A few years ago, when employed by the Bangor Daily News and feeling like I needed a change, I applied for a job with a local organization. I was one of just a few to receive an interview. The pay was incredible. The benefits were amazing.
The only problem was that I was supposed to work in the marketing department spreading messages through social networking and other media that were directly opposed to those I support.
What bothered me was that I was very tempted to take the job if it was offered.
I talked about this with Heather and prayed about it. It bothered me that I was not able to put this away as an easy decision, that there existed the possibility that my principles could be purchased for the right price.
Thankfully, I didn’t get called back for another interview and didn’t have to make the decision.
However, God used the experience and the revelation of my lack of trust in Him in yet another area to motivate me to reassess by which variables I should make decisions.
To be sure, many of us sacrifice our principles to some degree in finding employment, but where should we draw the line?
Now, a few years later and looking in which direction I should point my labor, I am hyperconscious with the investments of my efforts.
As doors close on jobs I pursue, it only seems wise for me to prayerfully carve my own path. The idea seems romantic on the outside, but its pursuit forces me to face things about myself that are hard to be exposed to.
There was a great deal of perceived security in having an idea of how much money I would bring home each week.
I now do not enjoy that luxury, but the lack of that safety net has forced me to realize how much I need to trust in God’s provision on a daily basis. It is a very difficult thing.
It’s easy to read the tales of the Israelites in their exodus from slavery with a bit of snobbery, wondering how they could see miraculous provision from God, yet still be so untrusting and forgetful.
But in living in this new paradigm, I am granted a greater measure of humility to realize that I am the same way. I saw God provide for the Spokes and Jokes trip when the idea seemed ludicrous. Its development and execution were amazing.
However, we were eventually on our way back from the trip, and I was scared to come home. I would be re-entering a context of confusion and uncertainty.
My second day back was very dark and seemingly hopeless. In addition to having no real prospects for making money there was also an added burden. We had been receiving help from the state for food assistance since I left work, which I was waiting to not need anymore. This is an embarrassing thing to mention publicly, and was a humiliating thing to apply for, especially when a lot of my friends are ultraconservative Republicans who openly and coldly reveal their hardheartedness for people in need of such programs.
I felt like we needed to get off the program on principle alone. We had seen God provide last fall when we cut up our credit cards because we knew that He did not want us to live like that. When making the decision, we had no idea how it was going to work out. The numbers did not match up. We were not even making enough money to pay our bills.
However, in the next few months, we were able to pay down a ton of debt, keep our bills paid, and never touch the credit card again. Within that time, we also raised thousands of dollars to live off while I worked on the road during Spokes and Jokes.
With that provision in mind, Heather and decided we needed to refuse the food benefits we were eligible for. I was very scared, but it felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t even know how we were going to pay our bills, let alone deal with this added burden.
I called DHHS, the administrator of the program. That’s humiliating enough. DHHS is for people who beat their wives and starve their children. There was a very difficult stigma to overcome to get their help initially, but I had to get over my pride back when I applied for the program. Now I was calling to cease my food benefits.
“Are you sure?”, said the lady on the other end of the phone. “You are actually eligible for twice the amount you are now receiving.”
“Yes. This is the right thing to do,” I said. “It is really easy to get addicted to these government programs. I want to give God the opportunity to prove himself strong in this situation.”
I believe I should’ve applied for the aid originally, as I did, because pride was the only reason I wouldn’t. However, things had changed, and I now believed I needed to get off of it because it was my lack of faith that would persuade me otherwise.
I feel vulnerable mentioning this publicly, but God works best through me when I’m open and honest, so I am trusting Him again that, as I lay out a true account of my situation before others, he will bless me for trusting Him with the results.
We have now been home for only six weeks and my prospects have already borne fruit.
* I worked out a couple barter deals with local farms for locally-grown produce and meat.
* I took over the ad sales responsibilities of Funnies Extra and brought it from a financial liability to a money-making asset in one month, thanks in part to the hard work Heather had put in for the last 18 months selling ads.
* Our backup storage freezer is full of food, none of which was purchased by us. It was either spontaneously gifted, picked off our land, or obtained in a barter deal.
* I received a job as the marketing and promotions director of a local organization (more details when it’s official).
* I received another job writing humor columns for a new magazine coming to the area soon from someone who called me out of the blue.
* I have been assisting my friend Chris from Chris Downs Computer Room in repairing technology in his busy office.
* I have been getting unsolicited graphic design work through my freelance design business, Nachotree Print & Digital Design.
* I have been honored to be speaking to a group of 18-30 year olds at Reach in Brewer in Tuesday nights. This is not a job, but a ministry opportunity.
* I have two standup engagements planned for September, with more to be planned, one of which which likely also be in September and be out of state. The routine will consist of stories from our trip.
These are all encouraging developments for me, since it seems that this will be what the next season will look like for me, jobs that offer me opportunity to work more closely with my own vision and offer a variety that makes getting out of bed in the morning a little easier for someone with a personality such as mine.
I am thankful that, in only six weeks, God has brought me from fright when looking at the future to added security and hope through his provision. This context of life upon leaving my full-time job looks a lot different and has been much more difficult than I expected, but my faith in God and appreciation of His provision has grown immeasurably.
I now can be ten times more appreciative of about half of what I had before. That’s some pretty good math.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.“