So, let’s recap for those who haven’t read my first blog entry. (Mega-thank you to the three of you that did!)
Scientist. Journalist. Advertising executive.
And we’ll add actor to the list of things that I DIDN’T become now that I’m an “adult”.
What I am is an associate at a Circle K in Akron. (Trust me. This was not even close to a plan!) In January of 2015, I packed my whole life into a Chevy Impala and drove thirteen hours alone from Spartanburg, SC. And I knew nothing more than that was the place God wanted me. My parents were concerned at the very least. (Could you blame them?) But hey I had a car and a “guaranteed” job, right? (Catch those quotation marks?) So first the job fell through. Eh. No big deal. Just hopped in the car and hit the application hustle. After months, I was still unemployed and frustrated. (I have the journal entry to prove it.) Then out of sheer rebellion and disobedience I was out of a vehicle. But God was merciful enough to give me a job within walking distance. I was thinking Subway, but God said Circle K. I was grateful at that point just to be employed. (Some of you probably remember the video of me dancing to Shake It Off and I Want It That Way! Yes, THAT excited!)
Let me say I am no stranger to jobs of “convenience”. While we are being forthcoming, I’m also a college dropout. (There it is. Jesus still loves me.) So, without a degree I’ve made it super easy to find minimum wage jobs. I’ve had a range. McDonald’s, golf course, DISH, strip club, Denny’s, Adidas, Salvation Army, and Harbor Freight Tools. Each of these jobs seemed to be “last-ditch efforts”. They have been jobs I doubted I could do but was “lucky” to get. And yes I struggled in these places. Mainly because I didn’t know my identity in Christ or what I was called to do. There were physical challenges but more importantly and evidently spiritual ones. In my first factory job at Adidas, I WAS MISERABLE!!! I HATED MY JOB!!! I was lost and didn’t know if I could ever get out. Or if Jesus would let me out. Everyone else seemed to have a job they loved and got paid well to do. I was getting treated like a work animal with no essential purpose. I had no ministry, no fellowship, or any friends who would understand. After a while the fake smile turned into a scowl and I was just another angry fish in a sea of negativity.
But God, being loving and merciful, met me and revealed to me who I really was. That I couldn’t be like everyone else. I had to be that light he called me to be. It took a lot of prayer and constant worship in intimacy to overcome. But when I did not only did he change my heart but also my reputation. I went from being a laughingstock to a model of productivity. And I was known as one of two joyful people in a factory of people. I’m grateful because in that period I learned how to walk alongside those who struggled while being an example of faith and joy. It also introduced me to my life as an evangelist. I got to know people. Also, I was praying for a job with customers. Where I could be a better fit. I believed He would provide this as well as a family. (I wrote my family’s names and reminders of why I was working on box lids. I got sooo much teasing for it!)It kept me focused and strong. (Still does! And yes I have names and a Pinterest board for them!!! Go check.)
(Apology. I didn’t mean to explain my life at Adidas in detail like that. It’s just hard not to when it was an important part of my testimony dealing with depression. And the topic is work so…Wait. I’m not sure on the blog length rules either! (Feel free to comment any insight on that.)
ANYWAY…In every job, amidst the pain was purpose. (Ooh. That’s good.) God always led me to at least one person who needed me to spend time with or minister to. Many times they had similar issues I was able to give insight on. A lot of times prayer was required because they were total a…”personal growth coaches”. (I had to coin the phrase so my “Christianity card” wouldn’t be revoked. And no I don’t think of people as donkeyholes anymore.) They’ve challenged me and caused me to pray unusual and real prayers. God wrecked my heart for others. I learned patience. I paralleled my relationships with mine with Christ. (Still do.) I always strived to keep an open relationship because I never knew how much I would be involved in their lives. And I’m happy to say that I’m friends with at least one person from every job I’ve had. I do my best to share their lives (mostly on FB). To let them know I still care and that I’m still here for them no matter what. This includes some atheists and even people who have cursed Jesus and one who has caused me physical injury. But they know they can come to me for strength, encouragement , and prayer.
Ok. I’m calling it. It’s like 6:30 and I’m not nearly done. (My alarm goes off in about an hour.) And I have an eight hour day ahead. So while I didn’t get to my original point, I hope you can be encouraged by my story. I will continue with the theme of purpose and hopefully explain more directly in the subsequent post. And if you made it this far…(You’re awesome!)
—Thank you VERY MUCH for reading this!!!—
Jason Thomas Blakley