Friday, February 1, 2013


I should be disappointed and down. I didn't get another job that I interviewed for - once again getting just edged out of the running. To be honest, I should feel really down because this job was basically alphabetizing books - I'm an English major. Not exactly rocket science.

But, after being in the interviewer's top four, she went with someone else - someone with specific library experience. Almost chosen - the story of my life, at least in the job market.

I'm not disappointed though. For one thing, the interviewer was very kind and called me to let me know she'd passed on my name and application to another person at the library for a different opening. Since she sent out a mass email to those that didn't get the job, I thought it was really nice and encouraging of her to call to tell me this little tidbit of information.

The other reason I am not overly disappointed is because despite not getting the job, God answered my prayers. After coming home and feeling really upbeat because the interview seemed to go really well, my dear husband - ever the realist - started asking me questions. These questions made me stop and think about whether I really did want this job.

Gripped in indecision and feeling totally conflicted, I prayed that God would show me - very specifically - if He wanted me to have the job. In fact, I prayed that if I wasn't supposed to have the job, for them to just not offer it.

I don't know about you, but I hate making decisions like that - I'd rather have it cut and dried. I think being told you didn't get the job is pretty cut and dried! lol

To be completely honest, lately I have not been enjoying writing articles for our local paper. It's not that I don't appreciate the opportunity. It's not that I don't enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories, or that I don't get a sense of satisfaction from feeling like I've helped someone get the word out or perhaps given readers information that can help them.

The truth is I feel kind of guilty that I don't enjoy my job. I mean, I'm a writer and I'm making money writing. I work from home. I can do my work in my pajamas or write out an article at midnight if I want to. What's not to love? How ungrateful can I be?

So, I asked God - why do I feel so burnt out with this job? On the surface, I should be enjoying it.

God's answer was a bit uncomfortable.

For one thing, I live in fear - fear that I will misspell someone's name or mess up some pertinent fact; fear that I won't be able to come up with another idea; fear that something will go wrong.

You see, the first year I wrote for the paper, it was like I was sabotaged. I could swear I had fixed an error in the article during the editing process, but when I sent it in, the error would still be there. I could swear I had double checked my notes but when I went back, it said something different. I sort of felt like I was losing my mind or maybe I had early onset Alzheimer's. Granted, most of the mistakes the average reader wouldn't even notice - they were mostly style mistakes or small misspellings. (AP style is a weird thing - for instance, you abbreviate the word street in an address but not road).

Then there were the times when the mistake happened AFTER I turned it in, but it still LOOKED like my mistake. Those were even tougher to swallow. As someone who had always prided myself on my writing skills and my accuracy, either kind of mistake was upsetting and deeply humbling.

As someone who hates to disappoint and make people upset with me, it was incredibly hard to listen to my editor get on me about my mistakes. It was hard not to try to justify or defend myself, but even I knew it sounded crazy to say I DID fix that, when it turned up in the editor's inbox not fixed. I almost quit on the spot innumerable times.

As someone who expects perfection from myself in my writing, I had a hard time learning not to beat myself up ad nauseam over my mistakes, especially those that really mattered - like the time I said Belize was in South America instead of Central America and the person I wrote the article about sent me a detailed, scathing email telling me about the many, many things she hated about the article. It was hard not to wake up in the middle of the night and not castigate myself over "what if" or "if only." It was a blow to my pride to know someone thought I was a terrible writer. I had to learn to figure out what I did wrong and then let it go.

At times, I felt under deep spiritual attack. It was hard.

Then the second year, the writing part seemed to go pretty well, but suddenly the pictures became a problem - photographers failed to show up, subjects failed to show up and one memorable time, the photos were actually stolen when the photographer's house was broken into and someone took his laptop. It was like a comedy of errors but I wasn't laughing.

So, I had to learn to extend grace. I had to learn to be patient, think on my feet and come up with a Plan B. I had to learn not to go into panic mode when pictures didn't happen the way they were supposed to. Did I mention usually my reaction to any emergency is to just stand in one spot and shriek? Yeah, calm and cool in a crisis is pretty much not me!

Looking back, I learned a lot from this humble, little job, but my last lesson didn't come to me until the other day. It's when God showed me one reason I'm so tired is my continued fear of messing up.

The truth is, if you write articles long enough, eventually you'll have a mistake. It happens because - gasp - nobody is perfect. I have become sort of paranoid though because of previous experience. I go over my articles at least three times after writing them. I double check every name, every number and every fact. Should I do this? Probably. Do I need to constantly stress over "what if I missed something???" No. Have I ever NOT turned in an article? No. Didn't it always turn out okay, even if a story died or a photographer didn't show up? Yes, God always worked it out somehow.

I'll continue to do my best and double check those pesky details, but I can relax and leave the results in God's hands. I don't have to worry over making a mistake - mostly because I probably will and God's got that covered too.

The other thing God showed me is that this has been a training ground for me. He has other things - bigger things - for me, but no matter how much I thought I was ready before, I really wasn't. I was too soft, too idealistic, and (ouch!) too prideful in my own abilities.

But now, I felt Him showing me that He's ready to take me to the next level. I'm not even really sure, 100%, what that will look but I know He's got it under control. I don't need to worry. I also know I'll probably make mistakes and disappoint people - and that's okay too.

Failures are often where the deepest life lessons can be found. Without failures of our own, our empathy can ring hollow. God can use us when we give Him all of us - even the ugly and messy parts.

~ Blessings, Bronte

1 comment:

  1. Well, if you didn't put into words my feelings...right down to the checking and rechecking part. I feel this so much...the fear, the feeling He's ready to take you to the next level but having no clue what that looks like...all of it. I have no words of wisdom...except that I'm glad we're in it together, friend. : )