A new job… again. Do I have itchy feet?

Mission“One thing I see on your resume here is that it kind of looks like you have itchy feet,” one of my interviewers said. “Can you explain your job moves from the past five years?”

I was waiting for this question, which was a very valid question. Not because I was worried about it, but because I was eager to answer. Within five years I had held three jobs, and now I was looking for another one. Take a glance at my resume and it would be easy to assume I had itchy feet.

But that’s not the case at all, and I explained to her why.

When I returned from Uganda in 2014, I needed a job. Any job. My employer from before I moved to Uganda was willing to take me back. I was facing medical issues from my time in Uganda, and I needed insurance immediately. I had no intentions of staying there.

Then, as my medical issues cleared up and I was able to work with a headhunter, I got my job at a local foundation. I loved my job at the foundation. I was very happy there! The pay was good, and I liked the people I worked with. I also loved that I was able to get involved as a volunteer at a nearby homeless ministry. Life was good.

But then, after working at the foundation for about ten months, an opening for a Director of Marketing & Communications became available at the homeless ministry. People were sending me the job opening left and right. It was a perfect fit AND at a ministry I loved dearly. I didn’t even know if I was qualified, but I interviewed, and I got the job.

I was there for three and a half years. Then, there were some changes in leadership, some changes in direction and vision, and I needed to go.

The woman who asked me if I had “itchy feet” said, “That all makes sense! Thank you!”

And it does make sense.

SJCHFThose who don’t know details might say I left my most recent job just because things got rough. When, little do they know, I’d been toying with the idea of leaving for over a year. It’s been rough for a long time. I wanted to hold on. I wanted to retire from that ministry. Without going into details, my heart and my conscience wouldn’t let me.

I prayed about it for many, many months, and I had no question that I had to go. God gave me the wisdom and strength I needed to part ways. I especially had to get the past the fear of, “What will people think if I switch jobs again?” and get over it. It’s my life, not theirs. And has my three jobs in five years kept me from getting another great job? Clearly not, as tomorrow I start a new one at a respected college preparatory school in town.

Honestly, it would have been easier to stay where I was. There’s comfort in what you know, even when you’re miserable. Even when you don’t agree with important choices that have been made. I think this is why so many people stay in jobs that make them miserable. It’s miserable, but it’s also comfortable.

If that’s you, I encourage you to step out in faith. At least see what’s out there. Yes, starting over with a new company and a new job is stressful, and there’s great fear of the unknown, but you only live once. Instead of complaining every day that you have a terrible job and work for a terrible company, get out!

Despite my explanations for three jobs in five years, some still might say I have itchy feet. That’s not my problem. We have one life to live, and I’m going to make the choices that help me live my life to the fullest.

Setting yourself up for disappointment

I’m an unmarried woman with no children. For years, I have seen friends and acquaintances lose their identities in their spouse or children.

How could they? I’d often think.  It would seriously annoy me, as I knew that our identities are in Christ.

45991445_2111149768905157_4940590585275744256_nAnd then I realized last week that I, too, wasn’t finding my identity in Christ. For the past three and a half years, although not a super long time, I’ve found my identity in being the Director of Marketing & Communications for The Rescue Mission, a ministry that serves the homeless.

It’s actually been time to leave The Rescue Mission for months. Maybe even a year. I love The Rescue Mission with all my heart, but for various reasons, I had become miserable. Still, I couldn’t leave. What would people think? I appear on local news channels for my job, representing The Rescue Mission. I’ve given up holidays with my family to work, even though I didn’t always have to. When things started to get messy, my health took a nosedive, and I had three different doctors, including a psychiatrist, tell me to quit my job.

But I just couldn’t. I realized last week why – my identity was in my job. Let me tell you, be it your job, your child, your spouse, or whatever, finding your identity in anything other than Christ will set you up for disappointment.

I’ve always SAID my identity was in Christ, but I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever actually lived that way. In the past I’ve found my identity in jobs, boyfriends, mission trips, friends, and even church. And every single one of them let me down.

Having your identity in Christ doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt by others. What it means is that when you DO get hurt (and you will), you are going to be OK. You are not who your boss says you are. You are not who your ex-spouse says you are. You are not who that stranger on Facebook says you are. You are who God says you are. You are a child of God. Always.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His light.”
1 Peter 2:9

Christ is the only one who can pull you out of darkness into light. So why put your identity anywhere else?

