Dear RA/AC Applicant,
This letter is a little uncouth, I'll admit.
From what I've gathered in my limited post-grad job experience, a commonly held belief in the professional world is that the success of an application process is closely tied with the level of discretion you maintain throughout it.
In other words, if you're the interviewer, don't reveal too much of your humanity. Don't tell the person sitting across from you anything beyond "Thank you for your time. You'll hear back from us by _______." And certainly don't break the silence hovering over the selection period with a blog post on musings from your perspective, your side of the long mahogany table.
I think there's good reason for discretion. You didn't show up 10 minutes before your scheduled time wearing a tie and a button-down bought by your mother to hear me rattle on about philosophy and timing and how it'll all work out in the end.
I promise, I'm not writing to tell you that.
I'm writing because out of all the experiences I've had as a first year Resident Director, the summer trainings and the staff meetings and the late-night-into-early-morning conversations, this past week was the one that brought it home for me. Every morning I woke up 2 hours earlier than normal (which wasn't nearly as painful as I thought), made coffee, picked an outfit from my closet that would put the "is she a student or is she on staff?" question to rest, and I listened.
What I heard was nothing short of amazing, and I'm writing to mirror that back to you.
I want you to pause for a moment and see yourself the way we did, courageous and hopeful, full of conviction and vulnerability, so much more than one job application and fifteen references could ever capture.
We are all on a journey of reconciliation with God. Of course, not everyone would explain the whole of human history quite like that, but that's the way I see it in Scripture and in my own life. We've been wrestling with God since the garden and the snake and the fruit we never should've touched. It's that vast and that unbelievable and I'd be bluffing if I forgot to say how difficult it is to step inside those plot lines. The story is difficult. So difficult that sometimes we focus on our daily drama instead and lose sight of ourselves as characters within the overarching epic.
What I mean is, getting this job is not the end all be all for you.
It is an awesome way to serve God, to grow as a human being, and to love your neighbor as yourself. People have likened it to being a "professional Christian," which I personally think is a terrible choice of words, but I guess that title does sort of get at what sets the Residence Life staff apart from other positions on campus. What we believe should be as real as what we do. But when your "office" is the desk in your dorm room and your "clients" are your floor mates, it only takes one late night knock on the door to realize how prone we are to fall asleep in the face of our beliefs, like disciples at Gethsemane.
[You're actually the one that said that, not me: "I know it may sound cliche, and I hate cliches, but I'm applying because I want to glorify Christ though my actions."]
You may be hired or you may not be. The reasons why aren't always clear, even if we could sit down together over coffee and talk them through with pie charts and bar graphs and bullet-point lists.
But please, don't let our decision change what you know about yourself; those strengths and weaknesses we asked you to articulate during the course of our conversation. And don't let it change what you know about God; how after years of running, you finally came to rest in the place where His presence dwells. How the small prayers you say and the devotional you read (almost) every morning is like manna in the wilderness.
Don't place your hope in this job.
Place it in the story you shared with four or five strangers who wrote notes and sipped coffee and sometimes teared up as you talked. Place it in the prayer you uttered while you sat outside the interview room, a minute before we called your name. Place it in the way the snow covers every square inch of our campus, and the God who uses that covering as an image of our forgiveness.
I would hire all 150 of you if I could, but sometimes God diversifies your portfolio. Sometimes He finds other ways to let the light in. Sometimes what sounds like a "no" is really a "yes" to the possibility of a better thing, and sometimes what sounds like a "yes" is really a "no" to all you expect to learn and hope to be in this job. The answer is not the point.
When you get a thin envelope in your mailbox a few weeks from now, take a moment before you open it. Close your eyes and remember the table, the way we all fit around it, and the promise that we will again someday soon-at a feast laid out for us by a King.
This all works out to a brilliant feast in the end.
I guess I was writing to tell you that after all.