Forty Days and Forty Nights
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
– Luke 4:1-2 (ESV)
This wasn’t going to be my post for today, but upon waking up, I was struck with some thoughts that I needed to get down in my journal. Then I realized that I very much wanted to share them with others.
Since today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent for those in the Christian world who observe it, I thought it was doubly appropriate to share this. Perhaps others can relate.
It has been 40 days since my last day at my previous job. Strange how time flies when you’re not paying attention, huh? Yesterday I found out that I didn’t get the gig I interviewed for (I won’t spill much about the details, but it’s a position in an industry I’m interested in, doing stimulating work). My interviewer informed me that while I was a great candidate, they went with another person for the role. The position was for a set period of time, and I think they found someone who would fit their timeframe better, since I’ll be away for a chunk of days in April for a friend’s wedding.
My interviewers were very pleasant and I have nothing ill to say of them. It just didn’t work out. Still, being human, my natural reaction was of disappointment. I’ll admit, I was pretty bummed initially to hear that I didn’t get the position. You’d think by now that I’m so used to applying and interviewing for jobs that I would get used to this process, that each rejection wouldn’t feel so personal so much as business-as-usual. At least I gained some interview experience that helped me to warm up and improve my social skills mojo.
To a certain extent, that is true. I’m definitely tougher in spirit than I was, say, straight out of college. All nerves, feeling like a contestant on some reality show being put in the hot seat for the –nth time. However, you’re always going to experience a level of stress and anxiety in life. That’s normal. For me, I was all too quick to plunge into the world of job hunting immediately after my last job. I didn’t really allow myself time to breathe, assess where I was going or what I even wanted out of life – vocationally or otherwise. It was like some frantic rush to fill up the gap in my resume. And, in a way, to fill up the gap of my feelings of inadequacy.
This season of change has been good for me. At the moment, I’m volunteering my design and blogging skills. I’ve learned to take it one day (and one step) at a time. I’m giving myself margin for creative exploration, roaming the city (which, as an added plus, provides inspiration for this blog!), and to establish better spiritual discipline and exercise habits. I haven’t been 100% all the time, but I’m definitely further along than I was six months ago.
So how does all of this relate to Jesus, Ash Wednesday and Lent? Well, in life you will encounter both trials and joy, soul-crushing despair and supreme elation. You’ll be dragged across the desert for 40 days and 40 nights (give or take), where hope has run dry and you’re feeling desperate for a way out. The highs and lows can be polarizing. It’s what anchors you, the meaning behind all your actions, that can ground you and provide a source of strength and guidance during those moments when you honestly don’t know if you want to wake up tomorrow.
For some, that’s religion or a faith system. For others, it’s the love of family and friends. I’ve been blessed to have both in my life. Sure, I will still feel insecure in my abilities at times, but then I remember how far I have come, and that positivity, hard work, and giving back to others have enriched my life tremendously. And I know that I have all that I need to succeed.
It’s OK to fail at something, provided you learn from your experiences. In fact, failure is inevitable and normal. Failing means you are forcing yourself out of familiar territory in an attempt to GROW. It takes great effort and courage to do that, whether it’s approaching a new relationship or career. Now I want to state that for various reasons (family, financial, etc.), not everyone has the means or opportunity to take these kinds of chances. Consider yourself fortunate if you can call it a viable option for you.
I encourage you to be bold and search your heart. Don’t be afraid of the answers, and where they may take you. Recognize the potential within you, and go from there. Make each moment count. Live with no regrets. That’s my life’s mantra, in a nutshell.
I still don’t know where I’ll end up, but the view’s not bad from where I’m standing. 🙂
Some closing questions to ponder:
- Are you challenging yourself to reach your fullest potential?
- What would you like to do right now instead of whatever it is you are doing currently (vocationally, relationally, etc.)? What is the ONE THING holding you back?
- What do you value most in life, and what aren’t you willing to compromise or give up?
- If you were given a one-way ticket to anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? (Remember, it’s up to you to find your return ticket home.)