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If you’ve followed this at all, you’d be wondering how many Fridays have passed since I first began this blog. I’m not quite sure, but thankfully it’s still on two hands. I have a final interview this afternoon with the hiring managers at an insurance institute, and that’s the best news I’ve had for weeks now. My faith has been tested throughout this unemployment run, and I’m sure there’s more testing to come. I feel anxious about the interview, but a voice at the back of my mind continues to assure me that even if this interview isn’t successful, I am still firmly in the God’s hands and I haven’t been abandoned. God is for us, and if He’s for us, what more can I ask of Him?

The impatience that I’ve felt, accompanied by heavy doses of frustration and helplessness, just goes to show me how dependent I am on God. I can’t explain all of those moments when I’ve felt as though no one in the world would hire me, and as though my immediate future was in vertical descent. Yet, even if it were rapidly spiralling downwards, God would still be there, and sometimes I can misjudge how far I need to fall to realize His sovereignty over my life.

I’m sure there are thousands of husbands or young fathers (or mature ones for that matter) out there in the world with similar questions and worries. I’m unemployed. Who am I now? What am I supposed to do? How will I feed my family if my savings are depleted? How will I pay the rent next month? Where is God in all of this? Am I alone on this?

One of the most reassuring observations I’ve made throughout this period of unemployment has been this: I am not alone. First and foremost, God’s always with me. He has promised to be with me at all times. He never leaves. He’s omnipresent. Second, as a human, I am not in a unique position of unemployment, nor am I the only person in the world who doesn’t have a job. It may feel like it sometimes, and self-pity scrapes the walls of our minds, but truly, I am not alone. Just go to any recruitment office, job fair or expo; visit a coffee shop mid-morning, look around and see very clearly that there are many, many others who are unemployed, on disability, or are unable to work.

This isn’t reason to draw happiness from seeing people less fortunate than you. Not at all. What I’m trying to point out is that sometimes the voice that accuses you of being the only person in the world with an unemployment problem is the same voice that tells you all of the other lies: “You’re unemployable,” “You haven’t accomplished anything in your life,” “You’ll never get a job,” “No one would hire a guy like you.” And that devilish voice could go on and on until you start believing it to be true.

But today’s blog is to drown out that voice. There is a purpose, a job, some kind of work, that God wants us to do. And He’s got it there for us. It may not be glamorous, it may not be executive-class, and it may even seem mundane or useless. But knowing that God gives us all things, we can rest assured that our working lives or the things we do each day can bring glory to God.

Here are some articles that are really uplifting (in a literal and metaphorical sense). Unemployed, worried, frustrated, but always looking up to God. I suppose it’s always nice to hear of people, especially Christians, going through similar trials, and to know that you’re not alone at this stage in life. Yes, it sometimes feels as though God doesn’t care, or that He’s so far away from you, but reading these articles helps put things back into perspective. God’s always with you (Yahweh, God with us), and He knows what you need. Financial problems? God knows. Relationship problems? He’s there. Health struggles? Yep, He’s the healer. And so with work, that He knows what we need and He provides in our times of difficulties and struggles. Read the articles and I’m sure you’ll be encouraged.

A corporate trainer doesn’t let unemployment get her down. By Beth Carey.

Daddy at the unemployment line, by Jeffrey Dunetz.

The Bible on unemployment, by Phil Wheeler.

God provided for us while I was unemployed, by Jamie.

Unemployment: A gift in disguise, by Candace Simar.

Here’s a great verse(s) from scripture to remind us of God’s presence and sovereignty during our times of loneliness and isolation.

“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:21-26).

Just got a call about the ESL Teacher position at an international school here in Toronto. Looks like I’ll be interviewing there on Monday for what appears to be a part-time position (or maybe not part-time). It’s my good news for the day.

I e-mailed yesterday’s interviewer and told her I was most likely not the right candidate for the position, and that it was best to leave me out of the hiring loop. I haven’t heard back from her, and I hope it doesn’t offend the person who referred me!

Another recruiter told me that she had “forwarded” my profile to the client (a NPO) and we’re waiting on a response. Some news is always good news!

