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survival2success

Advice on Going from Survival to Success for the "Instant Generation."

Day 62: The Digitized World and Control

 

HR-digital
The Digital Job Application

As you know, I have re-entered the job applying process. In the last week, I have filled out six applications. No, I am not discouraged. I have only just begun, and I know this, but, God is using this digitized application process to continue to teach me a valuable lesson. I have microscopic control over what happens next. It’s one thing for me to say, “God, I give you control,” another to actually give it to Him.

Logically, I know God is completely sovereign, I know He created the world and moves people and circumstances as He sees fit. I have read a few books on the subject: Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges, The Reason for God by Timothy Keller and some assorted Essays from Finding God at Harvard compiled by Kelly Monroe-Kullberg touch on this subject as well. I also have at least 25 index cards with Scripture verses on them that speak to God’s sovereignty and control (Col. 1:16-17; Isa. 46;10 and Psalm 24:1-2 are a few of my favorites that I can recall right now). Yet, when it comes to putting this logical knowledge into practice–there seems to be a disconnect. I tend to say to God, “Take control of this,” but things don’t happen as quickly as I want or I don’t get answers at all. Then, I do whatever I can to grab it back.

This digitized application process, though, is making me have no choice but to leave the control in God’s hands. Yes, I am doing my best to fill out applications, write appropriate resumes for each individual job, spend time on creating professional and relevant cover letters. I am using the words in the job descriptions in my resume so that the computer does throw my resume out. After all that, though, I have no control; at all. This hit me hard today when I attempted to call a particular company to see where they were in the application process.

I dialed the number, got the company directory and pressed the number for “job seekers.” Well, it was not a surprise but, nonetheless, disappointing when I heard the following recorded message: [Company Name]’s application process is entirely digitized if [Company Name] is interested in you, we will contact you. I knew this was most likely the case, but for some reason, a lump dropped in my stomach. I began to hate the fact that my future was in the hands of a machine. The I remembered Proverbs 21:1; “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” If God can turn the hearts of people what is a machine to Him? 

Never did I imagine that computers, which people supposedly control would be the very thing God would use to show me (again) that I have no control whatsoever.

 

Day 61: Being in Pieces and Having a Divided Mind.

 

a-divided-mind-joe-paradis
A Divided Mind–Artwork by Joe Paradis

 

This morning one of my “Facebook Memories” was of information I gleaned from a Sermon by Timothy Keller (back in my comfort zone!) two years ago to the day. Guess what it was about? That’s right–you guessed it–anxiety. At first, when I realized that two years ago around the same time I was dealing with the SAME issue I started beating myself up in my head. See, you haven’t changed, you aren’t growing, anxiety and depression are going to be continuous battles that you will always lose. Thankfully before I left for work, I listened to the sermon again because Mr. Keller tells us to discard those thoughts and remember where they are coming from. Below is an excerpt from his sermon that really hit home for me, again,

The word for anxiety is a little Greek word  merimnaó which means to be in pieces and there is a play on this word anxiety in Luke chapter 10; that tells us the story of Martha and Mary. There is a great place where, two sisters, Martha and Mary have Jesus in to eat a meal and Martha is running all around, running all around and it says that she was anxious—merimnaó with much serving. And the word literally means to have a mind divided and distracted with too much. Too many goals. Mary is just sitting there listening to Jesus and Martha starts to get, “Mary we’ve got work to do and you are having your quiet time.” Mary doesn’t care that the house is a wreck and that they have things to do. That doesn’t matter she’s getting her time with Jesus. Are you a Mary or a Martha? Now Jesus actually makes a play on the word merimnaó. He says, “Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things (which is merimnaó).”  Mary has found the one thing that is needful, Mary is single-minded. Mary has one thing she is looking at and Martha had 300 things. (Timothy Keller “Fruits of the Spirit: Peace and Overcoming Anxiety,” 1990)

I am definitely a Martha, although you would never tell that by the looks of my apartment sometimes! But, right now my mind is divided and being pulled in so many directions. I’m surprised it hasn’t been pulled to shattered pieces yet. That has to be God’s protection. Even today my mind is considering my job, Melaleuca, my relationship, the possibility of moving, Boston, Job applications, friends, family, my future, my past. Some of these things are not bad, but it is; nonetheless causing my mind to be divided and for my anxiety to have a fertile ground in which to grow.

