It’s January, so coffee-time procrastination is no longer online Christmas shopping: it’s job-hunting. It’s fortunate that I do it while consuming caffeine, since as I think about ‘the next step’, I am wearied by the constant demand from employers for x numbers of experience or a vocational degree. For a culture that so prizes youth, it feels like everyone is expected to be retrieved from the gooseberry bush aged 32, with experience of leading a team, marketing, and accounts-management. There’s no room at the inn for a 21 year old who can tell you about the medieval understanding of monsters, what nineteenth-century Spiritualists got up to in the industrial north, or wax lyrical about Richard II’s use of art in establishing his tyrannical regime. Funny that.
When it comes to CV-writing, I am even more loath to compartmentalise my life into ‘education’ and ‘activities and interests’, drawing out skills developed from each chunk. As if my life was me being pushed along a conveyor belt, with a nice shiny output from the machine named ‘Saturday job’, then the one named ‘University’, and all the ones in-between for ‘extra-curricular activities’. All the self-hype leaves a bad taste in my mouth. For every ‘moral’ derived from each stage of my life (now the book of Aesop’s fables with the happy ending being the top rung of the career ladder), I can think of a bunch of less glittering, more pigs-earish episodes. (To use a harmless example: ) I’m ‘I.T. literate’… y’know, except the time I lost my first year dissertation. At best, it leaves me sounding and feeling utterly two-dimensional, like I am just a string of achievements, amidst a box of longer threads. And all those Tuesday nights in, hanging out with my mum watching Midsomer Murders- well, I thought I was at my most peaceful then, but in the land of job applications, they all mean diddly squat. I should have been learning Mandarin instead. Essentially, the potential for comparison and feelings of inadequacy is endless.
Which is why I can’t get a poem out of my head about the Virgin Mary.
“It seems everyone wants at least 3-5 years experience.
Except God, that is.
He looks for the one willing to try something new.”
Romans 5:8: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
God the Father runs toward the prodigal son before he has even uttered a word of apology. No spiritual credentials needed. No two-to-three years of proving you’re truly penitent before God loves you, before He sends His son to die for you. And we all have empty hands lifted up to Him, no matter how many degrees, languages, ‘experiences of working well in a team’, or shiny spiritual references we have under our belts. It isn’t that other folk are unnecessarily cynical and God knows we’re good eggs really. He does it all knowing full well how we will abuse His blessing and/or pretend He didn’t give it us at all. For some crazily wonderful reason, in God’s economy, letting total novices do His work is worth the teething problems.
Nothing like a competitive job market to make you think working for God would be the easy option.