Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Thorns of Life

Some days are really hard to get out of bed. You've worked hard all week long and when the weekend finally gets here, it almost seems impossible to round up enough energy to fully wake up. Today was one of those days. This week at work has been a bit tough, to say the least. I've learned so much over the past three months at my new job. I've been through so much-the joy of seeing my first byline, my first front page spread, the feeling of accomplishment after a week of tears working by's been an emotional roller coaster. 

This week I had some unexpected changes occur that basically gave me no time to think, only a call to action to get done what I knew had to be done for the sake of a community of readers who would be very disappointed without their newspapers. I'm proud to say I made it over another hurdle and once again, proved to myself that God will never give me more than I can handle. 

So although it was difficult to brush the sleep from my eyes this morning, I was blessed with a wonderful message at church about the "thorns" every present in each of our lives. So what exactly are thorns? Thorns can be anything, person, event, reoccurring thought that puts negativity into our minds and may pull us further away from God. 

When I took a moment to think about that, I realized I have several thorns in my life that are brought to the surface for me each and every day. Those thorns are perfectionism, worry, anxiety, and criticism. They all kind of walk hand in hand with each other to be honest. With a job as a journalist, I am constantly criticized; by my editor, by my co-workers, by the community. It always seems like those around me are waiting for the moment that I make a mistake to jump at the chance to tell me what I've done wrong or could have done better. Despite that, my biggest critic is actually myself. That's where the other thorns come into play. I constantly worry about what I'm writing, how I'm interviewing, or just how I do my job in general. I've caught myself saying, "You're just not good enough Elyssa," or "You could have done that better..why did you do that?" 

These kinds of doubts pull me further away from God and what I know he gave me the gift to do. I've been writing since before I even knew how. I would sit in the floor with my mother (or anyone that would listen for that matter), and tell them exactly what I wanted to say and have them write it for me. I wanted to document events such as USC football games (and I did), or just what I had felt at a particular time. When other children were playing outside, I was at my Little Tikes desk stapling and coloring a book that I had written. I know that this is where God wants me to be, and I couldn't be more thankful for this gift that he's given me. It opens me up to new worlds of confidence, expression, and just a niche that I can come to whenever I feel the urge or need to do so. 

That's what I was reminded of this morning..that what I sometimes consider a curse of trying to make everything "perfect," is actually a blessing of God using me to shine. I just have to let Him do it. The verses we read from this morning came from 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. I enjoyed The Message version the best which reads: 

"At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, 'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'" 

Although what may seem like a huge weakness to me, God uses each and every day to shine and to make me better person and to help be grow in my faith because of it. This week I'm going to make a conscience effort to appreciate this gift that God has given me and let him shine through my work. I sure am glad that I made the effort to get out of bed this morning :) 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Job Bliss's been 11 months since I used this thing...sooo much has changed since then.  I feel like a totally different person, with different wants, needs, and just aspirations in general. I'm not sure where to begin, but it may be best to just ramble forward. 

Although I of course didn't want to graduate from college, we all know I couldn't postpone the inevitable so 2 weeks after my last post, I indeed graduated from college, Magna Cum Laude (.3 away from Suma)..grrrr...but anyways, I really thought at that point that college was the best time of my life. I was happy and just wasn't ready to let that go.  Boy has God shown me just how wrong I was. College was great, and I'll always think about it fondly, but I've most definitely grown since that point. 

I began with a free lance job..I was told it would turn into something more, but 8 months into it, it was pretty obvious that that was all it would ever be.  In one "normal" weekend, I received news of 3 job openings which seemed to catch my attention.  Because I was comfortable and hating change as usual, I ignored them. 

Two of those said opportunities faded and just kind of got erased, but one in particular nagged me constantly and I always felt sick to my stomach when I thought about it.  An opening at the local newspaper was there and although that's always something I thought I wanted to do, I was "comfortable" with my current job..I enjoyed my freedom of making my own hours and coming/going as I pleased.  I was able to spend time with friends and family without the stress of planning around a typical work schedule.  Little did I know God was about to change my life forever.  

I kept receiving calls from family friends informing me of the newspaper job because everyone knew I needed something full-time, and that it was right in my field of study from college.  Finally after talking things through with my best friend, I decided to apply..I mean, what could it hurt? 

My resume received a call back, and from there I proceeded to drive an hour away to an interview which seemed like a lot of work for a job I wasn't even really sure I wanted, but I went anyways.  The worst thing that could happen was that I didn't get the job and that I would stay just where I was currently which I was comfortable with.  There goes that word again.."comfortable." I feel as though God hates that word, especially in our faith.  If we're comfortable, and never willing to take a risk, then how can we ever do what He wants us to do?  

I'm sure you can all see where this story seems to be heading. I was offered the newspaper reporter position.  I happily accepted the job. It was full-time, with a normal pay schedule (unlike my free lance work), and I felt like I had nothing to lose. I started this week, and boy is everything NOTHING like I expected.  My communications professors could tell me every hour in college that the journalism world was fast-paced and crazy, but until you actually live it like I am now, you have no idea how much that statement is correct.  

My job is not a normal 8:30-5 job. Some days I have to go in super early to meet a deadline, while other days I must stay hours after the other employees have left in order to make edits, write articles, etc. And that's just been my experience this week! My lunch hour is never planned (that is if I even have time for one) and I have no sort of schedule other than the council meetings I'm in charge of covering. 

I've been a planner all my life.  I like order.  I hate spontaneity. I want things just so, and I want them done ahead of time. God certainly has a sense of humor. He gave me the gift, and the passion to be a writer, a reporter, a journalist- basically, the one job that doesn't give me a scheduled ANYTHING. Ironic, huh? And even though I've already worked over my allotted hours for this week and it's Thursday, I could not be more happy.  Each night when I get home, exhausted, and sometimes grumpy, I still go to sleep with a smile on my face because tomorrow brings a whole new day of surprises and opportunities.  My days are never the same, and never will be. And I love that. I couldn't be happier.  I guess God was able to get through my thick skull after all.  Well, until then..this has been Elyssa Parnell, signing off ;) 

"Choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." - Confucius   

(I couldn't agree more) :)