As I said, some of the things my mind is focused on are good things, they even require my attention. But look what Mr. Keller says, “Mary has found the one thing that is needful, Mary is single-minded.” Mary had a family, she had a home to take care of, meals to prepare, but when she had the opportunity, she focused her mind on the One that would pull all of her life together and keep her mind in on piece–without anxiety. When Christ is my focus, and I give all my concerns they no longer have the right to pull apart or divide my mind. Here is to needful, single-minded focus.

Day 60: Fighting Depression and Winning the War

“Okay, these videos are a little bit of a step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, pushing us out of our comfort zone is how God likes to work. But, I have been listening to a couple Steven Furtick’s Motivational videos in the morning as I walk to work. (They are perfect because they are short and it takes me tops ten minutes to walk to work!) I have been fighting with the ups and downs of depression and anxiety lately and when I say “fighting” I mean FIGHTING! This is one of the videos that has been very helpful:

When I say I am FIGHTING, I mean that I am not sitting around complacent just hoping the episode of depression and anxiety that I am facing will only disappear. I am getting up, taking care of myself, going to work, surrounding myself with friends, spending time using my DBT Skills, Reading, writing and memorizing to scripture. I am fighting. The length of this particular episode is getting on my nerves, and sometimes I wish I had the ability to curl up and stop fighting, if only for a few days but I can’t. This morning, though, the temptation to just rest from the battle was overwhelming.

This weather is still being horrible, and the barometric pressure is causing so much pain. The night before I went to Physical Therapy and my body was feeling its effects. Emotionally, I was all right, but my physical pain was bringing tears to my eyes. As the pain took over, I considered asking God, please let me quit. Then I remembered that I woke up to a text where I was being thanked for helping, I was told I was loved. So, instead, I prayed, God help me get out of this bed so that I can face this day and glorify you. Just then my “First Five” application alert went off. I considered ignoring it because I was already behind schedule. But from the bed, I read the Chapter in Scripture and the quick devotional. It was exactly what I needed!

  “And the Lord gave David victory everywhere he went.” 2 Sam 8:6b, 14b

David had to show up to the battle. David had to fight. David lost men, he probably even suffered injury himself. Later in the chapter, a prince from a surrounding area comes to pay tribute to David, but he also comes to inquire about David’s health (2 Sam. 8:10). I may become tired and suffer “injury, ” but I will win this war because God is with me and He will give me victory.

 

Day 59: On Living in an ArtSpace as a Writer

 

Living in an Artspace
Trash and Dollar Items Turned Art

Last night my mind was messing with me. Every lie that I had been trained to believe at some point began to play around in my head like a broken record.  It got so bad that I texted my friend and told her the biggest lie that was swirling around in my brain. She reminded me that the weather was bad, my body hurt, and that I should just curl under the blankets, drink tea, bet my kitty and dream of well…good things!

I still don’t feel right, the weather is improving, but it is still causing problems for my body. I also slept very little last night, so I am beyond tired. So, surprise, my mind is messing with me again. I wish I could break the broken record that plays in my head to pieces so I would never hear it again. Two of the biggest lies that play around are that I am worthless and that I am useless. That is when this idea to turn items that are “worthless and useless” into the art that I am going to hang outside in my hall.

The two paintings you see there, I found by the trash can downstairs in my apartment. The map of the world that I bought at the dollar store. The “Certificate of Achievements”  are actually frames for 8 X 11 pieces of paper. I intend to write essays to put under the pieces of art that were thrown out and the picture I found at the dollar store. The essays will show that these discarded worthless items have value and can impact people. These are the thoughts that come to the mind of a writer living in an ArtSpace.

