Since moving to Detroit in November I have been unemployed. For the first few months this was ok. Britt and I had saved before we came and we very generously helped out by family here and back in Ireland. Britt has since found a job and we are still not starving.
We were getting used to our new life, me for the first time living in the USA and for Britt, the first time since she was 18 (She’s now 24).
We knew it was the right thing for us to do and we knew that we would miss people terribly. The first couple of months though were easy and we both, despite missing folk and our church community, were enjoying getting used to new things. Like access to Chillis anytime we want. Or a million different varieties of pop tarts.
In the last month or so however I think we both hit a wall when it came to being here. We weren’t sad that we were here or regretting the move, instead we began to miss our home in Ireland very much.
People, family, Belfast, decent pints of Guinness. (Although I suspect that’s just me).
Before we left I struggled with the job that I had and believed that I was made to do something else. I got very comfortable and didn’t really try and get out of it. I had a regular income, Britt and I never starved and I was probably too frightened to step out. As a result of my job I also had some issues with my self worth. I looked down on myself because I thought that others would look down on me too. Simply because of the job I held or where I imagined other people my age were in their lives. Facebook can be a killer in this respect. Rather than motivating me to look for something else, it actually made me more and more afraid. So I stalled and stayed where I was.
Two things then, that I have learned from the past few months being unemployed.
1. Just because I didn’t have a job I went to everyday didn’t mean I couldn’t work. Other than the obvious and tedious job hunting, I have spent the time writing more consistently than I ever had and I have been reading more. I decided to teach myself coding and I have thrown myself into the work I do with xxxchurch and x3groups. Yeah, there have been times where I have gotten cabin fever but if I don’t have a job I still have a choice. I can still work.
2. Before the move, my self worth was based on the job I had. This wasn’t really my self worth though. My self worth wasn’t my job but rather what people thought of my job. Even then, that wasn’t the end because it wasn’t so much what people thought of my job, but what people thought of me. Admittedly most of this was probably in my head and my own insecurities. I imagined that if I felt this way about myself then others must to.
The longer we have been here and the longer I have been unemployed here those insecurities have started to creep into being unemployed. The embarrassment in having to tell people I still haven’t found a job. Or maybe that too is all in my head.
But the big lesson I have learned from these last few months isn’t so much to do with my job or lack of but with where I place my value.
Where I get that deep inner peace. Do I get it from a job or do I get it from something higher? Am I liked because I have a job that looks good?
These are questions I have struggled with and in doing so have come to the conclusion that if I place my value in those things then I will always be left disappointed. Instead when I start to place my value in my inherent worth because I am loved, I have found that less and less I measure my value by what people think of me.
It actually doesn’t matter what people think of me one way or another. I can release myself from the pressure of finding the perfect job because no longer is that an indicator of my value. I can stop forcing myself to act a certain way around people because their affirmation is not what gives me life.
When I do this I realize that there is more to life than constantly arguing with myself that my life is worthwhile through others opinions. Ironically, it is that type of attitude that drains life from me.
So maybe for you it’s your job or your looks or how smart you are. It could be the successes or failures in your life that shape how you see yourself.
My prayer for you is that you see yourself as someone who is worthy of being loved. Simply because you are you. Because you were created with beauty. Not because of what you do.
It’s a simple prayer that takes guts and work.
Thankfully though, your work isn’t the whole you.