I found this Website that holds a lot of Christian rock/pop/alternative music.

http://www.geocities.com/ccmsingles/chr.html

I shouldn’t make this a habit, writing my jobless posts each Friday. There’s no fun or humour in being jobless, and although my faith allows me to look upwards, I know that there are others who feel like there’s no hope in sight.

I had a terrible interview yesterday, first with the Director of HR and then the two hiring managers. It was definitely not a positive interview for me, though I think the two hiring managers let me off easily. I hung my head all the way home, wondering what in the world I was doing interviewing at a place for a position I had no reason applying for. Nonetheless, I know that God’s bigger than all of this, and His ways are ultimately better than my ways.

I applied for an ESL position yesterday, my first application here in Canada. Waiting to see what happens there. I’m hoping to get some kind of response because of my extensive experience and job fit, but I’m not counting on it.

In other news, I’m reading a fantastic book about farming, agriculture, and the lives of farmers. It’s called Fields of Plenty by Michael Ableman, and it’s his philosophical and practical observations taken from a summer’s journey across America, visiting selected farms and interviewing the farmers. He has such a wonderful voice, one that clearly reflects his passion for farming. As an experienced farmer himself, he knows the rewards and perils of farm life, and he places you into the lives of unique farmers across America. You get to meet goat farmers, cheese makers, ice cream makers, market gardeners, urban market gardeners, and long-standing “back to the land” enthusiasts. Truly one of my best reads this year.

 Fields of Plenty: A Farmer’s Journey in Search of Real Food and the People Who Grow It.

Well the prospect of a job is getting better, as I have one of the best leads I’ve had since I began looking for work six weeks ago. In addition to that, I’ve registered with another recruiter and there’s a big potential for work with a non-profit organization. I met with them yesterday and my computer skills assessment even wowed me, as I did very well on the MS Office package skills.

I’ve been greatly encouraged by a radio series called, “Discover the Word,” by RBC Ministries. One podcast in particular made an impact on my life. It was by the senior teacher of the series, who teaches at one of the most famous seminary colleges in the world, and whose voice and radio manner is very pleasant and inspired. Anyhow, his story was about how Abraham followed God’s direction and went to a place he had never been before, and to his great surprise/horror, there was a famine in the land. The broadcaster told a story of how he was a young father of two who, at that time, was at the bottom of his financial barrel. He and his wife had no idea how they were going to make it through their “famine.”  He even recalled having knelt beside his bed and said to God, “God, if this is what You mean by providing for our needs, then I don’t want any part of it.” But God was faithful. Period. God was faithful. Period. One more time, God was faithful. The most reassuring part of this discussion was the wise words learned from experience, that God is faithful, that He provides for all of our needs, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. Yes, we may strugle with waiting, battle under pressure and try to do things on our own. But this broadcaster said, reaching what I assume is the late fall or early winter of his life, that through experience of having lived a long life, he knows the biblical and scriptural promise that God made to us: God is faithful.

And that’s exactly what brought me light yesterday, a somewhat slow Monday morning. As I’ve written before, some days I feel as though there’s no hope for a job, that I’ll be unemployed and suffering in a drought. But no, God will provide, even at the eleventh hour, He will be there. In fact, He’s always there, nurturing us, showing us, caring for us, scultping our hearts. And I’m thankful for the plans he has for me and my family, and I pray continuously for His provisions and blessing in our lives. “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” (Romans 12:12)

Here I am, mid-week, getting a little anxious about work. I’m still waiting, yes, waiting for an answer from one of the companies that has had me interviewing and testing for almost a month now. I have another interview arranged for a different position, but the original position which I applied for has yet to come to a conclusion. So I wait.

A friendly recruiter phoned and told me she’s forwarding my profile to a client that is a very suitable match for me. It’s only a part-time position, but I am very excited about it nonetheless. It’s in an environment that I’m so familiar with, doing something that is familiar. Now if only the hiring manager on the client’s end sees my abilities and potential!

