Employed by Him

Good women always have a desire to know if they are succeeding.
In a world where the measures of success are often distorted,
it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources.
Julie B. Beck

After only a month of work, my census job is finished. I completed all my assignments and turn in my badge tomorrow. This temporary job was my first paid employment, beyond freelance work, in sixteen years. I’ve been quiet about it because I took an oath of confidentiality to protect the work I did. That and my overly-busy days have kept me writing and talking less, especially on the subject of work.

Internally, though, I continue to explore my own role in the larger working community. With my children growing up and preparing to leave home in the next 5-7 years, I want to use this time period to gain experience and bring my skills to a professional level.  The question of whether to return to the workforce and when, where and how to do so has been with me for more than a year. I assumed my answer would be clear by the time I finished my work. But no external signs—new contracts for for my husband’s business, other offers of employment for me, word about  my manuscript submission—have appeared.

The challenge for a mom like me returning to the workforce is that even though I have an education and abilities, my age, my years out of the workforce, my lack of proven practical experience in my field and the high number of applicants keeps me from even being considered.  That brings an internal struggle of doubt in myself and my direction.  If I really listen, though, to the more subtle cues and messages that have surrounded me this month as a working mom, I see smaller reassurances that lead me right where I need to be for now.

1. Appreciation for the work of my husband, the provider in our home. Within a few days of starting my census training, I knew the worth of what my husband has done faithfully for years without complaint. During a lunch break, I prayed for his burdens to be lifted and for his success.

2. Understanding for the choices working women and mothers have to balance every day. When I felt the greater chaos and feelings of being overwhelmed in my own life, I felt compassion and a need to temper my expectation of other women.

3. Recognition of the fragile nature of our home. A serious bullying incident erupted in our neighborhood and on the school bus that woke me to the reality that my children, my family and our home still need physical, emotional and spiritual protection and challenged me to not be distracted by my own goals.

4. Answers to other questions in my life. Active listening and seeking during three weekends of conferences in our church in the last month opened my eyes to what this struggle is teaching me about who I am and who I am becoming.

5. Achieving a feeling I’ve sought for three years as a religious educator. I taught one of the most significant lessons of the scriptures—what is sometimes called the fifth gospel, the account of Jesus Christ visiting the American Continent and ministering to the people in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon. I felt the witness of truth come to my students.

6. Extending personal time to serve a stranger. Many years ago I helped a woman at the library write a letter. She asked a mutual friend to find out if I could help her again by writing a news release and a letter seeking donations for a sick relative. The joy in giving my talents for her cause was the only payment I felt right accepting.

7. Affirmation that my education and skills are valued and needed. Although all callings in our church are appointed, unpaid positions, I have received a new one that fits like the jobs for which I’ve applied. I am now the director of public affairs in the St. Cloud Minnesota Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This weekend, a woman leader spoke at our church meeting about her regular volunteer service at one of our temples. She said being “employed by the Savior” helps her draw near unto him. I immediately scribbled this phrase on my blank paper. Then I wrote, “This is what I want to do with my time and skills and talents.” Almost as quickly, I received other ideas that confirmed that I, too, am employed by the Savior. There’s no better work, I’ve found, than to labor for him.

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1 Comment

  1. Rachel
    Apr 20, 2010

    Having returned to work after 7 years at home with the kids I’ve had a lot of the same thoughts lately, how to incorporate working while still providing the support and consistency for my kids, etc. I was lucky to find a job that only took me to the office during their school hours, so it’s sure to be more of a blessing than a curse, but only time will tell 🙂

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