In the spring of 2016, I had the opportunity to apply for a teaching position in my local school district. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was one of the few chosen to interview for the job. The interview included the typical question-and-answer session, as well as a requirement for me to play a prepared piece on the piano for the interview panel, in order to show my ability level on the instrument.
I knocked this interview out of the park. I answered each of the interviewers’ questions fully and succinctly. I was calm and at ease, even politely joking with the panel at one point. I tied their questions back to the NYS Arts Standards and Common Core Standards. I gave specific examples of typical “music teacher stuff”: how I would teach a lesson, how I would run a chorus rehearsal, how I would accommodate students with special needs. When I told the panel the title of the song I would be performing on piano, one of the panel members said, “Great choice! The kids love that one.” I played the song perfectly with no mistakes. I left the interview feeling euphoric. I would definitely be getting a call back for a second interview!
But that call never came.
I spent an agonizing two weeks waiting for a phone call or email from the school principal. What was taking them so long? I gave an amazingly strong interview! I have to be one of the final candidates, right? I found myself questioning my answers to the panel. Had I said something that didn’t sit right with them? Where had I gone wrong? After some time went by, I resigned myself to the fact that I had not been chosen. During the last week of June, I received a generic letter from the district saying the position had been filled, and thanking me for my interview. And that was that.
You’ve gotta be kidding me. That’s it? A bland “thanks but no thanks” letter? Where was God in all this? Why was He allowing this to happen? I felt lost. I felt confused. I felt very alone. But most of all, I felt angry with God. Really, really angry. Seethingly angry. “I’m not going to church anymore” angry.
Now let me back up a bit and explain. I haven’t been happy in my current job for some time. In my prayers at night I always ask God to help me to be obedient and to do the best work I can in the position where he has placed me. I know I am where I am for a reason. Clearly I was meant to be an example of Christ to the students of this community. But I was (am) overwhelmed, exhausted and numb. As I was praying one day right before the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, I heard these words clear as a bell: one more year. I clung to those words, firmly believing that God had sent them as a message to me. “Just get through this one last year, Sabrina, and you will be able to move on.” So I waited. I tried my best to be patient. The phrase became my mantra as the year wore on and more and more responsibilities and expectations were piled onto me. One more year. One more year. When the local job opportunity opened up, it further cemented my belief that God wanted a change for me. So I applied, had an awesome interview…and nothing came of it.
Talk about a punch to the gut.
Is there ever a time when it is okay to be angry with God? At first glance it seems like a pretty selfish and petty thing to do. Who the heck am I to question God’s judgment? I am broken, He is perfect. Why should I presume to think I know better than Him? However, the reality is that people blame God for stuff all the time. Divorce, sickness, financial difficulty, not getting the job you wanted (hmm…). People raise their fists to the sky and curse God for “letting” these things happen to them. I sure felt that way at first. Why would God send this one more year message to me, and then not follow through? I needed to turn to Scripture for some guidance.
In Deuteronomy 32:39, God tells us, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” Ouch. This verse brings me back to the days when my parents would say, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out, too!” I definitely needed to be knocked down a peg, and this verse sure did the trick.
But as much as God can take things away (or just not give them in the first place), He can also bless us abundantly. “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:31-33). These words bring me hope. We may go through seasons of loss and sadness, but God is always there to comfort and heal us.
In reading these two passages from Scripture, the father/child relationship is especially evident. In Deuteronomy, God has reminded us who is boss and given us a time-out in the corner. In Lamentations, God has put His arms around us, had a chat with us, and sent us off to play again. In my case, God is telling me to “get over it”, in a certain sense, but in another He is also saying “just trust me”. Through it all, though, the important message to be heard from God is simply “talk to me”. God wants us to bring our troubles and lay them at His feet. He wants us to express our feelings and emotions to Him. He wants to carry the load for us. He wants us to fall on Him in any and all things in our lives. Yes, even when we are angry with Him, God wants us to tell Him about it. He already knows, of course.
I tried to figure out any sort of meaning or message from the events that took place with the job interview. All summer long I prayed and said “Okay, just show me what it is you want me to do then!” In late August I heard a beautiful song for the first time. It is called “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family. I stopped dead in my tracks as I heard the first words in the song – I’m so confused/I know I heard you loud and clear/ So I followed through/Somehow I ended up here. Wow. By the time the chorus of the song came, tears were rolling down my face. I don’t wanna think/I may never understand/That my broken heart is a part of your plan/When I try to pray/All I’ve got is hurt and these four words/Thy will be done, Thy will be done, Thy will be done. Suddenly a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. The darkness surrounding the whole situation was gone. Nothing had changed at all, but yet everything had. I looked up and said, “I’m sorry I was so selfish. Whatever you have in store for me will be wonderful.”
So be gentle on yourselves, friends. It’s okay to feel upset, disappointed or even angry with God. Just don’t stay that way. Confess your feelings to Him, but acknowledge that in the end, He is the one who knows best, not you. Pray for guidance and peace. Lean into God and let Him be your comfort and your rest. Allow Him to carry your burdens. From what I hear, He’s got pretty broad shoulders.
Wanna hear the amazing song that helped me reconcile with God? Click the link below!