I’ve been clearing away some space in my mind for the upcoming applications for Teacher’s College. It’s a lengthy application process, and I think it’s going to require a ton of energy and resources. I think I have a good shot at the University of Western Ontario and Wilfrid Laurier, which would suit me just right. The deadline is November 30th which is very quickly approaching!!

I don’t have much else to write about. Just waiting…

As the title of this post read, it’s my fourth jobless Friday. Today, however, was a very different day. The recruiter I met with yesterday kindly phoned with a flurry of offers, two for today and two starting on Monday. Now you might think I was a little happy about this–yes, I was–but the challenge and the pay scale just wasn’t there.

For example, today’s “temp-tation” was a temporary assignment downtown as a concierge. Now how’s that for a temp job? I was going to accept it but Suz had was out registering for a community children’s program and I was at home with Jasper. I simply didn’t know when she’d return home and I couldn’t commit to her offer. So I let it pass.

Another offer was for a pharmaceutical company doing……drum roll……..data entry. I’ve done data entry before, and I know that it’s not exactly a difficult or challenging job. That wasn’t the only problem about the job. This position would take me out to Etobicoke, and without a car, I’d be traveling for a long time to get to work, just to make an hourly wage of….gasp….$11.50.

OK. I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, and I certainly don’t want to sound like a spoiled suck who won’t work for anything under $14 an hour. I’ve seen poverty in parts of the world firsthand, and I know that I shouldn’t complain about job offers. Yet, I also know that accepting that offer would put me (and my family) further back than further ahead. in addition, taking the job would mean having that on my resume for life. (It’s a 3-month contract.) Anyhow, I declined politely, wrote her a long e-mail explaining my situation, and I haven’t heard back from her today. Hmmm…

As for the other job I’ve had on the back burner for almost a month now, I still haven’t had a conclusive offer. That bums me out a bit, but I can’t expect an answer because it’s not my decision to make. I’m thinking Monday will bring a firm closure to that job, but I’ve been wrong before, so I might be wrong again.

In closing, one of the deepest, most meaningful passages from the Bible for me right now is this: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”(1 Timothy 6:6, NIV)  or “Religion with contentment brings great wealth.” (NLT)  I like the NLT translation because it really highlights the accumulation of wealth and the problems with “loving money.” As the passage continues, “For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.” (NLT, my bold, 1 Timothy 6:10) 

 Now look at this one, also from 1 Timothy: “After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” (NLT, my italics, 1 Timothy 6:7-8)  How awesome are those three verses when you combine them together!

God’s saying: “Look guys. Be content and godly. After all, you didn’t bring anything and you’re not taking anything with you. So if you’ve got food and clothes, be content! Don’t mess around and scheme and fall in love with your money! Don’t trust your money. Use your money to do good things! Be generous! Store up your treasures in heaven, not on earth!”

How cool is that for me? Too cool. Why? Because right now I’m struggling with the covetousness (a mouthful of a word). I look at others and desire what they have. Kind of like envying property or situations. I sometimes feel sorry for myself and my jobless situation or my income level, and I covet others for their property or situations or careers. But when I get back in focus, I realize that, dude, you’ve got it good. God is good to you. He has provided you with everything you need and more. So what’s with the covetousness?

I learned an important lesson about coveting others. I think of this question: “Did God save me just so I could continue coveting people’s property and situations?”   Similarly, “Did Jesus die for me just so I could worry about all the things in my life that haven’t happened to me yet?”   Of course the answer to these two questions are, no, God didn’t save me so that I could covet, and no, Jesus didn’t die for me just so I could worry.

Those, friends, are liberating answers to a worrying and covetous spirit.

I met with a second recruiter downtown in ther heart of Canada’s financial world. The walk downtown on a busy Thursday afternoon is a totally different world. It’s a time when everyone’s wrapping up lunch and heading back to their offices, and on this warm and sunny late summer day, the mood outside seemed livelier than I’ve seen. Mind you, I haven’t been downtown too often these days.

You know what it felt like walking downtown today? As I came out of the subway, it felt like I was swimming down a tributary in a big river system, joining all of the other kinds of fish swimming in the same direction. One sudden stop and the guy behind snubs your heel; one unannounced turn and you’re cutting off the faster “swimmer” on the left.