IMG_1458A week ago I accepted a new job and turned in my resignation from The Rescue Mission. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it’s been one I’ve been wrestling with for quite awhile. But it’s OK. I can leave The Rescue Mission and still be Natalie. I’m actually hoping I can be a better version of Natalie.

My new job has very similar duties to what I was doing at The Rescue Mission, but it will be for a secular organization. (In all honesty, I will likely never work for a ministry again, but that’s another blog post, maybe even book, for another day in the distant future.) I am beyond excited about this next adventure in my life, and I plan to be the best Marketing Communications Specialist my new employer has ever seen. But it will NOT be my identity. If it is, I’ll surely end up burnt out. I’ll definitely end up disappointed.

And I’m tired of being disappointed.

Although I’ve always been quick in my mind to notice others whose identities are in the wrong thing, I’ve also struggled with it myself for as long as I can remember. I have to make a change.

My identity is not Natalie, Director of Marketing & Communications of The Rescue Mission.

It’s not Natalie, mission-trip-taker.

It’s not Natalie, cookie maker.

I’ll still be some of those things, but they will not define me. It’s time to be Natalie, child of God.


I’m working on writing and publishing my first book! I’ve created an author page on Facebook, and I hope you’ll “Like” it and come on this crazy journey with me! Click below to visit the page. 

NatalieLogo

The position I couldn’t refuse (kind of like mayo)

10989201_10152868956486573_2499407629811187220_nSome decisions are easy. Do I want mayo on that? Of course. Would I like to go to Target? Always. Should I run away from my responsibilities and live on the beach? No. Should I submit my application to be the next Bachelorette? Double no.

Other decisions, they are not so easy. Sometimes they’re just awful and yet so great at the same time.

When I was offered my current position at a local foundation, there was no doubt about it that I should take the job. It was a raise, better hours and benefits, and I would be working at a nonprofit. Oh yeah, and my position at the time was at a horrible company. Decision to leave? Easy.

I’ve been thrilled to have my new position at a nonprofit. It’s been fun, and my co-workers are some amazing people. I haven’t even considered looking for another job.

But then, another job found me. And it was pretty much my dream job.

“Marketing Director,” was the job title, and it was at the local nonprofit where I volunteer each week. It was at the local nonprofit that my church supports. The only reason I knew about the job is because they posted it on Facebook, and a few people pointed it out to me.

10846434_10152450003736573_2901492763140195990_n
Dad volunteered with me one morning serving breakfast at The Rescue Mission.

What to do? What to do?! I thought. I’ve only been at the foundation since May. I couldn’t possibly leave already. I wasn’t even considering leaving! But how could I pass up such an opportunity?

Tough decision, but…

 

I applied. I interviewed. I interviewed again. They offered me the job. All within about a week.

So there I sat in my beautiful downtown office with giant windows having just been offered a different job. If I accepted the job and had to tell my boss, it would totally and completely blindside her. Even I was feeling a little blindsided.

I looked around my office. It’s so nice. I only recently moved into this larger, nicer office. This was after I spent a week in Florida over Christmas. Our PTO (paid time off) policy here is pretty amazing, so I had the time to spend in Florida. My co-workers are phenomenal women who love and care about the community and are doing great things to help the less fortunate. Things aren’t perfect, but I realized that I was comfortable.

Why on earth would I leave such a good gig?

It was the same answer to when I was deciding whether or not to move to Uganda: God wants me to.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, and one of my favorite quotes from him is, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” That’s what this is. And that’s why I’m leaving my current job after only eight months.

“Career suicide!” some people say, but the thing is, this position I have accepted is like an actor getting a leading role in a major Hollywood movie. It’s like a chef taking a position at his favorite restaurant. It’s like, well, me… taking a position at the nonprofit I volunteer for and have a bleeding heart for.

There was a time when God called me across the globe to live in Uganda. Now He’s called me just a few blocks away. In this position, I feel I’ll really be able to shine for Him and see Him change lives. After all, the mission of The Rescue Mission, where I’ll be working, is, “To provide, through the power of Jesus Christ, a home for the homeless, food for the hungry, and hope for their future.”

I honestly can’t think of a better, more Christ-centered mission than that. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse. The decision ended up being as easy as, “Do you want mayo on that?” And if you know me well, I’m pretty obsessed with mayonnaise.