Before the World Race ended I made a goal to find a job by September 1. My dream was to find a job that 1) would be easy to get in and out of, something that doesn’t have a lot of training and commitment, because I’m only planning to be in Ohio for nine months 2) a job that doesn’t require any kind of uniform or have a problem with my tattoo and 3) a job that was about a good cause; a job that I’m passionate about.
I’ve prayed passionately for the last few months that God would provide me with such a job, and then I did my part in trying to find it. I’ve looked at newspaper classifieds and stalked Craigslist. I’ve called and emailed and gone into places to ask if they’re hiring. I’ve driven around. I’ve walked up to strangers in Starbucks and asked if they needed a nanny. I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for the next possibility. I’ve filled out many applications.
At first I had my heart set on working at a few different places in Columbus that deal with troubled teens. One of the places called me back for an interview, but I was out of town and haven’t heard from them since. I looked into substitute teaching, which I thought would be a good preparation for Teach for America, but the process was overwhelming and didn’t seem worth it in the end. I applied at Barnes&Noble, who said they were “accepting applications,” but let’s be real, that’s code for NOT HIRING. I found a couple of nanny gigs I was really wanted on Craigslist, but they turned out to be scams. That hurt my feelings.
And then, out of an act of desperation I applied at Applebees a few weeks ago. If there’s one thing I am not passionate about, it’s working at Applebees. I worked there before I went on the World Race, and the only thing that kept me sane was knowing that I would soon be leaving. I mainly applied this time around for a peace of mind, I wanted to make sure they weren’t hiring, which would prevent it from remaining a last minute option for me.
I went in, sat down, filled out the application and chatted with the manager. He loved me (meaning, he loved my availability and the fact that I already had Applebees experience.) This terrified me. He said everything looked good to go, except my tattoo. “But that can easily be covered up by the uniform,” he said. I cringed. He said it was good meeting me and that he would call me soon. I walked out the door and began crying. “Is this all you have for me, God?” I asked. “To work at Applebees before I leave for the World Race, to go on the World Race, to come back and work at Applebees again? Really, is that it?” If this was the case, I assumed God wanted to humble me even more, and I would have to be okay with that.
Applebees didn’t call me until last week, when I was in Nashville – still jobless. Thankfully I missed the call. They left me a voicemail telling me to call back so we could get going with orientation. I saved the voicemail, but I didn’t call them back. Maybe it was foolish, but I’d like to believe I didn’t call them back because I had faith for something more.
A few days ago I found a posting on Craigslist for an “after school teen program coordinator” at the YMCA. I sent in my resume and was invited to an interview this morning.
To be honest, I didn’t want to go. After I was invited to the interview I found out this Y was 25 minutes away, and the job would only be for 20 hours a week. Even if I was offered the position I didn’t think I would take it. I had already settled on the idea of applying to Northstar, an up-and-coming cafe in Columbus that has a commitment to sustainability. The idea of working at Northstar didn’t thrill me, but at least it wasn’t Applebees.
I told a few friends that I had an interview at the Y, that I wasn’t excited and I wasn’t even going to dress up for it.
This morning I woke up and tried to remember the last time I went to a job interview. Let’s just say it’s been a while. I thought about how I should probably brush up on my interview skills, you know, like thinking of 3 words my friends would use to describe me, or coming up with my greatest weakness, which is something like “trying too hard.” But then I remembered that I didn’t care about this interview at all.
I drove to the Y and sat down with Fay, a 40s something overweight black woman. She was awesome. She started with the age old question, “So tell me about yourself.” I told her that I had just come back from the World Race, and she asked what that was like. I described the ministries we worked with, ending with the prostitution ministry in Thailand. “You must mean SHE,” Fay said. My mouth hung open. “You know about SHE?” “Yes, I’ve bought some of their jewelry. In fact, I think I’m wearing it right now.” This is when something clicked, and the rest of the interview wasn’t really an interview at all.
We quickly came to the understanding that we were both Jesus-following Christians, which changed the entire mood of our interaction. No longer was I being interviewed by a potential boss, instead I was having a conversation with a sister-in-Christ. I poured my heart out to her about how I struggled to find my self-worth on the World Race when I wasn’t a leader, and the redeeming story of how I became a leader in the end. She asked about the last time I lost my cool, I told her about when I blew up at my mom a few weeks earlier, and how we were now in family counseling. We talked about God, life, family, social justice, scripture, Teach for America and more. Fay told me all about her vision for the after school program, about her heart for the children and how I would have free creative reign to teach them about the meaningful things in life. During the interview I kept thinking, “This is it. This is the job I’ve been praying for; this is the one that God had for me all along.”
When our “interview” ended and I was about to leave, I wanted to hug Fay. I didn’t, but I don’t doubt that I’ll have another chance.
I walked out of the Y and began to cry. This time, not because I was tortured with the idea that life was hard and not what I dreamed it would be; I was crying because God is good and bigger than all my wildest dreams.