Thursday, December 29, 2005

Explaining Myself

It's been over five months since Steve and I moved to Tennessee--and for me, it's been five months without a job (save for some freelance work I've been doing for Kingdom Building Ministries). After a long holiday weekend at home, I'm once again tired of trying to explain myself.

Lately, the question "How's the job search going?" has been as common as last year's "How's the wedding planning going?"--and equally un-fun to answer. The people who inquire--whether it's family members, friends I haven't seen in a while, or people at church--mean well, and I know they're just trying to show an interest in my life. Nevertheless, I really struggle to come up with an answer, and I often leave the conversation feeling frustrated, stupid, misunderstood or just plain doubting myself.

The truth is, I have not been aggressively searching for a job for the past couple of months. And though I'm far from "sure of myself," I think that this is where I am supposed to be for now.

When we first moved to Nashville, my dream was to work as an editor for a publishing company--something I would still very much like to do. I sent out resumes and applications and made some contacts, but nothing was available. I considered working in a bookstore, but was not appealing to retail employers since I wasn't interested in working much on evenings and weekends. (I'm not that desperate for a job--it wouldn't make sense since that's the time I available to spend with Steve.)

Throughout this whole process, I've struggled with wondering what this season of my life is all about. I've asked God why He created me a certain way and why He gave me a certain calling and why He placed me in certain circumstances. I've often questioned my own understanding and wondered what I am supposed to be doing right now.

I suppose I could be spending eight hours a day hitting the job market hard. I could be pounding doors down and cold-calling for interviews and such. Instead, I'm seeking to fill my time with other meaningful activities--ones that others don't see, and ones that I don't get paid for. And the truth is, I fail more than I succeed. I've always been someone who thrives off of deadlines, structure and schedules--so to be self-disciplined and diligent when I'm home alone all day is a huge struggle. But I'm trying.

*begin disclaimer* It's always at this point in the conversation that I feel the need to make a huge disclaimer, lest I come across the wrong way. Which is frustrating--the feeling of having to share details of your financial situation with people you aren't even particularly close to. In a sense, it's none of your business! But it seems unavoidable if I want my explanation to be correctly interpreted. The basic situation is, Steve and I decided before we got married that we would live off of his income alone. We're in agreement that I'll stay home once we have kids--and we've heard that many couples get burned by living off two incomes at first, then suddenly having half the income and twice the expenses when the wife quits her job to raise children. So to avoid that difficulty, we decided from the start that any income I brought home would not go toward our daily expenses. Therefore, for me to say, "I don't HAVE to work" isn't meant to say, "We're sitting pretty and Steve makes so much money that I can just live off of him." It means, "We've budgeted carefully so that we can get used to being a single-income family from the start , and that's possible only because of God's grace in blessing us with freedom from debt." *end disclaimer*

Some people are approving, or even a tiny bit envious, when they hear all this. They believe in the importance of homemaking, so they applaud my efforts to serve my husband and cultivate skills like cooking (and anyone who knew me last year would be blown away by the leaps and bounds of improvement I have in point, the fact that I made Cornish hens for Steve's and my Christmas dinner last week). They can clearly see the blessings of staying at home and so my current circumstances make sense to them.

Other people are clearly baffled when they hear my circumstances. To be honest, their reaction is probably one I would have if I were them. It's easy to imagine what keeps a stay-at-home mom busy all day, but a stay-at-home wife? "What do you do all day?!" is the question their faces ask, even if they don't articulate the query. They imagine I must be eating bonbons and watching Oprah all day--what a rough life. (For the record: the TV is never on at our apartment unless we are watching football or a rented video, or I am exercising...and I don't think I've ever had a bonbon, though I do probably eat too much chocolate :)

Staying at home all day has plenty of advantages and blessings, to be sure. It also can bring plenty of frustrations and struggles. I often doubt myself and wonder what I'm doing here at home. But for now, I sense that God has many, many character-building lessons for me to learn during this season--whether it ends next week or lasts indefinitely. Part of the length may depend on me; there are days when I am cooperative, patient and full of trust in God, but there are also (more) days when I am whiny, self-pitying, and rebellious.

I'm already seeing that one purpose staying at home serves is to mortify my pride. I am humbled every time I feel someone's pity when they find out that I "still haven't found a job"; every time the look on someone's face says critically, "What in the world do you do all day?"; every time I fail at using this time wisely and making the most of every opportunity; every time I do anything eternally significant that is seen only by God rather than in the spotlight.

Ultimately, I'm trusting that God in His sovereignty ordained this "time in obscurity" for me, and that it's His best for me, for His greatest glory. Tuesday night on the way back home after our Christmas in Ohio, He gave me a little confirmation and assurance through some lyrics on one of my favorite CDs. This is where I am right now:

Sitting in the waiting room of silence
Waiting for that still soft voice I know
Offering my words up to the rooftop to Your heart
Trusting that this closet's where You are
Lord, I know if I change my mind
You will change my heart in time
Sovereign Lord this time's from You
So I sit in the waiting room of silence
Cause it's all about You

--"Waiting Room," Shane & Shane


rebekah said...

amy, again, good thoughts.

:) that disclaimer was great. blogging has its +s and -s... like the fact that disclaimers can be necessary to prohibit the nosey from incorrect interpretations.

but anytime you would like to come and switch and take my life and job you are welcome to do just that :) ... right.

hope to see you soon!

dottie said...

hey amy-
i enjoyed reading this post, getting a deeper glimpse into your life. like rebekah, i give you props for your disclaimer :o)

your analysis of a couple getting used to two incomes and then suddenly having only one when one person stays home with the kids was insightful. as i think to this summer when i'll be searching for a full-time job, i'm trying not to be too tempted by any high-salary (but highly unfulfilling) jobs i could potentially get when i'll have my fancy schmancy master's degree. i don't need to get used to having a ton of money. i think that would lead to discontentment down the road, b/c i'll enjoy having that much and i'll be dissatisfied with less (even though i'm perfectly capable of living off of less). does that make sense? plus, i think most english majors are certainly NOT in it for the money. :o) i'm just in it to use my gifts to help people, however that may manifest itself.

i'm confident that God will be using you and your many gifts and talents even if it's not in a 9 to 5 kind of way. way to be open to remaining at home, instead of thinking that you must must must rush right out and get some job pronto b/c it seems to be "the thing to do."

if you want, though, i can set up some deadlines for you, or i can mail you some bonbons. :p just kidding about that bonbon thing.

keep on keepin' on.