By: Emerson Auguste, Guest Writer
Less than a year ago, I graduated with a Computer Science degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. I was fortunate enough to have a job waiting for me–thanks to two summer internships I had at the IT Department of a prestigious company in Lakeland, FL. In fact, the morning after my graduation, I had to search for an apartment. Everything happened very quickly. I didn’t have time to reflect on my graduation and my future. Instead, I had to figure out how far from my work location I should live and how much I was willing to spend on rent.
A couple days later, there I was in Lakeland living on my own. Done were the days when I could just walk to the cafeteria for lunch or for dinner (I usually missed breakfast). Mom could no longer help since she is some 200 miles away in South Florida. For the first couple weeks, I ate out almost every day. At the end of the month I was surprised to see how much I have spent on food. So I decided to learn how to cook. Up to this point, the only real “meal” I knew how to prepare was pasta with red sauce. Since then, I’ve been forced to expand my cooking skills.
Apart from having to learn to be in the kitchen more often, I had to create new friendships. It is really difficult to forge new relationships in a new place. My weekends were mostly uneventful. Not wanting to fall in a state of loneliness, I decided to go the library after work or to attend services at any church that had a Young Adults ministry until I could find a home church. In passing, I’d like to say that the devil triumphs in situations when one is alone. We are designed to enjoy the fellowship of our Christian brothers and sisters. So knowing that, I prayed that God would introduce me to some fellow Christians who could encourage me in the faith and whom I could encourage.
Another challenge that I faced was to let go of what I expected my first job after graduation to be like or the kind of environment I wished to be in. I explored different options but none of them came true. I’m not sure if it had to do with the graduation speech summoning my classmates and I to “go for our dream,” to “change the world.” They failed to tell me that there is a bridge between that day and the day when my career goals would come true.
I forgot that it’s also about the process. Most people’s first job is not their dream job. My situation is an ideal one, some may say. And I believe it is. But it is not quite what I had in mind. I wanted to live in a big city.
So, letting go of that picture-perfect-plan was one of the most difficult challenges I endured for the past couple months. I forgot that my current position would allow me to develop strength of character, growth, and understanding of the industry without having the risks that a bigger role would involve.
In Philippians 4:11, Paul says that he has learned to be content in all things. Contentment is a state of being that we learn to dwell in. It’s not an easy thing. It goes against the flesh. It’s being thankful for what is while making our request(s) known to Him (Phil 4:6) for what we hope to take place in our life.
Discontentment produces ungratefulness, jealousy. When you and I are not content we start making things happen on our own, outside of God’s will for our life. Aren’t we all His? Aren’t His plan and His timing better than what we could ever come up with?
In my discontentment, I began to compare myself with other people I knew. Their situation looked more like what I wanted. But it is never a good thing to compare ourselves to others. (That is what the devil wants us to do). We are different and God has a unique plan for us.
Some of us are holding on firmly to dreams of becoming a doctor or a lawyer or whatever else. But I have come to realize that those dreams, while not necessarily bad, can become idols. And God may delay them simply to allow us to draw closer to Him. He cares more about us living in close communion with Him than He does about us fulfilling our childhood professional dreams.
If you are a recent grad who remains unemployed, I would like to encourage you to take advantage of the time to offer your requests to Jesus and to free yourself from anxiety. Like the song says: “I will serve you while I’m waiting.” It is exactly what we should do. We create an environment for Jesus to do what He does best: to show how big He is.