What I Learned From the Unemployment Office

Yesterday I applied for unemployment.  After four months of searching for a job with little positive feedback, I decided it was time.  Actually, I knew it was ‘time’ several weeks ago, but I dragged my feet hoping for a miracle.  So when no miracle came, I begrudgingly set out to apply.

I had tears in my eyes as I searched google for ‘Tennessee Unemployment’.  I felt angry that this was on my agenda for the day: I am an educated, hard-working woman who should have a job.  I felt defeated like this was the final straw:  I’m never going to get a job.  I felt ashamed: I’m having to use the very same public service system that many of my past clients have used.

Oooh, and there it was.  These emotions were all stemming from my pride.

After taking countless classes and workshops that preached non-judgementalism, after years of working with unique individuals, after submitting numerous cover letters claiming I have a strength-based open approach to working with people, there it was.  I have deep compassion, mercy, and empathy for the clients with whom I have worked.  I have fought long hours and difficult battles for justice and equality.  But I have done that all while feeling like I was just a little different, just a little better.

A little more polished.

A little more educated.

A little more worthy.

Wow!  I hope no potential employers are reading this because it’s ugly.  Pride is ugly!  It’s interesting to me that although my self-esteem has taken a dive through this job search process, my pride apparently hasn’t.

So needless to say, I have a lot to think about and pray about.  I have some things that I need God to root out of me.

As usual, when God points out ways in which I am doing a poor job at loving people (which sadly is often), I refer back to Amy Carmichael’s small but poignant book, “If” and I came across this line that sums it up:

“If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

So today, I’m going back to the cross and reflecting on all the good gifts that I have received.  Yes, even though I am unemployed and *homeless, I have been given so many gifts.  I’m also going back to the cross and reflecting on Christ’s love; His sacrificial, humble love.  His love sometimes feels like tough love.  This week, His [tough] love let me apply for unemployment so that I could learn to love others better, more purely, less self-righteously.

How has Christ’s love affected you this week?


*I’m not really homeless, I was just feeling dramatic.  My husband and I are living with my sister and brother in law and while we don’t have our own place at the moment, we are living quite well.

4 thoughts on “What I Learned From the Unemployment Office

  1. After college, I took a job for about three months leasing apartments. Mostly I hated it. When I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, we moved back to the town where I grew up. I looked for a job for about three months. I must say, it was one of the most difficult seasons of my life. It got to the point where I couldn’t even muster up the words to say to someone trying to hire me–the self-doubt and insecurity were that pervasive. “Why should you hire me? Well, you know..um…I think I’m intelligent and friendly..at least I used to be.. my friends say that I am.” That sort of thing. Then it finally hit me like a ton of bricks–my identity is not found in the fact that I’m capable or special or efficient or intelligent or any of those things. My identity is based in Christ alone. Apart from him, I can derive no qualities–they all flow from him. It took me getting to that point of forgetting who I was..feeling so low..to realize that I’d placed my identity with my ‘excellence’ in this world and not in Him. It changed everything for me. I still cherish that hard-learned lesson to this day. I ended up finding a job (which of course you will too) that I’ve since left…and had a few more since then. But the lesson learned about where my true identity lies has stayed with me since those dark days. As someone who’s smart, funny, organized, compassionate–all those wonderful qualities–you will find the RIGHT position for you in due time (you know that of course). In the meantime, I have a feeling God is doing this cosmic shift in your soul that will end up a treasured memory in the years to come. And, by the way, I look at resumes and help people find jobs for a living. I don’t recruit in your area but would be more than happy to take a look at your resume and give some tips if you’d like them. Email hcottrill@centrifugerecruiting.com. All the best, Hannah

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Hannah. In the midst of dark situations, it’s so helpful to hear how God worked in others’ lives when they were in similar dark places. You are so dead on with where I find my identity! God’s been working on that with me, as well. Your story was an encouragement to me today. (And I’m about to send you an email with my resume).

  2. I’m still thinking about you and your job situation. I know it’s got to be really frustrating. Isn’t it amazing how when we start recognizing pride we find it cropping up everywhere? At least, that’s what I find. Miss you Allie!

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