A True Story

Here’s a short (true) story about faithfulness, the dignity of all work, and the freedom that comes at work when you trust God. I was encouraged by it and think you might be too.

“Jesus is Better” Edit: This link is now broken, so I have copied the text of the post below.

If you would like to share your story of faithfulness at work, or have seen other examples around the net, please drop me a line at taskandtoil@gmail.com.

It all started when I was 12 and my grandmothers started teaching me how to sew.

I loved the idea of getting to make my own clothes and loved coming up with crazy outfits for the celebrities I saw on television. My mom and I started attending the University of Texas fashion show every year and it became clear to me that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to study fashion design at the University of Texas. I wanted to have a collection walk down the runway. I wanted to be a famous fashion designer. So, I set down that path. My senior year rolled around and I designed my collection and saw it go down the runway. I even won Most Marketable Collection. But there was one difference that my 12 year old self did not foresee. I was married. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married and I love my husband more than anything, but I didn’t have the freedom to move to New York that I thought I would have when I graduated college. That last piece of the puzzle, becoming a famous fashion designer, was going to be a lot harder to achieve if I stayed in Austin.

Here I was, married, graduated, and on my own. I needed to get a job to help pay our bills, so I started working at Chico’s. This felt like a major blow to me. I was so embarrassed and so ashamed that this is what I was doing with my life. Ultimately, Chico’s wasn’t able to give me enough hours, so I got a full time job as a receptionist for a construction company.

Fashion to construction was definitely not what I envisioned for myself.

To make matters worse, the first question anyone asks when you meet them is, “What do you do?” Anytime anyone asked me that question I was so embarrassed. Not outwardly, but I was dying on the inside. About every six months or so, I usually spiraled into a breakdown about how much I hated my job, or about how unfulfilling it was, or how if I could just do something creative I would be happier. My husband started to notice the pattern and that I wasn’t actually making any changes. I just seemed to be putting a band aid over the top of my issues and not addressing them head on. As we started digging deeper, I began to discover how much I found my identity in people’s approval.

My desire for approval was so deep that I felt like I didn’t know who I was if people weren’t proud of the work I was doing or didn’t think I had a cool job.

This theme of having a “cool” job kept coming back over and over. I know that might seem a little silly, but I so desperately wanted people to look at me with approving eyes and say, “Man, Jill has such a cool job.”

With the help of husband and my community, I actually began to fight instead of just letting myself be the victim. God really began changing my heart and showing me that my identity as his daughter, the daughter of the Most High King, is so much greater than any identity this world can offer me. It is better than having a cool job. It is better than having all of the world’s approval. Philippians 3: 8 started to make more sense to me when it says “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus my Lord.”

Jesus is better.

He is better than the approval of those I admire most. He is better than a cool job. He is better than all the success I could ever achieve. All of those things are loss when compared to knowing Jesus. That shift in thinking was a huge step for me, but still something I had to fight to believe every day. I did begin seeing my way of thinking change. I started talking more positively about my job and was able to admit fairly confidently that I worked for a construction company. I started to appreciate the benefits that my office job gave me and realized how much I loved the people I worked with.

In January of 2014, I decided I wanted to start pursuing a career in styling. This desire came from a much healthier place than it would have previously. I saw my opportunities start to grow and was actually really thankful that I had a full time job that allowed me flexibility and stability while trying this out. In Feb 2015, the company where I worked filed for bankruptcy and shut its doors. I had no idea that was going to happen and it was quite a shock. It is kind of funny to me when I look at it.

The time when I appreciated my job the most is when it was taken away.

I can’t help but think that this is God’s way of saying “Okay, Jill, do you really trust me?”

He could have taken my job away when I wanted him to, he could have given me the stability of finances until I proved myself a successful stylist. But His timing is good and perfect.

I look back at the last four years and I wouldn’t trade the things God has taught me for a cooler job. He has grown me in ways I would have never been able to grow if he had given me what I wanted. This is proof to me that sometimes I might not see what God is doing in a moment, but that his plans are so much better than mine.

He is trustworthy.

He is better.

This post originally appeared here.