In September, I saw a job posting. It was an on-line application as most are these days. I have gotten used to filling out these forms and never hearing from a real-live human being from “Human” Resources. It seems as though your resume goes into some kind of “cosmic Shredder”…
To my delight, I had a first round interview. And then a second. And then an on-site tour and interview (which took most of a day.) And finally, I was invited back to preach during Advent.
I felt a stir of hope… Maybe this would be the job. It combined all of my experience and education in healthcare, music, worship, pastoral care and chaplaincy. It was a short commute from our home. And it was an opportunity to live out my Call with like-minded coworkers. I felt welcomed, affirmed and wanted. I knew that I had represented myself well as the person God made me to be.
And the job went to someone else.
In the middle of Christmas shopping with my daughters, I got a phone call… “While we found you to be highly qualified and skilled…. We listened to the feedback of the staff and residents who experienced you. We went with the other candidate because it was a better fit.”
Fortunately I was sitting down. My heart began to race. I felt hurt and blindsided. Hot tears welled up in my eyes, which I quickly squelched so as not to spoil our shopping trip. How could I have thought it was going so well when it obviously was not? What in hell did I miss?
I texted my husband and family and a few close friends. “No… I didn’t get the job…” I put my phone on silent and went back to shopping. I kept it together (barely) until the drive home, as tears began to leak and my cheeks were wet with angry tears.
What the hell does “a better fit” mean? I felt like a personality reject. Like I was the Susan Lucci of chaplaincy job searchers. Passed over once again. It seemed as though I was living in a sitcom dating relationship that went sour. “It’s not you, it’s us…”
In the days since that phone call (two days before Christmas? Nice…) I’ve had a chance to get some perspective. I know what I do and can offer an organization. This one just wasn’t meant to be. Whether it was personal, political or theological, it really doesn’t matter.
One kind person said, “Oh, I thank God that you were steered around an obstacle to your best self.”
Pardon me while I pay our cat to puke in your shoes…
And seriously, no thanks to the well-meaning individual who sent me the link to “When You Don’t Get That Job: 10 Things You Probably Did Wrong.”
The truth is, I didn’t do anything wrong. Was I perfect? No, but nothing disastrous happened as referenced in the article. This wasn’t an issue of competence or interview skills. In pastoral positions, it’s more about “the Call.”
The Calling has to be mutual. Both sides need to sense this “holy pull”. “They” have to be as excited about my joining their community as I am about working with them. I have been in situations where I desperately tried to make myself fit. I’m done with that. I know who I am, strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. I also know that my career path has been full of jigs and jags, but not once has God led me astray, especially when I pray with a yielded, willing heart, “Lord, put me where YOU want me.”
So I am living in the “yes” and) the “no.” I’ve sat with my Spiritual Director, prayed, listened and prayed some more. I’ve gotten the counsel of wise folks, and absorbed their comments. It has not been easy. But it has been a necessary task.
I’m confident that this work, Pastoral Care, Chaplaincy, Community Pastor, Hospice, Palliative Care (whatever you want to label it) is my life’s “yes.” I’ve wrestled that through, and even with this “no” I know that I am indeed on the right path. I’m persevering.
Because, you see, even Susan Lucci got her Emmy after years of being passed over. My time, at God’s time, will come.
Thanks be to God.