God does not waste experience.
It was a fact I had been reminded of countless times throughout my senior year of college and as I graduated. Whenever I opened up to someone about my struggle to find a job, the same person would look at me and say, “Caitlin, remember, God doesn’t waste experience.” Ladies and gentlemen, add that to the list of things not to tell a 22-year-old unemployed post-grad. It’s a beautiful truth, but in the midst of the struggle, it feels more like a mockery than a hope-inspiring truth about God. It’s been ten months since I graduated from college, and just this week have I started to really see how this truth has become true in my life.
In college, I spent a lot of time encouraging other college students to fill out surveys, I called these college students who were even the tiniest bit interested in Jesus and tried to meet up with them for coffee. In the CRU world, this is known as following-up. Over a cup of coffee, usually at the Starbucks in the union, I would ask the college student, often times a girl in a sorority, or a freshman girl, about her life, her spiritual background and her thoughts on God. Key during these interactions was listening. Before sharing anything about me, I would ask for permission to do so… Or so I was supposed to do. I longed to see the women across the table from me arrive at a new understanding of God on their own, seeing Jesus with their own eyes, not through the eyes of my own experiences.
Watching a woman “get it,” or understand God in a new way was the highlight of my weeks. So much so that I was mad that God did not call me into vocational ministry with CRU at the end of my senior year. I loved ministry. I was good at ministry. I loved being authentic, I loved planning bible studies, I loved watching lives changed by Jesus. I spent my sophomore and junior years of college telling people I was going to join staff with CRU. But The Call never came. As I left Bloomington in May, part of me started to believe that my experiences were a waste. I didn’t have a job and I felt as though the skills I developed as a student involved in CRU would not translate into a job.
I remember being so discouraged after an interaction with a pastor at my parents’ church that I sat in my car and cussed out God. The f-word went flying. I could not understand why God had cultivated such unique skills in me during college and yet I could not find a place willing to utilize such important skills. I was confused and losing hope. I did the only thing that sounded good at the time – I drove home and ate ice cream right out of the carton at 10:30 in the morning.
Fast forward to January 2014. After a couple months of working with and tracking prospective adoptive families, my boss called me into her office. During our talk, we decided that instead of sending emails, I was going to pick up the phone and start calling families. This idea was great in theory, but by the time I had returned to my front office desk and picked up the phone to start dialing, I had a pit in the bottom of my stomach. Fear of rejection filled my thoughts. “But wait,” I said to my co-worker, “I’ve done this before. When I was involved in CRU at IU, I would call girls to follow-up.” As the words came out of my mouth I started to laugh.
At the beginning of February, I sat in a business development meeting at work listening to my boss and co-workers think through where I can be growing as a company. As a member of the business development team, I am now in charge of community outreach; the very essence of what got me involved in CRU as a freshman. During this meeting, I was taken back to Friday afternoon servant team meetings when the CRU leaders would talk about how we could better reach the IU campus. I said a silent prayer of thanks and did my best to participate in the meeting.
On Friday, I sat down with a co-worker and we were talking through some of the hang-ups families have before the take the leap and begin the adoption process. She reminded me how important it is to ask whoever it may be questions and to ask permission before sharing my opinion. The light went on in my head yet again.
I always knew that my experience with CRU at IU would come in handy because of the persistence and faith it cultivated in me. Even when things were rough and I was tempted to walk away, God would remind me that He was moving in my life and in the lives of those around me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that God truly doesn’t waste even the smallest of experiences. My job requires me reach out to new people. It requires me to pick up the phone to speak with people who may not be sold on ideas I want to speak with them about. It requires me to follow-up with people, invite them to events and introduce them to a new story line in their lives, one that will alter their families and others.
Much has changed in the last ten months, but much has stayed the same. One thing that has stayed and will remain the same throughout eternity – God does not and will not waste experience.