What is a professional? Boy of boy, I’m tired just thinking about it! Student loans, hours and hours of research, reading and writing papers, maybe working for free as an intern, going to trade-school, and working through an apprenticeship. Finally, after years of devoting oneself to this achievement, you graduate and can now call yourself a professional. Well, maybe not now, because being a professional takes practice, 10,000 hours more hours of actually doing the thing, and doing it well.
Having gone through all of this myself, I empathize with all who endure this grueling process. I devoted years and effort to my profession, and I did it well, but it was all gone one day.
Had I known this could happen to me, I don’t think I would have devoted so much of my life for so little in return. When setbacks happen, and they will, we can become angry, disappointed, close ourselves off, or allow God to humble us. It’s all about our response, my friend.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)
Nothing is wasted
Have you ever worked so hard for something only to have it taken away from you? How did you bounce back? It’s been a few years now, and I haven’t yet, and maybe that’s because I’m not supposed to. At least not to the same place.
“Wasting nothing, God will use every hardship, every bruise in your life to strengthen your faith and train you in godliness. You will be ready for whatever today or tomorrow will bring.”
— Joni Eareckson Tada, Use Every Hardship
God allows setbacks for a reason. And while they are painful, we emerge better for them. Nothing is wasted.
Recovering from a professional setback is difficult but not impossible. I realized that, even though my job is different now, my skills are still intact, and I can use them for a greater priority. The return on my investment was delayed, not dissolved, as I originally thought.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
— Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
With the proper outlook, we can experience an upside to professional setbacks. We don’t always understand why things happen (Isaiah 55:8) neither do we have to. Instead, trust God for the outcome and consider this, could this setback be God’s way of redirecting your steps in His direction (Proverbs 16:9). Is He offering you a bigger, more important opportunity? Will you accept?
See, you’re smiling already.
In my case, God opened up time, exactly when I needed to become a full-time caregiver to my special-needs sister, Michelle. He knew I would try to do both, so He ripped the bandaid off before I could try. My caregiver role keeps me home a lot, but it also gives me more time to write. And I still get to use my administrative gifts to plan writing projects and improve my website to reach, teach, and serve others. And even though the tech side of things exasperated me at times, all of it brings me joy.
Reading my story, do you see that it’s possible to find joy in every situation? Yes, friend, it is. Although we are too raw to experience joy initially, it’s there waiting for the right moment to reveal itself. Everything becomes clear in God’s timing. Just know that He cares for you.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
–Isaiah 55:12 (NIV)
- Have you ever experienced a professional or personal setback?
- Find a quiet place and try looking back at it from God’s perspective. Ask for clarity in the situation.
- Instead of seeing a loss as if something was taken away, is it possible that God set a new path to something even better than you imagined?
Special note: I referenced two verses from Isaiah 55 in this post. I encourage you to read all thirteen verses because it will make you smile.
This post is part of the #Write28Days writing challenge. The prompt today is PROFESSION. Check out the other great writers participating in this challenge. Thanks to Anita Ojeda for hosting the event.