This is about to be a huge mess of hunger for others’ approval, anxiety that God won’t provide, and proof that my thinking I need to prove myself or earn things runs deep deep deep. So buckle up and try to show a little grace as you enter into the post-graduate I-need-an-awesome-job-stat anxiety.
So now that we’re married and we’ve both graduated college, every single person I see asks me, “So, what’s next? Do you have a plan? Are you going to start looking for another job…?”
Okay, maybe not every single person…. but many, many people. And I know it’s out of the kindness of their hearts! I really do believe that.
But this is how I typically react:
Well, gosh. Yes? But I don’t have a “plan,” or really even know what kind of job I want. I mean, I can think of jobs I’d enjoy, but….
At that moment, I feel like I should have some detailed, master plan with everything already figured out. Why? So that person approves of me. So they’ll think I have it all together. So I can rest my worth in having a “glamorous” job. So I can be “credible” and “have value” because I have a job that sounds good?
Seeing those words, releasing those feelings breaks my heart. I know I shouldn’t feel like where we are now isn’t good enough. Sure, it’s not our dream, but it’s not not good enough.
So, to answer your “What’s next?” question with 100% honesty:
I have no idea, and I’m extremely overwhelmed and anxious because of it. I think about applying for jobs all the time, following up, how to make our resumes stronger, etc. I could think about that constantly all day long, wondering if we’ll ever find the jobs we’re searching for… and hearing that question over and over again, “So…What’s next?” just sends me spinning into that cycle again.
So here’s the redeeming part of all of this ranting:
I have no reason to be anxious at all! 1. Because God told me not to be anxious, but we’ll get to that in a second. And 2. Because we both have jobs, a place to live, and enough resources to survive…. isn’t that all we need anyway? And isn’t that proof that God is taking care of us right now?
God has fully provided for us in every way. But I’m not satisfied with that because I forget so easily my worth isn’t found in all the titles I run after.
We already have jobs, but not the jobs we paid for 4 years of college to have… not the jobs we think will fulfill us or jobs we’re passionate about or the jobs other people will nod their heads in approval toward.
So I feel like we’re waiting.
Waiting for Jake to have an awesome ministry job that he loves, waiting for me to have a job people “approve” of me having, waiting to see if we have to move before we “settle down,” blah blah blah.
Isn’t that awful? So I feel anxious! Anxious to get to the next step when we have those things everyone thinks we should have in order to not have the “What’s next?” question thrown at us every time we turn around. I’m anxious to get to those places because I think it’s all up to me to get there. I think that I have to do all the work to get there and earn it.
You know who I’m forgetting here?
God. It’s like I forget he exists in these moments!
Well, we’re in it. We’re living our lives, working our jobs, trying to build up community, ministering in the here and now, and trying to follow Jesus today. Because where we are now matters and has purpose—more purpose than the imaginary “what’s next” lifestage that may or may not ever actually happen!
So, enough waiting. We’re living, instead… and we’re living with joy in our current circumstances, praising God for each new day.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil–this is God’s gift to man. -Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?… Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:25, 34
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. -Colossians 3:1-4
Those Scriptures are dear to my heart today as I try to remember these truths.