God is the author of my life, and instead of listening to the lies of my enemy I will trust God’s pen and let his story for my life bring him glory. Bringing Him glory gives me the greatest purpose and immeasurable worth.

 

 

Day 58: At it again and on “Do it Again”

 

Job Applications
Applying Again

If you remember back in January, I said I was taking the month off from applying to jobs because I was just getting so worn out and tired of the process. I was hearing nothing and getting nowhere. I had gone through developmental training, got help from a career counselor and had friends putting themselves out on the line for me and still getting nowhere. By the end of December I was so tired and to the point of tears. Everyone was telling me I was well qualified, my resumes and letters were well written. I was told nothing was wrong with me but that the job market was just scarce. I was reminded that there are people who graduated when I did and still were without any job so I needed to be thankful that I have a job. I will admit, although sometimes, things are not easy here I am grateful to have a job.

I ended up taking a break for a bit longer than the month. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. I had just moved into a new apartment, started taking driving lessons and thought that if I worked hard, I would prove my value to my job. I thought that if I showed my value to my job, I would be able to move up and continue to contribute to the agency. I am now fully convinced, in heart, in mind, and in spirit that things need to change.

My driving lessons are going well, but even if I managed to obtain a car, there is no way I could afford the insurance or gas. My job has made it clear to me that there is nowhere I can move within the organization. I can’t stay where I am. Too many days I go home feeling worthless and undervalued. So, my job search is back in full force; this time with Boston on the radar. While I was there I saw and heard about so many job opportunities that I lit up inside; in a way, I have not lit up in a long time. I have now filled out five applications in two weeks. My resume, with any luck and the help of God, may get into the hands of the CEO at one of the companies I applied to.

 

melaluca
Melaleuca The Wellness Company: CONFIDENCE 

Meanwhile, while I have been searching for a new job my dreams have been getting bigger. Do you remember the Dream Board I made? Well, that accessible house, I want to give someone I love the ability to see their design plans for a universally designed home to come to fruition. I also want to start a fund that is set aside to help churches to meet financial needs so that they have no excuse not to be accessible and open to people with disabilities. I have been seriously considering giving up on Melaleuca, as a marketing director.

I love their products, they have worked for me, but I keep feeling like direct sales are just not for me. For some reason, I just can’t do this. My mentor (poor guy) called me last night. I was on my way to Physical Therapy, so I only texted him in return, but as I was walking home I was thinking: maybe I should just tell him I quit. Thankfully, I skyped with my boyfriend later that night. He is taking a bold step in his career aspirations and I am so proud of him. I realized that he already thinks I am amazing (Don’t ask me why; I couldn’t tell you!). But, I know worked at Melaleuca he would be so proud of me, and I would be able to meet my financial goals and dreams. After talking to him, I decided not to tell my mentor I was quitting. On top of that, this morning I heard a video about confidence from Steven Furtick called “Do it Again.” I am not giving up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 57: “Selma” Vs. “Hidden Figures.”

Just a forewarning, this post is not a review of either movie; except to say that I thought both of them were fantastic and both of them stirred my spirit; to sadness and hope. I know that some people may not like the equation of the Civil rights movement for African Americans in this country to the Civil rights movement of people with disabilities in this country. You may not feel our battles are the same, but I mean no disrespect to the Civil Rights movement for African Americans. People with disabilities owe you respect and gratitude for paving the way and showing us the many facets necessary in which change can occur.

