The Cycle Of Searching

Let’s take a flashback trip to the fall of 1998.

The number of college applications departing from my mailbox is barely exceeded by the number coming in. I spend hours in front of my computer, tying up the phone line with my then-typical dial-up Internet connection, as I pour over admissions figures and examine pictures of dorm rooms along the east coast.

Four acceptance letters and a couple hundred dollars later, I made a decision. In the interest of financial aid, the next phase of life will be spent at my safety school.

Now let’s fast-forward six years later.

My degree from my safety school served me well—mostly as a ticket to grad school. (Word to the wise: attending a university that doesn’t offer your major of choice has its drawbacks.) I’ve experienced flashbacks to my senior year of high school frequently over the past weeks. As graduation and the master’s degree that accompanies it draw near, my search begins anew.

This time, it’s for a job.

I’ve found that little has changed. I scour the Internet for job listings using my now-archaic dial-up connection. (I’m a grad student. I have to cut corners somewhere.) Instead of struggling to compose the perfect essay for a school that won’t admit me, I analyze my cover letter and resume. Is this attention-grabbing enough? Have I clearly illustrated my experience? Am I doing this right?

On my nightstand, What Color is Your Parachute? has replaced U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Colleges. Now I jot my thoughts and scheme for my future in coffee shops—befitting the struggling writer I am—instead of during the Ecology lecture I should be minding.

There is one big difference: this time, there’s no “safety.”

That fact could become nerve-wracking, if I let it. I am, after all, your typical type A, anal-retentive control freak. I suppose that’s another important difference. As I endure another life-changing search, I realize God’s in control.

I wasn’t so confident in his provision six years ago. But as I’ve followed Him and established a relationship with Him over the past five years, I’ve gotten to know a God who cares about the intimate details of my life. His promises can be difficult to cling to as I blanket the country with resumes and pray for interviews. I don’t want to become a full-time employee at one of the coffee shops I frequent; I’d rather put my (too expensive!) degree to use. But I take comfort in knowing that God has met my greatest need through Jesus Christ. Why then should I think He’s too small to provide for my day-to-day concerns?

Even as I flash back to the application process of years past, I find myself singing a comforting reminder from Derek Webb: “You can’t plan the ends and not plan the means.” That reflection on Scripture is dead on. I praise God regularly that I’m not singing the next line: “So I suppose I just need some peace just to get me to sleep.”

See Also

For once, I’m already living in it.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

[Carla Jean Whitley’s daydreams are still filled with an entry-level position in editing—or writing—or publishing. But she takes comfort in knowing full-time Starbucks employees walk away with a free pound of coffee each week.]

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