good from God
    and not the ill?"  

    (Let's forget for a moment where he went after that with the help of his friends . . .)

    And here's another one: 

    "The rain falls on the righteous and the wicked." 

    I think that one's about common grace, but the opposite seems true, too.  Bad things happen to all people who live in this broken, fallen world full of broken, fallen people.  That's just how it is.  Just because we're "in God's will" doesn't mean we're in a happy place full of roses, balloons, and bunnies untouchable by the world; it just means that we have the hope that this rotten world full of woes isn't all there is for us.

    What does love say to a person who says what this mother does?  What does love say to a person who says that if your life isn't going well, you're doing something wrong?

    A last word from God:

    "In this world you will have tribulation, 
    but be of good cheer, 
    for I have overcome the world."

    Anyone have any thoughts to add or other ways to look at the situation?

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    What to pray for

    What am I supposed to be praying for? What am I supposed to be trusting God for?

    I read a really convicting quote in the last chapter of Crazy Love.
    "We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn't come through." 

    It's true for me.

    Right now, my family can help support me financially, but I feel like they shouldn't have to. I feel like I must find a Job that pays a living wage somehow, even though I'm not qualified because of my disability, even if I have to fudge truth about my capabilities or take a Job that will cause me too much physical pain because if I don't, I'll just keep failing more and more financially until I have to declare bankruptcy. I want to get a Job, so I don't have to rely on their help, so they don't have to sacrifice for me anymore. Whenever my situation hits me hard, I find myself praying for that magical Job that will make things right.

    Sometimes I feel like those prayers to God for that magical Job situation are my trust in Him. They are certainly my parents'. "God will provide a Job," they say, "you just have to keep trying." This makes me feel like if the Job doesn't materialize, it's my fault for not trusting enough or something, for not doing the right things.

    Other times, I feel like this insistence we seem to have that God owes us a good job or prosperity of any kind is foolish and arrogant. God does not exist to make me happy and comfortable. God does not have to provide me with a miraculous Job in order to stay God or win my favor and trust. At least, it shouldn't be that way. People who believe in Him are starving to death, being tortured, and dying for Him, and they don't feel that He owes them anything more. So I feel guilty when I pray specifically for the Job, like I'm saying, if you just give me this thing, then I can take care of the rest.

    It's messed up.

    I don't think I can ever go back to that place of worry-freeease and comfort, if I was ever there in the first place. I've never really been in it, now that I think about it. My mom was deathly ill. My Dad lost his job when I was a kid. I struggled to get out of college debt-free; I was always concerned about there not being enough money. It's not like this is new to me. I have always had to rely on "things working out" in order to stay afloat financially. I feel like I already learned that lesson. But if the job never materializes, does it mean I haven't learned the lesson right (or the right lesson)?

    What this crappy, painful, out-of-control situation (that started with my injury at work and subsequent dumping by the responsible party [US government] and currently disabling chronic pain and basic unemployability) has made me do is rely on God to get me through the day, every day. From the hauling myself out of bed exhausted every morning to the crawling back in and all the sleeplessness therein, the Lord's name is to be praised. Not very chipper and poetic, as Psalms go, but maybe I can make it work.

    I don't think that I will forget this reliance on God just because I get a great job with health insurance and a competent, reasonable boss who appreciates my work and gives me great performance reviews. I don't think I will forget that it is in Him that I live and move and have my being if the pain goes away. I think this lesson is part of me, ingrained in me forever.

    But if getting these things would make this understanding go away, then I have to pray that God won't give me those things. (This is why you shouldn't pray dangerous prayers, like, "God, bring me closer to You no matter what," unless you really understand what they entail. :)

    So what am I supposed to be praying for again? I feel like my standard, "helpmehelpmehelpme" or "pleasegetmeoutofthis" aren't specific and personal enough. Any suggestions?