Playing on the Same Human Team

baseball game I wanted that job. I had been planning, preparing, and thinking about it for more than six months. Everything aligned, so it seemed. But. I. Didn’t. Get. It.

I had prayed about it, and it seemed as if it was God’s will. But. Then. It. Wasn’t. Someone with more experience and better credentials came into the process and took that job. Rather, the administration gave her that job because she was good (like me), plus she had the experience and credentials the college needed for its accreditation requirements.

Because of my disappointment, I needed to make sure that this new colleague really deserved my job, so I “creeped” on her. For those who aren’t familiar with “creeping,” that is checking out a person in an online Google search. I saw impressive credentials (that I already knew), but I also saw tweets about God and God’s goodness and faithfulness. My new colleague, my nemesis, probably also prayed for this job like I did. God said yes to her but no to me.

Some years ago, I might have thought that I didn’t get this job because a) I didn’t tithe consistently, b) I didn’t attend church regularly, c) I wasn’t spending enough time in the spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study, or d) I had some sort of unconfessed sin that prevented God from blessing me. These reasons (which may or may not be true) would make not getting the job my “fault.” This is based on a religion that uses guilt and/or fear to spur Christians to “do more for God,” yet when one looks at the outcome of such a response, it’s clear that what actually happens is that our relationship with God becomes a transaction. If I do this for you, God, you must give me that job. Entire ministries have been built on false premises like this one because the goodness of God lavishes blessings on humanity, making it appear like such a formula really works.

In this instance, though, I am thankfully not caught up in the transactional mindset. But I still wondered why the job didn’t work out until I came to the realization that asking why isn’t that helpful. Asking why is challenging reality as it is, and while I might learn something about better interviewing or better teaching demos, in this case, it seems my lack of credentials was the deciding factor. Asking why became an exercise in challenging the bigger life choices I made years ago, such as staying home with my children for sixteen years rather than pursuing a PhD. This helped me see that asking why rarely provides a satisfying answer.

So at this point, you are probably saying, “Nan, tell me the right approach when I’m faced with a situation that didn’t turn out like I hoped or expected,” and I’ll tell you this, dear reader: I don’t know. My new colleague received the blessing of a new job, and despite my best efforts, I did not. She probably prayed, I definitely prayed, and from the looks of the situation, we play on the same team and pray to the same God. Maybe you’re faced with a more serious issue, and I wish I could tell you for sure that it will turn out OK. In fact, I want more than anything to tell you that everything will turn out as you’re hoping and praying. But I can do something better than that.

I can tell you definitively that you will be OK regardless of how your situation turns out. In the midst of your grief and disappointment, you will know that you are held, that resisting the grief and disappointment only perpetuates them, and that grace is always present and abundant.

Christian mystic, philosopher, and author Simone Weil has an interesting way of putting it:

            “All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.” (Gravity and Grace)

I wanted a job, but another child of God landed the job. When we pray for our troops to win a battle, others are also praying for their army to win. When Ohio State’s football team plays University of Michigan, some will be praying for the Buckeyes and others will be praying equally fervently for the Wolverines. Some hope Trump will win the election; others hope Hillary will win. Some will win in these contests who don’t bother to pray at all, and some will lose who do pray. But grace will be there to fill the void, that we can count on.

~by Nan Kuhlman





1 comment so far

  1. […] Bible lesson: Playing on the Same Human Team By Nan […]

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