Saturday, September 01, 2007

Another Thing About Prayer

Since it's supposed to be two-way communication and all that . . .

I have already firmly established in my mind and through my experience that when it comes to men, and liking them, and potentially marrying one, I am completely deaf to the voice of God. Even when I'm trying really hard to listen. I have twice (count 'em--twice) been utterly convinced that God had told me I was going to marry a certain guy. (The second one was different from the first, of course.) Both guys are now getting married; neither of them to me. Based on this I have decided that if I ever am going to get married, God is going to have to figure out some really creative way to let me know, because I'm never going to trust my gut (and what it thinks it knows God said) on this one again. But I can live with that.

What I'm having a hard time living with right now is that I thought I usually had a pretty good sense about God's leading when it came to other areas of my life. But a recent life-overview is making me rethink this assumption.

For example, I left London in 2002 because I thought God wanted me to. I still remember the reasons, and the things I thought He told me, and though I can certainly see how I've grown from my experiences since then, I can't tell that His Kingdom has benefited all that much from the move. Not to mention that I didn't really know what to do when I got back here, so I went through a year of a Master's degree programme before quitting that, too.

I quit the Master's degree because it seemed like a lot of money for a degree I wasn't going to use (and I'm still paying that year off), and I thought I wasn't going to use it because it seemed that God had given me an idea for a ministry-focused coffee shop. So I moved back to where I am now and started working at Starbucks to get some coffee background.

Three and a half years later, I think I've got background.

Then a couple of months ago, I began to get this sense that God was going to change a few more things around, and that one of the changes involved my backing out of the rather bumpy and problematic Starbucks management track I was on. I thought I might move. Or I thought I might get a job in editing. Or both. And maybe the independent coffee shop idea should still be in the picture . . .

I told my boss I was no longer interested in Starbucks management. (If I ever was in the first place, which is a question worth considering.)

I applied to a lot of jobs. I started thinking about where I was going to live. And then my housing situation changed so that now, barring strange and unforeseen provisions, I'm kind of locked into my current place of residence for the next two or so years. Not to mention that it's hard to convince anybody in editing (or college admissions, which I was also looking at working in) that, with my somewhat untraditional career pedigree, I have the requisite experience. No one was convinced.

I'm okay with asking the "good of the city" question. What I can't figure out is why I keep thinking God's telling me things are going to change, and then when I try to investigate the change, situations occur that leave me even further locked in to the situation I was stuck in to begin with.


Excuse me?

What did You say?


Scott said...

Jenn, remember that you make an IMPACT with every latte served, by the way you spend those 3 minutes with your customer. And you impacted those in your management school, I am sure, and you still impact them through your repayment of the loan.
Don't worry. I too wonder if I am where I am supposed to be at times in career. But I faithfully show up through my struggles of a 4 plus hour round trip commute to show that God is faithful and can be trusted. Keep up your spirits.
sometimes, it took the prophets a long time to get an answer or maybe not at all. Yet it was part of history. Trust is the key.

Stacey said...

Soooo many times (maybe even today) I have been in that space with you, Jenn, the thinking I'm hearing God's voice and then wondering if I'm just plain insane.

A wise, older friend of mine told me recently that you can trust the voice of the Spirit in everything except for love and finances. We seem to get too wrapped up in our own fears or wishes to hear God clearly. My friend also said that the voice of God is clearest when it is in relation to serving someone else - I think that may be true for me.

I'm praying for you sister.

Christianne said...

You have come to mind a number of times since I read these words yesterday morning. I feel frustrated in my inability to convey anything encouraging at all to you in this place.

Sometimes I get caught up in what Kirk and I have learned is something called "functional atheism" -- even though my beliefs are rooted in God, my actions would sometimes say otherwise, so often do I try to make life work in my own ability, without room for God to enter in or have a say.

Not that that's where you are. It's just the way I identified with what you were saying.

Argh. Here I am, at a loss for words of any help. I guess what I've also come to see in the past few years, outside of my functional atheistic moments, is that God really does know what He's doing, and that He seems to be weaving things of His own accord in a way that is perfect, fitting, and right . . . so that, in chance moments, we glimpse it and go "aha."

Jenn said...

Scott--you're so right about the trust thing. I really feel like that's the main thing I'm supposed to be learning (or relearning) through this time. It's so hard to do, for some reason!

Stacey--thanks for resonating. And for the wise words about love and finances. Indeed. Finances are factoring in rather heavily these days . . . Especial thanks for the prayer.

Christianne--thanks for sympathising, too. I'm familiar with the "practical atheism" thing. I don't THINK that's what this is in this particular case. I think it's that I'm trying so HARD to figure out what exactly God's communicating to me (because I do believe He's saying something) and I want so much to do whatever it is He's telling me . . . but when I think I've heard it, circumstances are turning right back on me so that I have to wonder if my first "hearing" was completely wrong and I should try something else, or if it was right . . . in which case I have no clue what to do next because there's no moving from here at this point.

Jenn said...

Also, Scott, thanks for your example of faithfulness in your job. That's really inspiring.

Heather said...

I've posted on this very thing before. I changed plans to go into music full time because I felt God calling me to ministry. After seminary and plans to go overseas, I changed plans again.
Do I blame too much on God's call? I don't regret any of those past decisions or where I thought I was going to go--it just led me somewhere else (and I still get to use that training, just for different purposes or in different ways).
I know God has called me to love Him and love my neighbor. I struggle with the specifics. Does He always call us to specifics? Or does He sometimes call us to specifics and sometimes give us freedom: hey, as long as you glorify Me, pick whichever career, and I'll use it.
I don't know.

Annelise said...

I think Heather is on to something...

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