From 2006-2010 I worked both part-time and full-time as a writer, mainly for newspapers and freelancing for magazines and educational curriculum. After writing The Hardin County News (a weekly newspaper near Beaumont, TX) for a year by myself, it was time to make some career decisions.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love my job; I did. I loved being a reporter. I loved meeting people and writing their stories. I just wanted more. I wanted to advance the Kingdom of God with my writing skills, and I was just too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to write at home, so I changed careers.
I began to work in youth programming (think youth ministry in the secular setting). What a different field! I wasn’t prepared for the scatter-brained-craziness of youth programming. I wanted all of the games and files and paperwork to be organized. I quickly learned that typical youth workers are not organized. They are very fun, but they are not organized. It didn’t take long, less than 10 months, for me to realize I was in the wrong job for my personality and temperament.
I went on to be a volunteer coordinator for another youth program. It was a little better because I was mainly in the office and I could organize to my heart’s content. I also had the opportunity to use my writing, editing, and PR skills to advance the youth ministry, plus it was a Christian organization and I liked the people I worked with. The job didn’t last though, the grant funding fell through and my part-time job soon ended.
I began to pray for a job. I needed one, desperately. I went on a 40-day Daniel Fast which was to end on my 28th birthday. Two weeks before the fast was over, I was offered a full-time job as an Education Advisor for the military, making more than double my previous full-time job. I knew it was an answer to prayer.
Two weeks into my new job the problems started. It wasn’t the job; I was a perfect fit for the work and I loved it. It was a co-worker with an insecurity problem. She began to gossip, a lot. Every time I was around her, she began to speak negatively about others we worked with. I continued to be friendly, but began to avoid her. She was toxic. To top it off, she was the boss’s pet. I don’t know why he liked her, she talked bad about him too. I think he was just too oblivious to notice. He didn’t seem to care about work, only about church (he attended my church).
It wasn’t long until he informed me that my co-workers “didn’t understand my personality” – whatever that meant. He made odd requests such as, “Don’t eat your lunch with the lower people.” And, “talk to [the mean-gossip-girl] about your personal life because it will make her feel good to give you advice.” And, “You need to be more humble.” These requests made me extremely uncomfortable and I didn’t know what to do. I continued to be myself, stood up for myself as needed, and continued to focus on my job.
It didn’t matter how good I was at my job, those two hated me, or maybe they just hated themselves and took it out on me. I guess it was because they couldn’t bully me into being afraid of them. I don’t know why they hated me. Both the mean-girl and the boss stopped speaking. I would say, “Good morning,” and they would ignore me. It was a difficult circumstance to work in and I often wondered why God put me in that situation, surrounded by people who hated me.
When my year contract ended, I was told I was laid off due to budget cuts and restructuring of the program. My position turned from a government position to a contract position. I was told I was not eligible to apply for my job because I only had one year of experience and the new position required two years of experience. He ended up hiring a girl with NO experience, and I was left to job search.
Despite the difficult circumstances, God did provide. I was unemployed for three months and then I began a part-time job and continued to receive unemployment. During that time I finished writing and publishing Angel: The True Story of an Undeserved Chance, and I set up OWL of Hope as a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
Just before my unemployment ran out, God provided a full-time job at the library. The people were the nicest people I’ve ever worked for. The job was both administrative and public relations; it wasn’t the perfect work for my personality the way education advising was, but it was doable, and the people made all the difference. I have never worked for people who expressed their sincere appreciation for me the way that the people at the Library did.
I was there for 6 months before my other part-time job ended. I couldn’t afford to continue renting my house and paying all of my bills on just the library pay. I had searched for a roommate for the two years I lived there, and no one ever worked out. I had applied for over 300 jobs while on unemployment and received only three interviews. I felt like I didn’t have a choice but to quit my library job, pack my belongings, and go stay with my parents for a while. I’m thankful I had that option.
So, here I am. I’m working full-time from my parents’ house job searching. Discouraged and praying for a break through. The first two weeks I focused a lot on OWL of Hope, upgrading my blog and website, and starting an email marketing system. It was through my first OWL of Hope newsletter that I received an answer to prayer. One of my dad’s old college pals was on my email list, and he is now a corporate recruiter.
He helped me update my resume to focus my job search promoting myself as a technical writer. He gave me words of wisdom and spoke encouragement and faith into my life. In the process of my job-search make-over, I created a new blog to feature a few writing samples from my past: http://rachaelhartman.wordpress.com
I don’t know what God has in store for my next job, but I do know that God has a plan. He always makes a way, even through unemployment, food-stamps and standing in line for help with my electric bill (I experienced it all before landing the job with the mean-girl & nutty boss).
I have to admit, I’m anxious about finding a new job. What will I encounter next? Will have an escape plan if things don’t work out? What if I have to relocate and then I’m bullied again? What if I burn out writing all of the time and can’t continue to pursue my dreams with OWL of Hope?
I watched a simple online clip this morning from FitLifeTV’s Juice with Drew; it was all about eliminating anxiety. His message said anxiety is eliminated when we change our focus from “What can I get” (or, in my case “What will happen to me), to a new mindset of “What can I give to bring value to others?” His message touched my heart and convicted me of my attitude.
It’s so easy to be caught up in worrying about money, insurance, relationships, what will happen to my family, etc… But God promised in His Word that He would provide and that we shouldn’t think about what we need tomorrow because He provides daily (Matt. 6:31).
So, here it is January 8, 2014. I’m two days into a 21-day Daniel Fast with my parents and many other Christians around the world. I don’t know God’s plan, but I have faith that during this fast He will open the doors He wants me to walk through. He knows what I need and He knows how much I can handle. He also knows what He wants to happen with OWL of Hope.
The main thing that I keep thinking over and over is that whatever job I go to next, whatever door God opens, I want my life to bring glory to God and to enhance the Kingdom of God through my work and my life. I may not have the opportunity to write another testimony book this year, but I might just make a friend with someone who needs encouragement and the hope of Christ.
Rachael Hartman is an experienced writer and author. She has worked as a full-time newspaper reporter, and as a freelance contributor to magazines. She writes high school Sunday school material for Word Aflame Press as well as lessons for Project 7 (P7) student-led Bible Clubs, and blogs for Lady by Design. She enjoys health and exercise, reading, art, and playing with her two dogs Darla and Danny. She owns Our Written Lives of Hope, an online bookstore and publishing house in which she helps others share the message of the hope of Jesus Christ and promotes holistic health. Check out her web site at www.owlofhope.com and link to her on Facebook.
© Rachael Hartman 2014