When I was in Boston I watched “Salema” with my friend who is a fearless, powerful self-advocate and advocate for other people with disabilities. As I watched him throughout the week I became jealous of the way in which he conducted himself. He was fearless in getting people to move so that he could have access to the places he needed. Me, on the other hand, I will push through crowds, but I will try to find an open seat and get in as quickly as possible. Fearful of frustrating or angering people. I watched him powerfully speak before a transportation Board that was considering cutting all paratransit services for people with disabilities. I may be able to speak but not in situations like that. It was annoying me that the people on the Board seemed not to care about the words that were being spoken to them by the many they would be hurting. He simply said, “they have to be that way. They can’t show that any of this is affecting them.” I was amazed and held him in greater esteem even then. He is also part of a disability advocacy group that is not afraid to rock the boat and rock it heavily. while I respect what they do and what they have accomplished on our behalf; I couldn’t do it. After we watched Selma my heart and emotions were twisted inside of me. He then asked me if I would be willing and able to stand by someone willing to go to those kinds of extremes to bring change. It took a bit for me to compose myself, I told him I would want to. I suppose the better answer would have been: “With God’s strength, I could.”

This weekend, I watched “Hidden Figures.” Throughout the whole movie, I was thinking that’s just wrong or yelling “You go!!” I realized that the disability community is at the place these women were. We are highly educated and being completely underused. I look at myself, I have two Master’s degrees, internship and work experience and here I am working as a receptionist. I am working hard to change these circumstances and I have faith that God is at work I just need to trust Him and have patience. One of my Master’s Degrees is in Human Resource Management. My entire reasoning for getting this degree was so that I could either work for the Federal Government or a top-notch corporation and change hiring policies and treatment of employees with disabilites. First, by proving my invaluable worth and work ethic then bringing more qualified individuals with disabilities on board. Being a “hidden figure” of my own so to speak.

Although our ways of wanting to bring about chang for people with disabilities differ tremendously we have a common vision of change. I only hope he is able to stand by someone who would prefer to bring “hidden change.”

Day 56: Anointing, Trusting and Just Doing Something.

 

anointing_of_fresh_oil
Did David’s anointing provide him with an extra seal of God’s promise to him?

I am so many things going through my head. Most of these things have left me wondering: God, how do I know that this is a part of your plan for me? Help me! Granted, I have been more at peace lately than I have been in a while. Don’t get me wrong, like that “Wack-A-Mole” game found at most carnivals and arcades; my past and anxiety has reared its head. But, I have, thankfully, been able to–with support and skills–not denial–been able to “wack” it back into its proper place.

During today’s “First Five” devotional I read mostly about how some of the sojourner’s from the area of Benjamin thought they would be rewarded by David for killing Saul’s son who was claiming kingship over every tribe of Israel except for Judah. Unfortunately, their selfish ambition leads to their hanging by David’s men. The devotional talked about how David did not need those men to act as assains for God’s promise to him to come true. David trusted God.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him [David] in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 8:13)

I know David had to wait decade’s for God’s promise to him of becoming king over a unified Israel to come into being, but I wonder if being anointed by Samuel when he was a teenager gave him an extra ability to trust God and his promise? I don’t have a Samuel who is telling me, this is what the Lord has planned for you. I haven’t been outwardly anointed by a person set apart by God to tell people what God is saying and what to do. I know this should not be tripping me up. After all, the time of the Prophets is over because Christ left us His Spirit to be our guide.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14: 16-18)

When I first read this devotional, I was left praying similar to Todd Agnew’s Song “Witten on the Wall.”

And I wish You still spoke through burning bushes,
And I wish You still wrote on blocks of stone,
‘Cause the sound of this world’s deafening,
And I’m having a hard time listening,
And I wish Your will was still written on the wall.

But, then, it clicked in my brain. “If you love me you will keep my commands.” I just need to do everything I can to hold to Christ, to obey him, honor him and His Spirit will guide me moment by moment. Step by step. I don’t need a prophet’s anointing, a burning bush, or writing on stone and walls. Sometimes, as Keven DeYoung puts it, I need to Just Do Something.

just-do-something

 

Day 55: παραδίνω: Handed Over

Never hold anything tighter
How True, Yet How Hard!

To give credit where credit is due, a lot of the information that provoked this post and a sense of peace came from a recent Sermon from Elevation Church called Round Trip Ressurection. If Charisma, excitement, and sometimes loud volumes during a sermon don’t scare you. I encourage you to check it out. These elements used to scare me, and I don’t attend a church anything like Elevation, but I am at least experiencing more freedom to at least hear sermons like this. The only reason I put out the warning is so that I do not lead you to something that although was a major blessing to me may be a stumbling block for you.

