Editor’s Note: Aaron Cross, a 2009 college graduate who also writes freelance for United Methodist News Service, shared this commentary last year on his struggles to find a full-time job in the tough job market, and how his faith gave him peace in a time of turmoil. Fast-forward a year: The job market isn’t any better, and Aaron is still seeking full-time employment. But he also keeps filling out applications and relying on his faith for strength and patience.
Sept. 6, 2010
Many recent graduates would love to find a job in their field in this tough market.
A web-only photo illustration by iStockphoto/Winston Davidian.
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It was around July of 2009 when it really hit me: I was in trouble.
I had graduated from Atlanta’s Oglethorpe University in May with a bachelor’s degree in communications and was, perhaps unwisely, assuming that there would be some form of job awaiting me in the “real world.” After a few months of sending out résumé after résumé, calling business after business, receiving no response, a “no” response or, in a few cases, going to an interview and then receiving a “no,” I was frustrated and tired of looking. Call it a form of burnout.
Thankfully, after a short trip home to South Dakota for the Fourth of July, and with some not-so-gentle prodding from my wonderful mother, I decided to do something I hadn’t done for my four years of college: go to church. Church and spirituality hadn’t been my highest priority while I was in school, but I was willing to try anything to break me out of the rut I had fallen into.
That willingness is what led me that next Sunday to Chamblee United Methodist in Atlanta, just a couple miles from the apartment that I shared with my best friend. As soon as the sermon started, I knew this was where I needed to be. The next few months were some of the most spiritually fulfilling of my life. I joined the choir and just enjoyed being a part of something greater than myself.
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end.
An active faith gives hope to many facing disappointments in their job search. A UMNS photo illustration by Kathleen Barry.
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Near the end of October, I realized that, with still no job or even prospects, my ability to pay rent had nearly run out. Thus, with a heavy heart and a moving company behind me, I left Atlanta for Nashville, Tenn., where my parents had recently relocated. And Nashville is where I remain today. I still have not been able to find full-time work, and that same frustration, that same anger and that same mental exhaustion is back again.
I would like to stay in my field of study, but anything would be a nice step up at this point. It just takes more effort to force myself to keep looking, to get past that defeatist mindset, which is poisonous if left unchecked.
I'm also considering graduate school, as many of my friends and classmates are doing. I don't know if grad school is the right place for me, but right now, it's looking better and better. My friends are in the same place. Nearly all of them are attending graduate school in different places, trying to make some sense of what they are doing with their lives.
I’ll be honest. It’s been difficult to maintain a steady level of faith, especially with the way things are right now. I came to Nashville because I had a strong feeling that a particular event was going to occur and, well, it didn’t. It’s been a challenge to stay upbeat, and I know I’m not the only person out there with that feeling.
Platitudes and clichés like “God will provide” and “Everything happens for a reason” are, of course, said with the very best of intentions. However, they are of little comfort when it seems, at times, that God is not providing or that what is happening – or is not happening – doesn’t seem to be for any reason. Simply put, even with the intended comforts, it is not difficult to lose hope.
All that being said, it’s easy to be faithful when everything is going right. It’s how we react, how faithful we remain in the bad times, the frustrating times and the dark times that show the depth of our faith. For me, I believe that the right opportunity will come soon. God will provide. He always does.
*Cross is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn. (References are available upon request.)
News media contact: Joey Butler, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.