I flew home from Haiti on August 25th. The next day, I decided to work out at home and go for a run instead of going to town to the fitness center. I knew if I went to town, I would run into a million people and everyone would ask about Haiti. I love to talk about Haiti and am always willing to share, but I knew I just needed to process things first- so what better way than going for a run (at least for me; I know not everyone would agree ☺). As I was running, I prayed, “Lord, this is the first day of I have absolutely no idea what’s next. I’m not scared because You have proven Yourself to me over and over again. I know You have a plan, and I trust that. ‘So here am I, all of me. Take my life; it’s all for Thee,’” (Lyrics from “Take My Life”).
The 25th was a Wednesday so I gave myself until the following Monday to relax before starting the joyous job search. When Monday rolled around, I knew I needed to treat searching for a job like it was my job- so from 8-4:30, Monday through Friday, I spent my time at the table in front of my computer. (The joy of it not being a real job was that I was able to hang out in my favorite red, plaid, flannel boxer shorts all day.) This was the life I lived for the next month- productive, yet not seemingly. I wanted to find a job in the area where I could be an athletic trainer so I could put into practice what I’d spent the last four years learning. I quickly realized, though, that I would likely have to choose between finding a job doing anything so I could stay in the area, or be willing to go anywhere to find an athletic training job. I was open.
There were days where, well, I’ll be honest, I was bitter. I was bored and couldn’t stand having no one around all day while I just sat in front of a computer. To me, being at home this time was different. I wasn’t there for 3 weeks over Christmas, or even 3 months during the summer before school would start. Northwestern had already resumed its classes and I wasn’t there. My friends from college were working real jobs and getting married. The reality of, “I’ve entered the real world,” was finally hitting. I had no idea if I’d be living at home for a month or a year. I had no idea how long I would be jobless. Do I unpack all of my stuff and really move back in, or only what I need so when I do move out, it won’t be so difficult? Josh was living at home too, but he had a job, and at least he could buy his own groceries and not worry about how he was going to fill his gas tank. My family would get home from work and ask me how my day was, and with bitterness I’d say, “Oh ya know. Another 8 hours in front of my computer with no social interaction.” I’m sure I got a little lecture from my dad one night. But it was good. It slapped me to my senses a little as I thought to myself, “Really, Sarah? How many people in this country have been unemployed for months now due to the economy, and you’ve been at this for how many weeks? For goodness sake, girl! Where did you just come from?!?! You spent 3 months in a country where people are living in tents, not knowing where or when their next meal will come, and you are complaining because you have a beautiful roof over your head, plenty of food to eat, surrounded by people that love and care about you?!?!?! Shut up, be thankful, and count your blessings!”
So I did make a conscious effort to be thankful every day, but it was hard. Not because I wasn’t grateful; I was. Mom told me one day, “Sarah, we know the job economy is rough right now. It’s not easy to find a job, but you’re trying and we know that. You just spent the whole summer in Haiti doing wonderful things, so until you find a job, we’re here for you. There’s food for you to eat; we’re not going to just throw you out on the street.” I knew that; I expected that because of the amazing, loving parents that I have. And so, I was grateful, but I was learning something about myself that was hard. God was teaching me a lesson on humility, to a degree I’ve never before experienced. I was reminded that I LOVE to serve, to give, to help, to encourage, to interact. I was also realizing that I was more independent than I knew. However, it’s hard for me to receive. I don’t like that end of it. I don’t know, maybe it’s because when I get to give, I know I’m honoring God and He is pleased. But when I have to ask for help because I can’t do it on my own, and this time, from more than just God but from other humans, does that bring Him honor to? Can I worship Him by receiving? Well, I knew I couldn’t worship Him by receiving with a bad attitude, and so that needed to change.
I had heard before that it’s better to give than to receive, but in order for someone to give, someone must also receive. I knew that was true, and so this time, I was having to learn to be the receiver instead of the giver. But a friend pointed out to me, that maybe in all of this, not only was I learning how to receive, but also how difficult it must be for other people who have to receive. I had never thought about that before. Whenever I give, even if the receiver says, “I can’t take that; it’s too much,” it would make me feel all the more blessed because I sincerely wanted to and could give it all. But now I realize that when you give, you have to be sensitive to the receiver because sometimes, it is nice to receive, and it is a blessing, but I think many of us deal with pride issues and wanting to be self-sufficient, like I was. We don’t want people’s hand-outs. We want to be able to take care of the obstacles in our way and be that giver, humbly and quietly, but we are unable. And so, we must receive.
Jesus tells us to pray for others, but aren’t we also told to ask for prayer for ourselves too? “13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” James5:13-16.
[On September 25th, one month after returning from Haiti, I accepted a job in Orlando, FL and moved there one week later.]