“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1a-3).
“We’re moving on to another candidate.” Thus, a week after my whirlwind tour of a northeastern university in pursuit of a job as a departmental head, I am left feeling low.
In fact, although this is not the first rejection I have received in my six months of unemployment, it is for some reason the worst. After I hung up the phone last night, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I retreated to my bed to sulk.
Rejection is a bummer. How are we supposed to handle it when we get rebuffed?
In my case, I immediately engaged in some serious navel gazing. “What a loser”, I thought.
Of course, at the end of a year in which I have come up empty after persistent job hunting, numerous phone interviews, and some long flights to unusual places, I suppose being depressed is normal. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better.
One of my friends tried to console me last night. “Perhaps you ought to analyze what you are doing during your interviews,” he said.
Good advice I guess. “I TEACH people how to interview”, I told him.
What worries me the most is that there is some inherent characteristic in me that is sabotaging my efforts. I told my pastor as much over lunch yesterday, prior to getting the heave ho last night.
When I told another person that I was a loser, they said,”Well, Jesus isn’t a loser.” While that did direct my thoughts to the proper place (as I will note later), the comment didn’t do anything to boost my own individual self esteem at the time.
As it is Christmas time I have been locating old holiday fare on the tube that might interest me. The other night I watched “Charlie Brown Christmas” for the umpteenth time.
Then I noticed that “White Christmas” was on. I realized that even though I knew the song and was quite aware of the singer Bing Crosby, I had never sat down and watched the thing.
So I did. The film is close to three hours long, but I decided to view it anyway.
I read the synopsis about how two entertainers (Crosby and Danny Kaye) move their show to Vermont to save the hotel of their former World War II general. The state was getting no snow at Christmas and this predicament was killing business. This much of the plot I think I knew already.
To me, however, the real focus of “White Christmas” is not this attempt at helping out a revered old friend. What drew me as I watched was the dynamics of the romance between character Bob Wallace (Crosby) and female singer Betty Haynes , who performs with her sister Judy.
When they first meet, the sincere Betty sees Bob as a cynic. He tells her that everyone in show business has an “angle”. These comments turn her off and they don’t expect to ever see each other again.
However, due to a series of circumstances all four entertainers (Bob and fellow entertainer Phil Davis and the Haynes Sisters) end up at the general’s hotel in Vermont. The girls become part of the show that Wallace and Davis have in mind.
In this setting, Betty comes to admire Bob. She thinks he is a quite self sacrificing man in moving his entire show to Vermont for the sake of his old war friend.
One day the hotel’s nosy housekeeper overhears a conversation between Bob and the well-known TV host Ed Harrison (based on the real Ed Sullivan). During her eavesdropping she hears Ed tell Bob that he will put the whole show on national TV.
The premise behind Ed’s idea is to gain a ton of publicity for Wallace and Davis. Bob turns this offer down, not wanting to dishonor his old general in front of the entire country.
Unfortunately for him, Bob gets shamed instead. The housekeeper hung up before hearing Bob’s refusal to engage in the national TV production. She tells Betty about the plan.
As a result, Betty begins to reject Bob. She is haughty, cold and angry.
Bob can’t figure out what he did wrong. But he still pursues Betty, even when she leaves Vermont for a show in New York.
Bob goes after her and visits the club to try and iron things out. He tells Betty that he knows her “knight in shining armor” has been knocked off his horse, but that he would like him to be back up there. About that time Ed Harrison shows up and the conversation is interrupted.
Eventually the misunderstanding is cleared up. But in the interim Bob has to go through a period of undeserved chastening.
I think the theme of shame is quite appropriate at Christmas. While I know this sounds rather droll amid all the holiday glitter, hear me out.
Think about it. Jesus Christ is living in heaven with His Heavenly Father. Yet, the Scriptures say that He, although being in His very nature God, came to live among us a man.
The apostle Paul tells us to have the same mindset as Jesus. The apostle writes that in becoming a man, Jesus “made Himself nothing”. (Philippians 2: 6:,7)
But He didn’t stop there. Jesus was fully obedient to His Father, keeping His humility and even going to the Cross in the will of God. The result of Jesus’s humiliation was His eventual exaltation as Lord of heaven and earth (v. 8,9).
So when I think of my abasement during my unemployment, what I believe I need to do is look at the big picture. God has a plan in my current low estate.
It has occurred to me this morning that a lot of great people have had to fail before they succeeded:
* Thomas Edison made 10,000 attempts at the light bulb before he invented it.
* Michael Jordan was given the ball 26 times to make the game winning shot and missed.
* Jack Canfield’s hit book Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected by publishers over a hundred times.
* Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was turned down for employment 14 times by law firms.
So I am not the first person to have had a gut check in life. And a lot of the shame and contempt I endure is deserved.
Jesus became a man and died for my sins, yet He did nothing to receive this kind of treatment. In fact, He had behaved just the opposite.
Of course, Jesus didn’t have to like His abasement. But He endured it out of love for His own. With His help, so can I.