Jobless – Part 7

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Building up expectations, creating unrealistic time frames, feeling like our end goal is the end all, be all can all lead to frustration or anxiety. We end up feeling as though we have to power through what we want rather than enjoy the process and just let the result come as it may.” – Gretchen Bleiler

So it’s been over four months now. I have to admit it is getting more difficult as time goes on. When you know you work hard and are pretty darn good at your job, you really don’t think finding a new one will be difficult. Then you realize some of the roadblocks….that you’re perceived as older than you view yourself, your salary isn’t really crazy high but higher than many simply as a result of being in the work force for a long time (so that makes another pool of employees more attractive), and even when you tell folks that you are OK with the idea of commuting an hour or two away for the right job (and are capable of deciding that for yourself before you seriously entertain any job), they don’t always believe you. Even though they don’t really know you.

I guess there is comfort in that, too…these people don’t really know you. They’re looking at you through eyes that see the experiences and people they have experienced in their lives, and not really you. They’re forming an impression of you and one or two sentences poorly worded can impact that impression. I’m a straight shooter. Sometimes people can get the wrong impression with that….or even doubt what I say. Logically I know I can’t control that, but should I try to fit in more and be a bit less me? The recruiters would tell me a resounding yes, but I am looking for a certain kind of workplace. While they test me during these interviews, I also test them. What better way to find if we are compatible?

Having hired people in my past, I understand the random nature of it. Did I always hire the best person? Nope. Did I always believe the answers they gave me to my questions? Nope. Sometimes I just was tired of interviewing and hired the next good person, instead of the stellar one I interviewed three weeks ago. I figured it was just easier. Does that make sense? Not necessarily. The whole process doesn’t make a lot of sense.

And I interviewed folks under the old interview system, since I didn’t hire people in my last job. These days you can simply be out of the mix because your resume has the wrong key words. Or your Linked In profile isn’t exaggerating your accomplishments. Sometimes I giggle when I read those of people I know, but truth is that it probably works for them. I’m confident in my own accomplishments, but always really careful about their authenticity. Maybe I downplay some things. I’m bad with knowing the quantitative results of my past experience. Did I save clients $1.2 million in 2018 as a result of the work I did negotiating rate increases and such? Maybe, that was something I was good at, but I never thought to keep track of that sort of thing. What was the total amount of premium for the book of business I managed? I get asked that a lot and have absolutely no clue. Someone gave me a thinly veiled suggestion that I should make up numbers because no one could dispute them. Well, I could dispute them. That’s enough. But I would advise you to keep track of this sort of thing….it would come in handy. I just never took the time, because I was focused on the job at hand.

I’ve looked at my bank accounts lately and cringed. Don’t worry….I’m doing fine financially….but what if I go six more months without a job? Those savings I had for this possibility becoming reality…..I really didn’t want to use them!

So it’s time to start looking at my budget and see what I can cut. Last week I finished getting outstanding dental work done. At the end of this month I will cancel my COBRA dental coverage. I’m looking at things like cable TV…..I may turn it on once a week. Is that a necessary expense? I don’t think so. My home phone… I need it? I think I have included it on a couple of job applications, so I will try not to use it on them in the future and see if I can do that in a month or two. I’ll also probably take some time to look at things like my car and homeowner’s insurance. Is it time to change? I haven’t looked at it for years. When I start thinking about these things I realize there is some fat in my budget, and some things I can manage better that I have been neglecting. Why not cut some of it now instead of later?

While at times frustrating, I still can’t help but be grateful for this time. Waiting is one of the best exercises of our faith. If I really trust God, this is one of those times where the rubber meets the road. When those worried moments hit, I tell myself “Exercise that faith.” And I breathe in and out a few times and it’s all OK. I do trust. I may not know the next road, but the godly GPS is there and working well.

I can spend only so much time job hunting and I have decided I need to make a more concentrated effort to use my time well. I’m someone who could easily read my life away, but that’s not the healthiest approach (though it will always be a large part of my life…..and there is a ton of books on my list I have yet to get to.) I have complained that my job often made me too sedentary….why the heck am I still spending so much time sitting down? It’s time to plan more and better and enjoy the opportunity to be more active. I can volunteer more and spend more time with friends. There are tons of places in the area I have said I wanted to go. Why not now? That’s my plan for the next few weeks. To plan my days better and not be idle. Life was meant to be savored, working or not. But it takes effort. When we make that effort, we reap the rewards. So why not do it?