I am going to start this post with a couple quotes from the sermon, and then I will get into some of my thoughts. Thoughts that I hope are being directed by God.

“When the Bible says Judas handed Jesus over, παραδίνω, and the Sanhedrin handed Jesus over to Pilate and Pilate hadeded Jesus over to Herod and Herod handed Jesus over to be crucified [It was all παραδίνω]. When Jesus got ready to die; guess what He did with His Spririt? παραδίνω! He handed it over! What I am trying to say is no one took it! He handed it over!

 

“It might have looked like Judas’s hand. It might have looked like Pialte’s hand. It might have looked like Herod’s hand, but; the hand on the hand that write’s the story of your life is God’s hand. Hand it over!

The Pastor then ends the sermon asking people to hand over their fears, their concerns their lives because, in essence, it’s all in God’s hand anyway. I was then further convicted by my devotional reading by Proverbs 31’sFirst Five” morning devotional. The devotional spoke about Abner and how he sought in every way he could to advance himself in his selfish ambitions. The devotional then spoke about the difference between selfish ambition vs. Godly ambition. It made me wonder if my own ambitions are in check. I can tell you, that there was a time I thought I was entitled to succeed and I pushed God aside to try and accomplish that. As you can imagine, that blew up in my face, and God made it so that I had no choice but to start from rock bottom.

My hope at this point is that I am holding on to nothing tighter then I hold on to God, that I am παραδίνω, handing things over to Him for complete control; not just for a time, but for my entire existence. May I never look at my gifts as entitlements but as tools to be used for His glory. For His glory in my job, my family, my relationships, my choices, my movements, everything.

 

 

Day 54: Boston, Boundaries, and Expectancy

 

Salem Sunrise
“Sunrise Easter Service” Photo Credit: Nick Holtzham

 

I fell off the grid again for a while. Totally unintentional. I went away the first week in April to Boston, MA. On my way there I was nervous, excited, considering exit strategies; all rolled together. I am happy to report that an exit strategy was not necessary and beyond that, I am trying to figure out an entrance strategy.  I realize I have to fill in some blanks or I am going to have some confused readers.

Blank 1: Exit Strategies?

Why you may wonder, would I be considering exit strategies for a vacation? I was headed up to Boston to meet a person I had met online for the first time. Let’s just say, to keep it simple, meeting people online has not worked out well for me. I have been Skyping with this person for months, and my gut told me I was safe, but at times I don’t trust my gut.

I am so glad I went. No exit strategies necessary! The young man I was going to meet turned out to be absolutely amazing. We had a great time going to places throughout the Boston Metro area. I found myself connecting with him on a level I thought I would never allow/or be able to connect with someone again. A complete gift. Now, before my friends and family freak out, we are both planning to take things really, S-L-O-W! We both have our own reasons, but the pace will be S-L-O-W! Did I mention, S-L-O-W?! Hopefully, in keeping things slow, we will continue to build an honorable relationship. Learning about each other, letting our friends and families examine us, letting God shape His purposes for us.

Blank 2: Entrance Strategies?

Again please don’t freak out. I know I just moved to the apartment I am in, so the idea that I want to leave already may seem crazy. Perhaps it is. But, there were three major things I discovered about Boston: Disability Community, Job Opportunities, and good public transit. I always wrote Boston off because of its cold weather. But, I learned my body hates me just as much here weather-wise as it did up there. There was really only a 5-9 degree weather difference between Boston and where I am now. I figured, it can’t hurt to apply for jobs there, what is one more possibility to change my employment circumstances?

So, I am trying to be hopeful and filled with the expectancy that maybe this is the path I am supposed to take. At the same time, I am trying to surrender to God. Trying so hard not to “white-knuckle” this possibility; in case God has other plans. This is a very hard balance to maintain.

 

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