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You must read the entry below, coming from a visitor to the blog. The writing in black below comes from a random (or maybe not random) visitor who decided to write something meaningful for the world to read. And boy is it awesome!

“I, too, typed in “God what am I supposed to do?” Did you ever imagine that phrase would be one that brought so many people to your page??

I’m sitting here watching yet ANOTHER free dvd from the library after a dinner of frozen asparagus and bread and cheese, shivering because I can’t afford to turn on my heat, and wondering what I’m going to do now that I’ve drawn the last $30 I’m eligible for in unemployment checks. I’m a good worker, a hard worker, a smart worker. I hate handouts. But I’ve applied for job after job, week after week, for 9 months now and gotten TWO interviews out of it. I pray about it, talk with strong Christians in my life about it, read scripture and meditate on it with my current situation in mind… and still find myself typing my ultimate query and frustration into a Google search. Why?!

You just feel so empty of answers, of logic, of the ability to reason sometimes. You know wisdom is given to those who seek it, but at the end of the day you still want to have a roof over your head, food in your belly. Wisdom may teach you the worthlessness and temporary nature of so many of the things we take for granted as “necessary” parts of our lives, but does wisdom then tell us to expect to live a life of abject poverty and constant hunger because abundance isn’t “necessary”?

I’m not looking for something miraculous. I’m not looking to make loads of money, or even as much as I made at my last job (which I lost because the company closed due to the crumbling economy which is hurting so many of us). I’m not looking for greatness, for gold, or for glory.

I’m looking for sustenance. For the ability to pay my rent, pay for my car, pay for my student loans. To pay back my grandmother who’s generosity has kept me in groceries. To pay back my also-struggling parents who’ve given me so much in the way of true love and support. For the ability to work. To serve and love through work. I love people, I love committing to a task, I love bringing things to completion, I love working.

What’s happening? What is this? Why is this? How is it we can follow God’s commands on how to deal with situations like this and *still* find ourselves, find each other, heaped into a comment board on a stranger’s web page as we all ask this questions we can’t seem to get an answer to?! “God! WHAT am I supposed to DO?!”

I can wait. I have been waiting. I will continue to wait. And I’m running out of money and credit and no closer to a job than I’ve been since I lost my job in May ‘08. I will continue to wait. Maybe that’s what we’re all supposed to do. But the loss, sacrifice, heart ache, pain, and sadness resulting from the situations mentioned on this page– if waiting is what we’re supposed to be doing, shouldn’t some of those symptoms lessen since we’re doing what we’re called to do?

I will continue to wait.”

This is perhaps the most meaningful comment I’ve read on my blog thus far. This entire blog acts as an organic archive of people’s lives around the world who are struggling, including myself. So it’s immensely profound that someone would make an expression of their thoughts, anxieties, worries, and post it as a comment. As Behnnie writes, ” I pray about it, talk with strong Christians in my life about it, read scripture and meditate on it with my current situation in mind…and still find myself typing my ultimate query and frustration into a Goodle search. Why?!”  I’m sure there’s a thesis dissertation lurking in Behnnie’s writing, just waiting and wanting to be penned. How and why is it that so many people type those exact search words into a search engine, seeking meaning? It’s like using and typing in some keywords, praying and hoping for divine intervention or to hear God’s gentle voice. Waiting is so difficult, yet, in many ways, God becomes clearer because of it.


I *thought* I was a random visitor, sent here via your friend and mine: Google. But perhaps it was via a more literal Deus ex machina? LOL! The real irony, though, is in the timing of that comment I left on your blog. You see: After 9 months of unemployment I got a job today.

For the past 2+ years (plus summers since high school) I worked for the family business which, recently beset by one unfortunate struggle after another, finally had to close after 12 years as the weight of the crashing economy further burdened our efforts. Scores of people lost their jobs when the business closed, most of them with spouses and children to support. It was a difficult situation all around. Luckily, however, my dad was able to use his connections to find jobs within days, sometimes even hours, for almost every employee who needed the help. Almost every employee except me. I’ve got two degrees, several years’ work experience, and references who’d loan me kidneys, but no employers were interested. If that ain’t a blow to the self-esteem I don’t know what is.