I couldn’t help but ask myself, do I want to be here? Is this where I want to be? Is this where I should be?

Of course, only God knows the answer of the last question. If I could have it my way, I’d probably not be there at all! I’d be hidden away on a farm on the other side of the Kai Mai’s, watching Jasper run on the green grass and singing to the crowd of daisies. I’d see Suz leaning on the door frame at the porch, smiling with amazement and amusement that our son sings and plays and celebrates the simplest things in life.

Hmmm…that’s if I could have it my way. And I know that there’s purpose here for me, and I’m not here by accident. So on with the show!

I also noticed this afternoon that no matter how fancy and elaborate a building we build, the people that go them are still the same. There was nothing fancy or elaborate about the people at the office I entered. I felt as if I had walked into a living cliche: gum-chewing receptionist fixing her make-up while letting the phone ring one too many times.

The interviewer asked me the standard questions. What kind of work are you aiming for? What are your strengths (and weaknesses)? What would your co-workers say about you? What’s your biggest accomplishment?

There weren’t many “situational-behaviorial” questions, which kind of seemed odd. I suppose she must have been tired of asking the same questions over and over. I couldn’t imagine recruiting people every single minute of a work day, but I guess that ‘s why I’m jobless and they’re not.

So today was a much better day, emotionally at least, than yesterday. I’m still jobless but I’ve got an interview with a recruiter tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got a slight headache after several hours of searching on the Internet and filling out forms for recruiters and selection tools. As I said in previous posts, searching for work is not exactly the best experience you’ll enjoy in yourlife–it may rank somewhere between having the flu and a thousand consecutive paper cuts. But there is, I’m sure, light at the end of the jobless tunnel. A job turns into experience which turns into more advanced positions which turns into senior roles. Joblessness is a phase in one’s life to be somewhat enjoyed for what it is: a phase.

The phone sits next to me and every time it rings, I get a little jolt of adrenaline, expecting the person on the other end of the line to offer me an amazing job. Well, more often than not, it’s the Toronto Public Library that phones to tell me my orders are ready to be picked up; or it’s my mom. 

Some days it’s simply hard to pick up that phone and dial the number, possibly out of fear of rejection or a mixture of laziness and anxiety. I’ve felt that way a few times in my current jobless stage. “Should I call? Hmm…..I should call. Yeah, I should call, shouldn’t I? What if they don’t respond? What if I get rejected? Should I call just to get rejected? I shouldn’t call just to get rejected, should I?”

Ahhh….yes. Once the brain starts functionin in modal logic, the possible outcomes that work rabbit trails in our minds start to really become elaborate.

When you’re jobless and actively searching for work, there’s no feeling worse than thinking about the leads and the time you’ve spent over the past three weeks cultivating potential jobs. But, of course, after you’ve cultivated and have no fruit to show for it, you’re left sitting in front of your computer, staring aimlessly at similar ads you’ve already applied for. The feeling is a perfect blend of nausea, disappointment, resentment, and loss.

Today was one of those days when I thought I was worthless, unemployable, and had nothing to offer the working world. Today was one of those days when I shoved my face straight into my pillow and tried to suffocate the feelings of anxiety and worthlessness. Today was just one of those days when the losers outpaced the winners, as they say in stockmarket lingo.

On a rating of 1 to 10, today was probably a 1 or a 2. Nothing could kick-start a re-balancing of my internal mood; no momentum could sway my negative outlook towards the median.

Being unemployed is probably the hardest and commonest situations a person faces in the developed world. Yes, divorces and deaths are probably worse situations to go through, but being unemployed for longer than expected and intended does immense damage to a person’s confidence levels and psyche.

So if you’re reading this because you’ve typed in the words “jobless” or “unemployed” into a blog search engine, well, you’re not alone. There are millions of people around the world who are unemployed, and there are always people who are worse off than you are. Don’t despair. God knows your situation and he cares about you.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:6)

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"Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel," by Laura Byrne Paquet (Fredericton:Goose Lane Editions, 2007) "The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping malls, and the Search for Home," by Pico Iyer (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000). "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008).

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