This Time Last Year

Around this time, a year ago, I was still working at Nordstrom, feeling like this season of pseudo-unemployment would never end and there was no job in sight. I think I had just applied to my current work place, but it was radio silence for weeks, so I wasn’t holding my breath.

To be quite honest, I thought I might never work again. I know that sounds overdramatic, but in the moment, that’s really how I felt in the midst of all the waiting. When I was laid off from my previous job, I had a bag packed with all my office supplies that sat in my study. I told myself, “Surely, I will get another job in a few months,” so I left everything securely in the bag. But when a year and a half went by and there were still no job prospects, I finally unpacked the bag, thinking I would never return to the office. Honestly, when people asked how the job search was going, I’d say, “I’m starting to think I will never work for someone else again. Maybe that’s just not God’s plan for me. Maybe the plan is for me to be an entrepreneur.”

Desperation Leads to Faith

At this point last year, I was about four-months pregnant. I remember, there were days when I would think, “How in the world am I going to raise a child on this measly retail salary?” But, God reminded me that he cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and he will provide for my baby too. You can read more about my point of surrender and my conversation with God here.

Then, I would get overwhelmed thinking about how I was going to raise a child while working a retail schedule. The interesting thing is that I was so overwhelmed by the thought, that I told myself, “Melissa, don’t even go down that road. You don’t know what God can do between now and when this child is born. Who knows! You could be working another job and this schedule will be a non-issue.”

Where that thought came from, I have no idea. Like I said, I was utterly convinced I would never work again, and there wasn’t even a potential job. No one had called me for an interview in years! There was really no reason to think my circumstances would ever change. But, somehow, probably out of sheer desperation, I had to hold on to hope that God would provide a solution to my dilemma. And not only was I hopeful, but I really had faith that my circumstances could change within months.

Suddenly, Hope Appears

Sure enough, a few weeks later, I got a call from a local Christian private school to go in and interview. I had applied for a social media/writer position. At the time, I thought there might be a connecting thread since I blogged, but I lacked some of the criteria because they wanted someone with a design background.

When I went in for the interview, I was shocked because they basically said up front they didn’t think I was a good fit for the job, but they brought me in just to meet me. They were expanding and had some roles to fill, but nothing was firm. At this point, I had no idea where this was going…

Previous Experience for Context

During the interview, the craziest things happened. But first, let me provide some context. My last “real” job was at a local non-profit that provides foster care. I worked in continuous quality insurance/quality assurance. Even though I had developed some skills, I felt like my time there was kind of a waste because the skills were probably not transferrable elsewhere. I worked on foster care policy very specific to the State of Texas, and unless I found a job at another foster care agency, I didn’t see how I would ever use those skills/knowledge again.

After I was laid off from the non-profit, I spent the last two years working at Nordstrom as a salesperson.  For two years, I didn’t put my retail experience on my resume. Honestly, I was scared that it would seem irrelevant and make me appear desperate. I only put it on there recently because my mother-in-law told me that if I ever interviewed anywhere and didn’t include that, then it would seem like I was intentionally hiding something (which I was! I was ashamed of working retail for two years, something completely unrelated to what I studied and I thought it would make them think I was a loser). After that conversation with my mother-in-law, I finally decided to put Nordstrom on my resume. I think I finally became humble and confident enough to put it on my resume, recognizing that it didn’t define me, and it’s a part of my experience and story.

God Doesn’t Waste Anything!

The craziest things happened during the interview. First of all, you remember that job at the non-profit that I thought was kind of useless? Well, I only got this interview because there was a mutual connection through my previous job.

It turns out that the women who interviewed me used to lead the quality assurance department I worked in. (She worked there for years before me, so our time didn’t overlap.) So, even though I thought the skills I learned weren’t transferrable, she had a very good understanding of some of my other skills that she thought would be helpful – attention to detail, writing, command of words/language, etc. As a result, she didn’t have to ask me about my skills in the interview because she already knew what they were and valued them.

The other crazy thing is that the interviewer specifically said she was interested in hearing more about my experience working at Nordstrom. There was a school spirit store and they needed a new manager, someone to help pick out the right products and provide customer service.  I was completely dumbstruck. All this time I was worried that my retail experience would be a hindrance, obstacle, or setback, but it was the very thing that got me hired.

Is that not the craziest thing?! I mean, for 2.5 years, I felt like I was wasting away at this job…wasting my education, time, brain, etc. (It doesn’t mean that it was a waste, but this was my perception in the moment.) To the point where I didn’t even think it was worthwhile to add it to my resume! But this very thing that I thought was insignificant, was the very reason they were interested in me! In that moment, I could hear my friend’s voice saying, “Melissa, God doesn’t waste anything!”

God Works All Things Together

Later that week, I got called in for a second interview, but again, nothing was solid. Where this was heading, I had no idea! To reiterate, they didn’t even have an actual job to offer me! I was just following through the motions, not knowing where this would go.

About a week later, my current boss asked to meet with me and she gave me a formal offer. She created a position – communications coordinator, based off of what she saw as my skills and strengths. To be honest, when you’re in the job search process, there’s so much self-aggrandizing, talking yourself up so it sounds like you’re the right person for the job. But realistically, I had no idea what the job really entailed. I didn’t study communications or marketing. I had no idea what I was signing myself up for!

I started work in January and it has been such a blessing. Who knew I would love marketing and communications?! And some people actually think that I do a good job at it?! Honestly, from my perspective, that is just by God’s grace.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Those 2.5 years in the wilderness, I knew that God was using it for his purposes, but I didn’t KNOW he was using it for his purposes. I had to have faith and trust he knew was he was doing because he was preparing me for the future. I had no idea that my time in quality assurance at a local nonprofit would create the connections that would lead to my current job. I didn’t know that my random stint in retail, would land me this position. AND, I definitely didn’t know that my desperation from working retail would lead me to blogging, and in turn give me the skills to think like a marketing and communications professional! All the things I didn’t know! BUT, GOD KNEW!

In the last 2.5 years, God knew exactly what needed to happen to get me to where I am now. The struggles and the suffering, it was necessary to accomplish God’s purpose in my life now. And looking back, though it was painful, I am SO THANKFUL for that time in the wilderness. I look back on it with such fond memories of a sweet sweet time, clinging to my Savior, and enjoying close fellowship with him.

The other thing worth mentioning is how quickly this came about. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I landed this job shortly after surrendering control of my career to God. I think God loves it when we surrender our lives to him because that’s when he really gets to shine. Meaning, when we surrender, we can finally do the thing God is calling us to do and he gets the glory.

So, if you’re anything like me, or going through anything remotely similar…maybe you’re dealing with unemployment, or you’re wrestling with God and don’t want to surrender… Hang in there! Know and trust that God works all things for good. He doesn’t stand idly by. God knows what needs to happen. If there’s anything you’re holding onto, just surrender. It will make your life so much easier if you give God control.

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