On Closed Doors and Changing Perspectives
I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize my own face. It looked somber, angry, incapable of ever smiling again.
Since the time college had ended and my had life become a whirlwind of whatever luck would bring me, I had been a little depressed and angry at God. It seemed like every door I knocked on didn’t want to open, and I had been knocking for quite a while now with still no open doors for me.
I wiped the smudged eye liner under my eye, giving me the look of a sad raccoon.
“Why am I here?” I whispered.
No one was in the room, just me and God, if He actually was there.
If my life was going to be used as evidence that God existed to bless people and wanted security for them, it would probably prove that he didn’t exist. That, or he was a masochist who liked watching people wallow as they unsuccessfully tried to piece a life together.
I couldn’t understand why going to bible studies and sermons didn’t lead to a straight and narrow satisfying life.
The days of feeling whole after opening up to my small groups about struggles in my life were gone. I had just started a new small group, but somehow that wasn’t enough anymore. I went to church on Sundays, but sometimes I didn’t make it if it was a late Saturday night. I gave money to ministries. Was I not doing enough good in the world for God?
What was the purpose in all this? What was God’s perfect plan they like to stick to you in Sunday school when you are younger? What kind of God allowed his children to slowly fall into a depression, when they are trying their hardest to provide for themselves and others? Maybe the question I was most concerned about in that moment looking in the bathroom mirror was this: “Did God really care?”
“God, why? You gave my friends full-time jobs, fiancées, homes, what did I do wrong? Did I sin? Did I do something to tick you off? Am I going to be a lesson some day for somebody of what not to do with their life? I’ve done every thing right. What do you want from me?”
Just a deep breath that was mine...
Later that evening, I met with my friend Rachel for coffee. Rachel was in campus ministry, and was always willing to list and provide encouragement. When she asked how I was doing, I didn’t hold back. I told her how my life was awful and I was depressed that day. Okay, maybe I was being dramatic about how awful my life was, but on that day, I felt deep discouragement after all the months of efforts I had put into job hunting to no avail.
Here’s the thing about Rachel: she always listens before she speaks. I’ve come to find that’s a rare quality in a person, as most of us are eager to tell you what we already have on our mind before we even finish listening to what you have to say.
I explained how nothing seemed to match up the way I wanted it to this past year: a steady job, a job I could be passionate about, living somewhere stable, dating a guy who was sure he wanted to be with me beyond the three months of bliss... the list went on.
When I finished listing my woes, Rachel shared with me her words of wisdom.
“Regan, I’m really sorry it’s been rough. I know this is not what you had planned. It reminds me of a verse that our team leader has been emphasizing since him and his wife have faced hard times.”
The team leader she was referring to had just endured the greatest joy and heartache of almost losing his wife and unborn child when she went into premature labor. It took blood transfusions to restore his wife back to health, while his daughter stayed in the hospital for days. Both are doing well now, but it was a scary, unexpected experience at the time with no sure outcome.
“Acts 17:26-27. It talks about how God appoints boundaries and certain times in life,” Rachel said. “There isn’t anything out of his control. In fact, it can be used to draw nearer to him or used as an opportunity to help someone else in need.”
Whenever someone quotes a verse or something else to me, it takes time for it to sink in. Days. Weeks. Sometimes it takes a few days for me not to be bitter that the person shared the verse with me in the first place. Initially, I didn’t find much comfort when she read the verse aloud; it took another read through of the verse later that night to actually comprehend what it meant.
Within the past week, I had been happy, angry, and numb, but this time, Rachel’s words gave perspective on my view of God.
Maybe God wasn’t out to get me, after all. Maybe he was giving me a wide range of opportunities to see what I really wanted to do with my life.
At that time when I was struggling with wondering why nothing seemed to be going as I’d hoped, I had an internship I loved. An internship that had a mission that I could believe in and sink my teeth into. I also had the endless possibility of applying for jobs wherever I wanted to be—Portland, Seattle, Nashville—the places I’ve always dreamed of living. I also had a job, great friends, and the opportunity to be creative with my future.
It all had to do with perspective. It also had to do with a choice of believing God, or not believing in him. On that day, I finally chose not to be bitter and to believe him.
And then, six days later, I was offered a job.
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