“So what made you want to work here?” This is a common question I’m asked whenever I give tours here at the shelter – and one which I am always delighted to answer. I usually start out by stating something like this: “Well, I didn’t exactly want to work here, but God placed me here.” After a second of silence – since this isn’t usually what people were expecting to hear from a staff member – I follow up with, “Let me tell you.”
So let me tell you.
In December of 2015, I had just completed a Master’s Degree in Environment, Development, and Peace from the United Nations Mandated University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica and had wrapped up my three month internship in Mexico City, Mexico with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean and had begun applying to jobs. With tons of international experience, having mastered a second language, a Master’s degree under my belt, AND real-life experience, AND even some published research, I expected to find a job in my field – something related to international development or the environment- pretty easily and pretty quickly. In fact, I was so confident in my resume that I was sure that I would get to choose where I wanted to work because everyone would want to hire me.
I had never been more wrong in my entire life.
I spent the next 5 months on the computer almost daily writing cover letters, editing my resume, and applying for jobs. And this became my full-time job. I quickly lost count of how many jobs I must have applied to but I estimate that I had applied to at least 80 different jobs and all over the world – Canada, the US, the Philippines, Chile, Kenya, everywhere. And nothing. Well, actually I did get something. I had one interview. For an internship. But then never heard back.
I couldn’t believe what was happening and it didn’t make sense to me at all. I did everything I was supposed to, everything that was supposed to guarantee a good paying job that I would love and be able to incorporate all that I had studied. So I began to feel what I’m sure every Christian has felt at some point in their walk with Christ – forgotten about. In my frustration and anguish, I asked God repeatedly if He knew what He was doing up there. Yes. I asked God if He knew what He was doing. Then, when I became angered at His lack of a response, I asked Him – half seriously and half sarcastically – what He wanted me to do and by that, I meant if He actually expected me to go back to school and get another bachelor’s degree. I actually asked Him that. Oh yeah, I was also married and had an infant by this time. During this time of uncertainty and confusion, I cried out a lot to God as I struggled to hold on to His promise (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28).
But even in my unfaithfulness, He remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
A series of ‘God-incidences’ (that’s Christian for events that were purposefully designed and carried out according to God’s divine plan because we don’t believe in coincidences) events led my husband and I to meet someone who worked at the shelter. It was so random that it had God written all over it. Not only did this person happen to be from the same small country as my husband – so they became instant friends – it just so happened that we were also looking for a church in Calgary since we had recently relocated from Airdrie. Of course he happened to attend one in the northeast where we also lived and of course he invited us and of course we went.
That’s how God works. Randomly yet perfectly, appearing late but always on time.
We attended service the next day and of course, fell in love with the church. After the service, the person who had invited us shared with me that he worked at The Mustard Seed Shelter (TMSS) and that they were hiring. I politely thanked him for the information but said that I would hold out a bit longer for several applications that I had recently put out. Haha! I never heard back so after another three weeks I decided to apply to TMSS even though I was unsure if I would even be considered given that most of my experience was helping people overseas with no focus on those with mental illness or addictions. My first attempt was unsuccessful but for some reason this guy from the shelter, who I still hadn’t known all that well, decided that he really wanted to help me and so with his help, I finally landed an interview. It was a last-minute interview so I really wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been but guess what?! That interview happened to be the best darn interview I had ever done and I walked out sure that finally, I would get at least a callback. And I did. I was eventually hired and when I started working at the shelter it quickly all began to make sense.
He had wanted me here this whole time.
All those months of stress, worry, frustration, and tears, it was all for this – and it was so worth it! Almost as soon as I began working at the shelter I began to see God’s plan for me unrolling as He had me step out of my comfort zone again and again and I felt my faith growing exponentially. He had me doing things like praying with guests in public spaces and speaking about Jesus like I had never quite been able to do before and I relied on Him during every second of it. I realized that He wanted me to serve Him here. Despite the fact that I had disqualified myself for the position due to my distinct academic background, God had long ago qualified me for it on the basis of my servitude and obedience. That was all that He wanted of me and He did the rest. On top of the faith piece, I loved every aspect of the job: the dynamism, getting to interact with others constantly, making a tangible positive impact in the lives of others, being on my feet a lot, learning and being challenged daily, and getting to pray on a regular basis with my colleagues. It was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it. Of course I begged God for forgiveness for being such a punk but I also continue to thank Him, to this very day, for making me go through all that I did because looking back, it makes the journey all the more sweeter now. It was truly such a humbling experience because I learned that we can have our plan for our lives but God always has His and the hard part is trying to align our hearts with His but in the end, His plan is always way better anyways (Proverbs 19:21; Ephesians 3:20).
Two and a half years later I am just as enamoured with my job as I was when I first started and God continues to use me in new, exciting and challenging ways. And the person who God used to help me in the beginning is now one of my best friends.
Of course when I tell this story to my tour group, I shorten it considerably. But I love being asked this question because of the opportunity it affords me in being able to share how very grateful I am to God for having placed me at the shelter and for the chance that I get to tell others that I have the best job in the world.
All praise and glory to God.