Thursday, August 23, 2012

What I Needed (And What I Wanted)

I have returned.

To college.

To the blogging world (anyone miss me?? Hahaha).

To work.

I'm getting back to my favorite routine. Classes start next week. The big chunk of students gets back this weekend. Studying will start soon (well... it kind of already has). Life will pick up at the high-speed pace college gives it. I am slowly but surely becoming reunited with friends I have not seen for four months. And I have a job.

Some of you may remember a post I wrote closer to the beginning of the summer about wants and needs. Since that time, I got e-mail after e-mail vaguely detailing what was going on, finally got paperwork, and sent it off.

Then there was the waiting.

Ooooh the waiting.

Anyone who knows me well can tell you about my stubborn streak that never seems to end and my subtle but fire-y temper. But anyone who spends an afternoon with me will probably be able to tell you about my lack of patience. My get it done now attitude. In some ways, it's a good thing. I get stuff done. But in other ways, it's definitely a sin problem that God has been mercifully (but firmly) teaching me through. I am constantly going. My mind whirring, looking for the next thing to do. Being bored is not an option. When I have nothing to do, I find something to worry about and fixate on it. Not good. I am legendary in the way I drive people crazy over this.

Once again... not good.

This summer God used my work situation and other situations to show me just how wrong my impatience can be when applied to situations I have no control over.

I constantly worried about work. And God taught me a lesson through that.

When I was waiting on my application paperwork, it was still unknown whether or not I would even receive the paperwork. I knew down to the day when it was supposed to get to me.

Or so I thought.

On the evening of the day I thought I was supposed to receive my application, it had not arrived. I sat up in my bedroom, sulking. Poking around on my computer trying to get my mind off not having a job. But God has a (wonderful) way of stepping in and joining one's thoughts. Reminders kept coming into my mind.

Rose, aren't I in control? Don't I know exactly what you'll be doing next semester? Don't I know your needs?

And it was then that I let my stubbornness slip away. I won't lie, it was not easy. Because my instinct is to worry, and whine, and panic. But as I have learned on many occasions, as a born sinner, my instinct--my automatic response to anything in life--is wrong. And I must (through the work of God) change how I respond to anything in life.

And I chose to do that. That night, I gave everything over to God. I told Him I would be happy with or without a job. Because in the great, grand scheme of things, I don't need anything but my Savior. And I already have Him. As far as earthly needs go, God has promised in His word to supply every single one (Philippians 4:19).

The next day I got a wonderful surprise. As I jumped into my mom's car when she picked me up from work, I spotted a large envelope on the dashboard. I picked it up, and there it was: my paperwork. I practically came out of my skin with excitement.

God knew even before I prayed that my paperwork was on its way. He knew that I would have the job. He knew what I didn't know. He simply asked for my patience and my trust. And receiving my paperwork the day after I "gave in" and chose to trust Him was one of the most wonderful feelings. Yes, my paperwork was coming regardless. But the victory was so much sweeter knowing it came straight from the hands of God--who I had chosen to trust completely.

Weeks went by, the paperwork was filled out and sent off and I had to wait... again. The day I was supposed to get a formal job offer came and went. I started to panic again. And I will admit, really struggled to completely trust God. During those last few weeks, I had done a bit of figuring and had realized that this job was not just a want--it was a definite need. I began to question God. Wonder why He would leave me in the cold like that. He knew I needed a job, so why didn't He deliver?? Isn't that what the verse in Philippians said???

But there's more to that verse than just "God will give you everything you need." In a way, this verse is one of those verses that people take out of context as a "magic solution verse." In context, this verse comes at the end of Philippians 4. Paul is thanking the Philippians for their generous care for him (being that Paul was a missionary, I tend to think theirs was a monetary gift). He uses this as a way to encourage the Philippians. He reminds them that whatever state they are in, they need to be content. He also reminds them that while God will supply their needs, the way He does it will be for His glory.

Unfortunately, that last paragraph is a good reminder that hindsight is 20/20. Because while I constantly prayed for the ability to trust God, I often caught myself not really trying at all.

Because a Facebook conversation and an e-mail later... I found out I most definitely had the job. And I'll admit, I felt pretty silly for worrying. It's times like these that I wonder what God is thinking when His children are once again humbled by the reminder that yes, He is still good and He is still in control. And that there was no chance He had ever left us out in the cold.

And it's times like these that I find myself even more thankful for God's patience with His children. The way He brushes us off after every time we fall--even if we were going directly against Him.

And God supplied my need. For His glory.

And I returned to school early. And arrived at training, knowing I was retail division, knowing I'd probably be working at my "second-choice job." Because while my need had been fulfilled, I still had wants.

Isn't that how we always are?

Hey God, I know you're making sure all my needs and stuff are taken care, and I don't really need such-and-such, but you know, you're big and awesome and stuff. Can't I just have that too?

All the time.

God, I'd really like so-and-so to like me. Can I have this person on my hall? Why does she have to be in my room this year? Artist Series is coming up, I want that guy to ask me. Oh, and could you just suddenly transform the way my body works so I can be skinny now? Yeah, that'd be great.

I know that sounded silly. But in a way, that's kind of what we sound like sometimes. Acting as if God is some sort of magic genie who has given us unlimited wishes that will be granted instantly. In truth, we need a lot less than we think we need. Now, I'm not saying God doesn't like giving us stuff we merely want, but what is our attitude when we ask for these things?

Because something I really wanted was to work in the coffee shop. To be honest, while the Snack Shop was nice, I wasn't thrilled. I've always [wanted] to try being a barista (this is seriously a bucket list thing for me). The coffee shop on my college campus was a perfect opportunity! Right? Well, if that's where God wanted me. And I battled with that too. I really, really wanted to be in the coffee shop. But what if God had something for me in the Snack Shop where He wanted to use me for His kingdom? What if there was something He wanted me to do for Him there?

And so the morning of orientation, I prayed. I admitted to God (well, He obviously already knew all this, but there's something to be said about saying something yourself) that I really, really, really, really wanted to work in the coffee shop. But I knew that He might have something else planned. And so that morning, I gave it up to Him. I told Him wherever He placed me, I would be happy (but, um, I really really would like Cuppa Jones. If that's okay).

I wonder if God ever thinks, "silly girl" when I'm debating between my wants and needs when I'm talking to Him. In a way of, oh, Rose, you will see what I have for you soon enough. Just relax and enjoy the ride. Don't stress, I've got this.

By that afternoon, I had learned that there were openings in Cuppa Jones and 24 hours later, I had my work hours scheduled. Exactly where I wanted to be.

I don't believe in the Prosperity Gospel. There are a lot of holes in that way of thinking. We are not always going to get what we want and life is not always going to be rainbows and sunshine and ponies. But I do believe God delights in delighting His children with certain things in life that they may not necessarily need, but do want. We will always be supplied with our needs. We will not always get what we want. I firmly believe that makes when we do get something we merely that much sweeter. Those times when we do get we want are God's way of saying I love you and love seeing you happy. What you want is not always best for you. But sometimes it is, and I love seeing the joy that comes to your face when you get it. 

God is not some grouchy old man that begrudgingly hands us what we need and doesn't ever think about our wants. He knows the wants are what make life that much more enjoyable.  Don't expect every little thing you want to be handed to you, though. That's not how He works. He gives, He takes away.

And whether He has given you something recently or taken something away, please never forget to praise God. He has a reason for everything He does. Wait patiently on Him and He will give you an unexpected (but wonderful) end.

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