Peter, Naked

“Jesus’ favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water.” – John 21:7 CEV

We’ve studied this passage the last two weeks at church. I admit when the scripture was read, my mind started wandering. I was thinking about Peter, naked.

Oh, I know I was probably not the only one. Things tend to distract us. Especially the word “naked”….which was in the version of the text actually read. Probably pastors should include it every Sunday and attendance may go up. But then again, maybe the congregation will get distracted.

I started thinking more about Peter, though. Naked Peter.

There he was, out with the friends fishing. I suppose he didn’t want tan lines, or maybe didn’t want to smell like fish, or maybe wanted to annoy his friends, so he took off his clothes.

Then Jesus, “the holy one”, shows up. Peter, startled, jumps in the water. All of a sudden his nakedness was not appropriate. He was a disciple, after all. One of the chosen. He hid himself. Or tried. He wasn’t comfortable being that same version of him when Jesus was around.

Yet this was the same guy who was confused as to why Jesus would doubt the quality of their relationship. He couldn’t believe Jesus would question his love. Oh Peter, it’s in the little things that you betray yourself.

I’m a people watcher. Yes, I’m the one who watches you even sometimes when you think no one is. (Creepy? Maybe.) Those times are important…..because they portray the real you. Or a part of the real you that you try to hide from me. From others. From yourself. I have always found the inconsistencies interesting and it’s simply easier to see them when you are unaware. I don’t set out to “spy”…..I just don’t turn away when I see you.

Oh don’t worry…..I gather data at other times. When you know I am watching. What you say, how you say it. When you appear nervous. When you’re overly poised. When your story isn’t quite the same this time as last time you told it. We all collect not just what is said, but what your body tells us. Well, most of us do.

Because I am a data gatherer, I just may know far more about you than you think I do. Many people in your life probably do. That which you think you hide, often is not well hidden.

Oh, many of us will not bring it up. Often there is no reason. That which you think you need to hide, would not be a concern to us. That you feel you need to hide it? Far more interesting.

There are people who are different around me than they are around other people they know. Some would say that is natural. They don’t want to upset people by being something that would displease them, so they put on different versions of themselves. It’s the “polite” thing to do. It’s the people version of using their inside voice. They want to leave a certain impression, depending on your role in their life.

I made a decision years ago to try to live authentically. I’m nowhere close to perfect, but I try to live consistently…..whether I be around saint or sinner, rich man or poor man, liberal or conservative, president or peon. Because really, why not?

One thing I have found is that life is easier. If someone wants to disagree with me, or tell me how they think I should do or be, then they can have at it. I may choose to listen, I may not. But it happens far less than you would think. I’ve learned to pick my battles, so even if I listen, I may choose not to engage. I get to choose how to live my life and am confident enough in my choices that I own them.

This is not to say I have no right to keep things private. I get to decide this, too. But keeping things private and hiding things…..there is a subtle but important distinction.

Peter is known for denying Christ, even after saying over and over he would never do it. Did he really believe it, or was he just jumping into the water, trying to hide? I suspect a very human Peter was just a very imperfect man. Vulnerable…like us.

This other verse was part of our scripture today “ “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31-32

Jesus knew Simon was going to fail. But still, he had faith that Peter would still have a purpose, a ministry. He would realize the error of his ways and he would still (or especially) be able to help others.

Live naked. OK, maybe not without clothes. I personally plan to protect the eyes of the world and would ask you to join me. But when you feel the need to cover yourself, to appear as something you’re not, examine why.

One thing I know about Jesus……he could have handled Peter’s nakedness. I suspect he would have been amused by it. In fact, I think he would have preferred that version of Peter instead of the one prettied up and well dressed. Jesus, the son of God, sees you as you are. And accepts you, just as you are. But wants to use you anyway. Do not feel the need to jump in the water and hide.

As for the rest of us, we can probably handle the naked you. And if we can’t, maybe it is our problem?