Employed (at last).

Warning: this is a long one. If you want to skip to the very end, that is where you will find more details about my actual job, rather than the entire amazingly miraculous process that led me to the point of getting hired, which I apparently felt the need to describe in excruciating detail.

As a follow up to my last post in which I desperately sought pre-interview facial piercing advice (and only two of you responded...thanks a lot guys), I figured I would share the results of said interview, as well as my final decision on the nose-ring debacle.

Most of you already know this because I freaking BLEW UP Facebook and Instragram with my news* but, as always, for the handful of you I'm not connected to through other social media outlets (hiiiiii Grandma!):

I GOT THE JOB! 
(^) This is the face of the new Intake Specialist for a local ministry for women and children. Nose ring and all.**
I am completely overjoyed (and also slightly overwhelmed) by the way God has pulled all of this together. For those of you who have been following my unemployment journey, you know that I have been feeling for quite some time now that He was preparing me for something big. In December, I asked for prayer that I might have both the courage and the humility to accept whatever that calling turned out to be. At the time, I had no clue just how crucial both parts would be to this process. In February, I lamented over the fact that my heart yearned to work in ministry, but I just couldn't seem to find any (paid) positions that were right for me.

I spent countless hours searching ministry websites, meeting with missionaries (and pretty much anyone else who was willing to sit across from me and let me verbally process the 1349102414 different thoughts swirling around in my head), and laying nose-down on the floor in my attempt to humble myself as completely as possible...just begging God for wisdom. Direction. Something.

I went out on a limb and contacted the Director of Outreach at my church to see if she was willing to be yet another sounding board for my heart, and she asked me what it is about ministry that was so appealing to me.

I shared with her the disconnect my heart felt between my previous professional experiences within social services and my passion for the Gospel. I talked about my realization that - while I loved connecting with individuals and hearing their stories - a natural consequence of this process (and my bleeding empathic heart) was that I also felt the weight of their pain. I would sit there, temporarily holding these heartbreaks, all the while reflecting on the Truth: I knew of Someone much bigger and more powerful than all of their hurting who could completely shoulder these burdens and bring them to full freedom through His love....but my professional position prohibited me from sharing this message. Instead, I offered the tools my education and training equipped me with to help them "manage" their problems and enter back into a place of surviving. Meanwhile, my heart longed to offer them the hope of fully thriving in Christ.

When I finished my little monologue, she surprised me by saying, "I think I have the perfect position for you." And just like that, after months of waiting, searching, cover letters and applications: I finally had a glimmer of hope.

It all came together pretty quickly from there. I received an email from the Program Manager informing me she had received my resume and wondering if I might be interested in a position. She attached a job description that made my heart swoon. I applied right away, despite the fact I was sitting in my car in the driveway of my sister's house, using her free wi-fi because I couldn't stand being in yet another coffee shop for even one more minute, but couldn't go into the house either because the twins are far too big of a distraction adorable.
Office on the go?  This is literally what my life looked like as I applied for my current job.
A few days later, I received another email from the same woman scheduling a phone interview, which I also conducted from my "driveway office." This was unlike any other interview I've ever done in my life. I was completely thrown when rather than asking typical interview questions about my strengths/weaknesses, she instead asked about my personal faith journey and a time I had brought someone to the Lord. Toto, we're not in the public sector anymore.

At the end of our conversation, I was fairly certain I had blown it. Not only are phone interviews incredibly awkward, but we both acknowledged I am unqualified for the position. 

Therefore, I was shocked when, rather than receiving the rejection phone call I had expected, I found myself walking into the lobby of what is now my new place of employment for a second (in-person) interview. I was instantly comforted by the fireplace, cozy arm chairs, and walls lined with books and vibrant artwork. My interviewers directed me into a conference room that should have been intimidating, but then alleviated all my nerves and concerns when they offered to pray for me before we began (is this real life??).

In contrast to my awkward phone interview, I walked away from this one feeling fairly confident that I had at least presented an authentic version of myself. Even though I still didn't possess the skills or experience the position required, I prayed they might see my heart for ministry above all else. Sure enough, there was an email already waiting in my inbox by the time I drove home requesting I come in the very next day to "talk further."

And so, on Wednesday at 1:00pm I found myself sitting in my new supervisor's office as she explained to me how she had reviewed somewhere around 70 applications and interviewed several individuals who were just like me: straight out of grad school with hardly any job experience (outside of internships). She clarified that I had absolutely no more experience than any of them...that I was not at all what she had been looking for...and yet there was just something about me that seemed right. She felt confident that I could do this job; that I could be a powerhouse of support and encouragement for hurting women and that I knew how to integrate the clinical with Christ.

Which is amazing because I had been saying pretty much the exact same thing to my friends and family about this job. It's not at all a population I ever dreamed of working with, and it's an area of social work in which I have very little knowledge or experience. And yet, there was something about it that just seemed so very right. I truly believe, after months and months of searching, this position found me.

SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES THE "INTAKE SPECIALIST" DO?

My new job is to meet with women who desire to begin their journey to recovery from substance abuse. I listen to their stories and determine whether or not I believe they would be a good fit for our program. For those women who are selected, I am also the case-manager and primary source of support during their first six weeks in the program. I am by their side as "the fog lifts" and they begin the process of detoxification and facing life without the numbing effects of substances, often for the first time in years. My role is to pray with them, listen to them, encourage them, and connect them: with other women in the program, with their own sources of strength and resilience, and with a Savior who loves and pursues them fiercely and longs to give them grace, mercy, and peace which transcends all understanding. I will also be doing other things to help facilitate their introduction to recovery, including teaching an "Intro to the Bible" course, as well as completing an obscene amount of paperwork (such is the life of a social worker).

It won't be easy. I have a tremendous learning curve ahead of me. I know that my heart is going to be shattered into a million trillion tiny pieces time and time again and I am going to come face to face with a kind of pain and brokenness I've never seen before. And yet, I finally get to infuse that pain and brokenness with HOPE. 

My prayers have been answered. Not in any way I ever could have predicted, but isn't that just like my God?

*God bless social media for enabling me to make my private business extremely public at an alarming rate
**For what it's worth: my new supervisor has dreadlocks, gauged ears, and is "covered in tats" (her words, not mine), so my own tattoos & facial piercings are right at home.

Comments

wooooooooooooooooow. that's seriously all I can say. Natalie, I'm SO happy for you :) God is so good.
<3 Andrea <3 said…
Congratulations! This sounds like an amazing opportunity for you! I am so incredible happy for your new chapter to begin! <3
M.Anderson said…
I am so happy for you and the organization and the women you'll help.
Carol J. Brown said…
Way to go, Natalie! The job sounds like a good fit, and I hope you are very happy with it. Love, Aunt Carol
Audrey Bilodeau said…
So very happy for you! Your journey had purpose, and rarely are our prayers answered in the way we were expecting. I'm praying for you as you begin this new and exciting adventure!
Lea said…
Giving hope to those of us still unemployed...yay you!
Vanessa's Dad said…
God is watching over you. He is using your big, obedient heart, mind and soul to reach "the least of these" in Portland. You'll be great.

LOVE,DAD
Anna S. said…
Congrats Natalie, you will do great!!