I graduated from college in May, and have a decent office job right now. I love the people I work with, and occasionally enjoy the work, but I am, overall, dissatisfied with my life. I've got two issues to address: 1) living arrangements, 2) direction in life.
- I am still living at home with my parents, and our living situation is cramped and crowded due to some renovation (which has been creeping along all summer). This makes privacy and alone time with the Lord nearly impossible. I have an offer to move in with a couple of girls I met through my roommates last year, during my senior year. Financially, I could move out. But I can also see the benefit of staying at home and saving that money instead. The living situation at home is detrimental to my relationship with God, and with my family in some ways. Basically, I find it extremely difficult to be like Jesus at home in the midst of my family, who are all believers themselves. Should I take the offer from my friends and move out?
- I have none. No direction. Don't know what I would like to do or what I want to be when I grow up. And I'm getting nothing from God. I had been diligently praying for direction and making an effort to search for jobs and interview, etc., earlier during the summer, but never got an answer or even a hint, so I became very discouraged. More recently I haven't been praying about it, and combined with my living situation at home, I haven't really been in fellowship or communion with the Lord at all. I have continued to job search, but have come up empty, again.
I think all of these issues stem from my lack of fellowship/communion/alone-time with God and from my hardened heart. I feel like I'm on the edge of something happening to me, spiritually, like a spiritual jump-start or something. But I am having trouble putting the cables to the right plugs. Any in your face, do-something-about-it, advice you can give would be welcome.
Thanks for all you do on Boundless! I really appreciate your honesty and biblically based advice.
Having lived at home after I graduated from college, I know how difficult it can be. I've also lived with a family I wasn't related to, as well as in a house with three female roommates. Every situation had its challenges. No matter who you live with, you will face challenges simply because we're all sinners. We all struggle with selfishness and make it difficult at points to get along. I don't think moving out of one trying situation — living with your family — will necessarily mean a peaceful living arrangement. You may find living with female peers easier. But you may not. A lot of that depends on you.
Any good living situation takes work, including a willingness to be honest about what you contribute to or withdraw from it. A wise person said, "You're either part of the problem or part of the solution." Before moving away from your family, do an honest and prayerful assessment of which side of that equation you're on.
It sounds like the real source of your discontent is the difficulty you're having carving out a quiet time when you can be alone with the Lord for prayer and reflection.
I've had some experience with that as well. When I first graduated from college I moved to a big city where I had to get to the subway parking lot by 7 a.m. If I waited till 8 a.m., which is when I really needed to get there to be to work on time, all the parking was gone. I was discouraged and frustrated. I couldn't imagine getting up any earlier than I already was in order to have time to pray and read the Bible before leaving for the parking lot, and having devotions at the office was out of the question — talk about no privacy.
So after a few weeks of frustrated disconnection from the Lord, I figured out that if I took my Bible and my journal and a couple of praise tapes with me in the car, I could have a full hour of "quiet time" all to myself in the parking lot. Most of the commuters were parked and on the train by 7 a.m. and I didn't have to actually board till 8 a.m. Looking back, I know now that those hour-long prayer times were among the most intimate, effective times of worship and communion I've had in my entire spiritual journey.
Often finding enough privacy to be alone with the Lord is a challenge. You have to be creative. Remember Susanna Wesley? She bore 19 children in 21 years, 10 of whom survived infancy. Living in a tiny home, she daily put a shawl over her head, creating her version of alone time with God. I suspect it was less than quiet and certainly not private. But it was there, under her shawl, that she found the wisdom and grace to raise a passel of children, including the spiritual giants John and Charles Wesley.
I suspect few of us face hurdles to "quiet time" anywhere near the ones she overcame. Yet we often give up when challenged by far less. And we suffer spiritual anemia when we don't figure out a way or a time slot to make it happen.
I think that's the source of your lack of direction. Finding and making a way to spend time alone in daily prayer and journaling and listening is the first and most critical step you must take. But it's not just about "quiet" time. It's about the Bible. The more you study and meditate on and memorize God's Word, the more you'll know Him: Who He is, what He's done and what He requires. He has revealed Himself to us through the Bible and as Henry Blackaby teaches in his Experiencing God book, spending time reading and studying His Word is key to discerning where God is moving. That's the first step to being able to join in His activity.
After that, it's a matter of patience and timing.
About your job, it's no small thing that you do already have one. Lots of twentysomethings are in jobs they wouldn't dream of making a career. But this is the decade for learning, as well as exploring your options. Be faithful where you are. This is the time for building a solid track record and respectable resume. As tempting as it may be to look for something more satisfying, a string of short-lived assignments you love is rarely as impressive to future employers as longer-term loyalty. Even if the work is often boring and not your ultimate destination, any job that pays the bills and is legal is honorable. If you let it, the most unlikely job can teach you lots of life lessons.
The best advice I've seen for discovering God's direction for you (in addition to what you find in His word and in your quiet time) is to consider your particular SHAPE. This acronym comes from the following:
- Your Strengths (and spiritual gifts) — how has God gifted you? (Now, Discover Your Strengths offers help in this area as would doing a study of spiritual gifts)
- Heart — what are you passionate about, what motivates you?
- Abilities — what skills have you already learned?
- Personality — are you energized by people or by alone time and are you a fast-paced risk taker or a methodical analyzer?
- Experiences — what is your story; what life experiences have prepared you to help others?
Remember also that the direction you're looking for is bigger than just what you do for a paycheck. The review above can guide in your employment, but is also intended to help you see where you fit into God's work in the church and the world around you — both paid and unpaid.
As you focus on creatively carving out your quiet time and assessing your SHAPE right where you are, I think it will give you a better picture regarding the wisdom of staying with your family or not.
I wish you well,
Copyright 2006 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.