Grab some coffee…its a long one!!!

Two months ago, I wrote a proposal to my boss, proposing to go back to college for my B.S. in Communications 1 night per week. This, of course, would interfere with traveling on Mondays. She, of course, told me “No.” Door closed, I shrugged my shoulders and left my dreams to be forgotten. Well, apparently God didn’t forget, as all arrows are pointing me back to school! Northwestern’s app. essays are on something hard you’ve faced and God’s involvement there. I drummed my fingers trying to think of something hard I’ve had to go through…then suddenly BINGO! I, uh, just lost my job! So here is my story (as told to NWC)…

I remember December 3, 2007 as if it were yesterday. I was writing my prayers in my purple, cloth-bound journal as I had so many times before. But this day was different. This day I said 5 little words that were about to change the course of my life as I had known it. With tears in my eyes I simply wrote, “Father, I need a change.” I was not passionate about the retail work I was doing. I was feeling over-qualified, under appreciated, dissatisfied and filled with untapped passions stuffed deep down in my heart. I closed my journal that day, my plea to the Lord sent up into the cosmos for Him to do with it as He pleased. The thing about God is this: He’s a very sneaky guy.
The next day I was online on a career website filled with jobs that neither interested me nor used my gifts and strengths. I was about to end my session and get ready for work, when suddenly, a new job popped up. It was in my field (skin care/esthetics), it had a competitive salary and it had my name all over it. I sent my resume in that same day and before I knew it, I had an interview.

At the interview, the Vice President began to find out where I was from. As it turned out, his brother-in-law is a great family friend of ours. We began to talk about my history in Youth Ministry working for Young Life. He proceeded to tell me that he had been the chair on the Young Life Regional Board for years. It was unclear to me if this man believed in Jesus Christ, but one thing was for sure…he believed in kids coming to know Christ through Young Life. He then told me this: “You are under qualified for this job” (how was I supposed to know that I was applying for one of the top jobs of a multi-million dollar company?) “…BUT”, he said, “I like you. I want to introduce you to someone.” I followed the man to meet Jill. Jill told me in a nutshell that she hired Skin Care Trainers who fly all over the world training and educating people on their equipment. For a single gal, I was drooling all over this. Jill proceeded to tell me “But I am sorry to say, we will not be hiring more Trainers for probably 2 more years.” After my interview, I walked to my car. As I sat there, a still small voice said to my heart, “Jenni, they will call you within the week to be hired as a Trainer.” Four days later, I got the call. “Jennifer,” they said, “we mysteriously have a Trainer Position that opened up. We’d like to speak with you.” (Interestingly enough, what some people call “mystery“, I call “God“!) The rest is history.

I began working for them at the turn of the New Year. In 4 months I had traveled to over 20 different states and gotten to visit many long lost friends and relatives during my times on the road. My passion for educating people was being used. My love for adventure was fulfilled. I was finally getting paid and appreciated for the hard work I was giving. Many quiet times with God were enjoyed on long flights. I was living my dream. And then just like that, I was blind sighted with some difficult news. Our company’s sales were declining with the economy and newer hires were being let go. Just like that, months of thriving under the God-given job opportunity I had received were gone. I was jobless and insurance-less. But in an act of God’s grace, there was one thing I was not. And that was hopeless.

I think we all wonder how we will react when we’re put under the heat. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have that great of a track record. In fact, if there is one thing in my life I’ve proven time and time again to be really good at, its “self-pity”. The definition of self-pity is this: the self-indulgent belief that your life is harder and sadder than everyone else’s. I hate to brag, but seriously, I’ve always been a natural at self-pity! So it took me by surprise when I lost my job and through tears I told God, “It’s go time!” Its because of those past trials and times of self-pity that I was taught many great lessons. Lessons like, self-pity is so unattractive. And I don’t mean in the physical sense (although it shows up there too). No, I mean in the spiritual sense. I began to see people in my life who had lost a child and who, some way and somehow, were looking beyond their own hurts to help others. I began to see people who had permanent physical disabilities, yet an attitude that puts Mother Teresa to shame. And then I would notice those who endured hardship and all they did was complain, show jealousy or anger, bitterness and worst of all…self-pity. And I didn’t have to look far to find them…because I was among them.

Facing difficult situations is a part of life. It took me 27 years to realize that they don’t stop coming…ever. Being that it was 2 weeks ago that I received the news that I no longer had a job, I think this calls for a celebration. (hey – any reason to eat cake is a good one!) Raise your glass and let’s make a toast. A toast to a Savior that is patient enough to teach self-indulgent humans (aka. Jenni Carlson) how to embrace the bigger picture. As a friend of mine shared with me, “Jobs will come and go but it doesn’t change your calling.” Amen sister. Amen.

* Thank you LuAnn Miller, for that inspiring quote!

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