“I was so desperate to hear from the Lord. You have to tell me what to do?”
Erin is an Underwriter in the commercial insurance industry. She graduated from Texas A&M in 2011. Fun fact about Erin, during college, she created a popular food blog that reviewed the local restaurants in town. With a group of friends, she collected those reviews in a self-published magazine that sold over 10,000 copies in 6-weeks.
I grew up in a “real place,” as one of my professors aptly summed up after I described to him my hometown. I grew up in West Texas, in an oil patch town of about ten thousand people, where wildfires were common and people killed rattlesnakes with shotguns. The town had one grocery store and one set of schools. Everyone went to the same churches, and all the kids attended the same schools. It was a geographically isolated place, and because of that, there were deep bonds between the people. Without question, the land becomes a part of who you are. I saw people’s fortunes rise with the flow of oil.
Because of the physical remoteness of my childhood home, we didn’t have a lot of extended family close by. As such, my nuclear family is very close to each other; my parents and my siblings are my relational anchors. My happiest memories to date are of my siblings’ weddings and my parents’ 30th anniversary. I am so excited that we are all living in the same city again.
As much as I enjoyed my childhood, it was a lonely time since there weren’t many people my age. I couldn’t wait for college, and I loved the four years I spent at A&M. There were so many opportunities to learn and explore. My senior year, I was filled to the brim with hopes, dreams, and expectations. I had bought into the message that upon graduation, the world would be my oyster.
Unfortunately, the economy in 2011 was not ideal for a new graduate. The country was deep in recession, and mass layoffs were announced all across the state. Competition for employment was high. The consensus among my friends was, if you got one job offer, you were lucky, and you took it.
I didn’t get a job before graduation, so I moved home. For the first time in my life, I had no idea what to do. I was lost and scared. My parents were supportive, and they helped me find a temporary position with an insurance agency in Austin. Long story short, that temporary position turned out to be a difficult role; but from that experience, I found my passion for the insurance industry.
While working in the temporary position, I continued my job search. It took a while, but I finally found a permanent job and moved. My first year in Dallas was not easy. The job that I was so excited about, that I waited so long for, turned out to be utterly miserable. The company didn’t follow through on a lot of their promises, and I felt like I was living one disappointment after another.
Many people told me to quit and find something else. But I knew for about year and a half that I was not supposed to leave. One weekend, I attended a Pink Impact event. I was desperate to hear from the Lord. I prayed: Lord, you have to tell me what to do? Am I suppose to stay in this job or am I suppose to leave? Whatever you tell me I am going to cling to it. I am not going to be picky.
What the Lord said to me that weekend was: I am not going to tell you whether to stay or to go. I am going to tell you what I want you to do on Monday. And on Monday, I want you to change your attitude. I want you to change the way you think about work, your co-workers, and your circumstances.
During that time, I listened to a Joyce Meyer podcast, and in that podcast, she spoke about the Israelites entering the promised land from Egypt; how that could have been an 11-day journey, but because of their attitude they had to stay in the desert for 40 years. I thought to myself: I could be on an 11-day journey or a 40-year journey. So on that day, I decided to change my attitude. I knew I’ve heard from the Lord, and I was going to do what He said.
Come Monday, I went to work with a new outlook and a different level of humility. I understood that I was there to serve and not there to build my kingdom. I saw that I had a great opportunity to learn about business, about others, and about myself. It was a transformational moment.
About a month after Pink Impact, one of my co-workers passed away unexpectedly. In many ways, he represented the glimmer of hope for me in that job; he taught me and advocated for me. And about a month after his passing, I knew the Lord had released me from that job, and it was time to go. I wasn’t going to quit until I had another job, but it was time to start looking. And in that week, I got four phone calls from different companies asking if I wanted to interview with them. I had two job offers shortly after. The position I am in now could not have been possible until that point in time.
That experience taught me the significance of waiting on the Lord and waiting until he said it was time to go. If I had acted sooner (or later) I would have missed my opportunity, and my current role has been a huge blessing. I love my job and the people I work with. For a year and a half, I didn’t understand why God had me in that situation. In hindsight, I see the wisdom of his timing. The first two jobs I had out of college were so challenging and hard that I would never trade them for anything because of the perspective they offered me.
If anyone is in a difficult job situation, I want them to know God loves you! I know in the hard times when your circumstances don’t reflect that truth, it can be hard to believe. But it is possible to get to a place where you are so rooted in God’s love that no matter what happens, you know it is true.
It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day and focus only on what is wrong. It’s human to ask God: what is your plan for me? But what I’ve learned is that I don’t need to know what is God’s grand plan. I don’t need to know what the cumulative effect of my decisions will be 50 years from now. I just need to know, am I where I need to be today? Think about Abraham, he never saw the splendor God had promised his descendants. But that doesn’t mean the Lord didn’t fulfill his promise. We may never see the fruit of what God is doing.
I try not to get caught up asking: what is my calling? So much of what carried me through the hard moments when I didn’t like my job was knowing the Lord had me exactly where I was supposed to be. The Lord has something he wants to teach us in every season. Sometimes I talk to friends who hate their jobs. They change jobs, and they still hate their jobs. You are going to hate your job until you realize what it is the Lord is doing for you there, and what the Lord wants you to learn. How long will it take you to learn the lesson the Lord has for you? Because you are going to keep learning that lesson until you get it. Will it be an 11-day journey or a 40-year journey? It is your choice, you get to decide.