I spent the summer working with my family helping close things down on the business end, dismantling steel case cubicles to be recycled for cash to keep us in groceries, selling off our remaining inventory of pens, staplers, and post-it notes to keep us in fuel; it was a summer I want to forget. Every day was sad. Every day was the end of days. Every day was a reason to think that maybe, just maybe, things would be better if there would be no more to follow.

I began looking for work in earnest as our efforts to finalize the company began to draw to a close in August. I wanted to look sooner, but every day so far had been so filled with work, sadness, and stress that somehow walking into people’s offices brandishing my resume and a smile seemed a near impossibility. And the that work that filled our days? It was work that didn’t pay. Work that made us weep. But we had God. We had each other. And I? I had a few friends. I had naps. I had library dvds. I had more naps…

I faithfully applied for at least two jobs a week (a condition of receiving unemployment checks), but companies were beginning to really realize the gravity of the economic depression so no one wanted to hire until we all had a better grip on what to expect. All told I attended one job fair (if you’ve ever attended a job fair you understand why attending even one is more than sufficient!), signed up with four staffing agencies and one talent agency, registered with countless job sites (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) which I checked religiously, sent emails to everyone I knew, and searched Craig’s List on a daily basis for postings that weren’t scams. I applied for anywhere from 5-15 jobs a week, every week, for 6 months. If there’s any business in this area that doesn’t have my resume, references, and position specific cover letter at this point I’d be heartily surprised!

From these months of effort I netted one follow-up call asking if I knew how to use Power Point, one interview through a staffing service for a job that went to someone else, and one interview last week which I got because a friend works there and put in a good word for me with HR. My deferred student loans start up again in March, my windshield is cracked from end to end, my auto insurance is up for renewal, and I just drew my final unemployment check on Sunday. It totaled $30. Which brings us to today. To a phone call. To a follow up on last week’s interview. To an offer for a job paying $0.46 more per hour than I need to pay my bills. To a job I don’t know how to do yet but will learn faster than I’ve ever learned anything. To a job near my home. To a job with a friend.

Praise the Lord, stranger. After 9 months in a terrible economy: I have a job.

God has always known my needs, always met them. He has provided ways for me to get by financially during my period of unemployment. He has provided me with strength on days I couldn’t bear to get out of bed. He has provided me with peace and encouragement when I was ready to check out. He has provided me with family and friends who love me and who give me the opportunity to love. And now he has provided me, after nearly a year of waiting, with a job. When following gifts like strength, love, and encouragement, the job really does seem the least of those in many ways doesn’t it…


Character forming.

Two words to summarize this week’s work week.

My first week at work was one of simple and straightforward tasks on the job. There isn’t much room for creativity when you’re simply entering data into a company database. But I think the lessons were still clear: keep your eyes on things above.

I realized that I’ve transitioned (temporarily, at least) from unemployment to underemployment. Yes, I have a job where I’ll earn a paycheck, but perhaps the tasks and responsibilities are not exactly employing the skills that I already possess, and I have yet to expand any set of skills. Of course it’s only the first week at work, and I think I’ll be doing much more than what I’ve just done. Yet I think it’s interesting to see that unemployment, underemployment, and meaningful employment all lack meaning when your eyes aren’t on things above.

When you’re unemployed, you think that God’s abandoned you, or that He’s not listening to your careful and sometimes tearful prayers. That’s not true, is it? He’s always there (Yahweh), shaping us, nurturing us, sustaining us, providing for us, and caring for us. I am so thankful that He provided for us during the last few months.

 In terms of being underemployed, I think this is similar to being unemployed in that one needs to one simple thing: trust God. The sculpting hands of God does wonders when it comes to being able to do something in a godly way, especially if it’s menial or boring, and to do it in a way that brings glory to God. Waiting for God to provide a job when you’re unemployed, and faithfully carrying out our tasks while we’re underemployed, are two very similar things.

So if you’re experiencing unemployment or underemployment, I think the key to getting through this season is to remember that your employer is God above, not Joe below. Are you working for a salary that is well below your expectations and abilities? Keep working and bring glory to God, and watch how the experience changes your attitudes. Are you doing tasks that seem suitable for a bunch of well trained chimps? Keep your eyes on things above and do your “chimp work” so well that people will be amazed by your attitude (and your attitude comes from God!).

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feed them. Are  much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Matthew 6:25-27

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.

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)

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…… 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.

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What I’m reading now

"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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