He interviewed for a job today. An interview we thought about turning down. Because the salary turned out to be much lower than the advertised amount.
But how do you turn down what you need? So we crunched the numbers, and surprise, surprise, realized we could live on less than we thought. We could settle for this if an offer comes of it.
But is settling and surviving what God has for us? Is that his grand plan? The one that everyone keeps telling us to wait for?
People seem quite sure that God has a plan for us, and every little thing that happens is part of it. And we just need to ‘pray for favor’, ‘trust his leading’, ‘wait on him’. Maybe it’s just the open theist in me talking, but I’m not so convinced.
Why must people spout verses and clichés instead of actual wisdom? If someone was oh, say, looking for a job 700 miles away and they weren’t a Christian, how would you advise them or commiserate with them? Why can’t we do that with other Christians?
When people say they want God’s will for us, and that they aren’t ‘praying against us’, does that mean He only wants us either in MI or VA? And that if we don’t get a job, it’s because he wants us to stay here? Is the fact that we are 7 months into this process proof that it’s not his will? Or are we still just waiting on ‘God’s perfect timing’? Why do people’s folk theology make me feel like we’re just pawns in a massive game of Monopoly?
What exactly is the end goal of trusting ‘God’s plan’? Is it success as our culture determines it? Is it a good salary, big house, lots of land? Is that what people mean when they say ‘God will provide’? That He ‘has something better’ for us?
I grew up poor. We both did. And as much as I don’t want to be rich…………..I kind of want to be rich. I want to live a comfortable life, so then I can sacrifice a few of those comforts, you know, to show my solidarity.
I was looking up places to rent, trying to figure out the cost of living if we happened to get a job offer. I kept seeing houses and apartments saying they accepted Section 8 applicants. I finally looked it up, because what’s so special about Sec. 8?
Do I want to live there? I don’t know. Isn’t that awful of me? Why do I think thriving can’t happen in HUD housing?
Is taking a lower salary or living in Sec. 8 housing ever an option for middle-class people when they talk about God’s plan?
Or is that sort of thing only for those who are ‘called’ to poverty?
It’s funny, the looks I get when I tell people we want to move to Virginia. There is no other reason really, than we want to. It seems to genuinely befuddle people. But I know that if I said ‘God is calling us’, they would nod their head and there would be no more questions.
It feels like it must be a foreign language for certain Christians to give advice or make large decisions based on anything other than Bible verses.
I know Jesus was not the most efficient person. So maybe our advice should be laced with impracticality and a hint of audacious hope. But he also affected people’s lives, outside of salvation. Shouldn’t our words be similarly helpful? If Christianity is about being incarnational, shouldn’t our advice be also?
People act like if you are following God, it will be all peace, all the time. ‘Let go and let God’ is not helpful when I’m feeling all the feelings.
Is it possible that acknowledging the massive stress and emotional upheaval this process is taking on us just makes us human? I don’t know that being a hot mess all summer automatically means we must be ‘out of God’s will’.
The advice offered by Christians seems to encourage passivity. And I just don’t see that reflected in Jesus.
If I was just supposed to be sitting around waiting on divine will and timing, then would I have ever combed Facebook, searching out any connection at all to the cities we want to move to? Would I have messaged a complete stranger (with whom I have 21 friends in common, but still…) at midnight asking if he knows of any civil engineers? (Also, said stranger is awesome and messaged me back right away.) If I was just waiting for heavenly pixie dust, then the 5 people who saw his resume and the ensuing 2 job applications because of that message wouldn’t have happened.
It feels arrogant to think that God is going to swoop down and fix things for me just because ‘He’s the Provider’. Lots of people are stuck living much shittier lives than me, and I don’t see any divine swooping going on. Is that part of the plan?
I take it for granted that because my husband is white, young, has a college degree in a field that needs people, that eventually he’ll land a job somewhere. And so if it does happen, is it because it was God’s plan or because we capitalized on our privilege?
I’m starting to wonder, more and more, if my definition of thriving is more influenced by the culture I’m in than by what God desires.
Because when we talk about thriving or surviving, aren’t we really asking about living well? And what does it mean to just ‘follow God’, when you are worn and beat down, and thriving feels like a fairy tale? How do we live well when we feel so unwell?
I think we instinctively know God wants good for us. Maybe we’re just confused as to what good is. Or misjudge under what contexts it can appear. Can living well only happen under certain conditions? Namely, middle-class suburban ones? Maybe choosing to ‘settle’ for less than society says we need is really just about deciding to live with enough.
I have hope that moving will lead to a renewed flourishing for our family. But ultimately it isn’t about where we live or how much money we make. It isn’t even about whether or not I can divine the mystery of God’s ways. Ultimately, for me, it’s about Emmanuel. In the going or the staying, the seeking or the abiding, the only thing I know for sure is that God is there.
But is that enough for me? I don’t know. Sometimes it is as hard to cling to Presence as it is to listen to pithy theology. And sometimes, I need reminding of what God’s plan really is all about:
“We all need to live our lives in ways that ensure that others may live well. Our flourishing should enhance the lives of others, not detract from them.” - Desmond Tutu