I’ve got a new job in Philadelphia

In May 2009, I decided to drop out of seminary (for many reasons). Then employment drama ensued. I got a job, couldn’t start the job, then got a part-time position at the company, and then was finally able to move into the full-time spot I was originally hired for.

And it’s been wonderful. Over the past year and half, I was able to love my caseload of people and take them from broken and with nothing to on the path towards healing and recovery. I actually got to see change and growth up close–and it changed me.

But, it’s time to move on. As I’ve been praying for for a while, I recently got offered a job that is walking distance from my house. I finally get to realize my desire to not only live and spend my money in the city, but also to earn my money and serve the residents there as well.
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For those wondering how my job is going . . .

unemployment. . . well, it’s not.

In May, I wrote about my journey in looking for a job.A month and half later(ish) I wrote of having found a job.My start date was July 1st.

But July 1st was the appointed day for another reason: it was the official first day of a new fiscal year for many companies, churches, and governments (federal, state, and local), therefore, of course, it was the day that new 2009 budgets went into effect all across the country.

Well, at least, when those budgets were supposed to go into effect.

The State of Pennsylvania is embroiled in an ever-increasingly heated battle over its State Budget that was supposed to be done and go in effect July 1st.The company I got my job with gets most of its money from the State Health Department, so this poses a problem for them, seeing as the State Health Department has no 2009 money allocated to them by an effective budget to give to my company any money to hire me – so they’re under a hiring freeze.Did that all make sense?

So, in short, I’ve been waiting for over a month for Pennsylvania to pass its own budget, after which I can start my job.Assuming of course that my usual luck doesn’t come into play and my job decides to drop me for some reason.I don’t know.Pray this doesn’t happen.It seems the budget problem is this: there’s a huge gap in the budget between income and expenses.So they either need to get more money or make more cuts.The Governor has suggested a very small increase to the income tax to cover this, but Republicans have cried foul.Democrats have said they’re not “wedded” to the idea of a tax increase and are open to any ideas, but Republicans have been both unable to suggest any new ideas and unwilling to make any cuts in their various localities, insisting further cuts happen at the State level.So, tax increases are being forbidden, no new ideas being brought forth, no new cuts being suggested, and no one willing to budge.Therefore, I have a job, but don’t – all at the same time.

It’s an excellent object lesson in the angst and tension in the Biblical idea of things “already being accomplished, but not yet fully realized”.By the way, last Friday was the last day State employees were actually getting paid.now they’re getting I.O.U.’sUgh.

I am trying to find odd jobs to hold me over, but may be looking for a more stable job here shortly, and eventually if I need to, I may look somewhere else entirely for a “real” job (any ideas or possible work is more than appreciated).I hope I don’t have to move on, for as I have said, this job is my dream position, but if I need to, I need to.

God certainly deals with us strangely, confusingly, and mercifully. So much opportunity in this time of “unemployment” to draw near to my God and serve are currently being wasted day to day due to my inherent lack of discipline. He really desires more of me in this time, and I fear I haven’t taken advantage of these moments to learn my neediness and His presence.Pray I learn these lessons well in the “already but not yet”.

And pray that Pennsylvania passes a flippin’ budget already (and that I still have a job waiting for me when they do)!

The Big News II (I’m not leaving Philly, it seems)

I, Paul Burkhart, now have a real job.

Like, a real real one.

Yesterday, I was accepted for a position at a program called Project Transition as a “Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor” (assuming that my background checks clear, of course. Until then, I can’t actually say I’m “hired” per se, I’m still a “candidate”). In short, this is my dream job. I will have a case load of about 5 individuals recovering from various mental disorders who I will pour into their lives trying to help them reintegrate into society. I will teach classes to everyone in the program on various parts of living life healthily. I will be doing assessments and creating treatment plans for my case load. The people I will work with seem amazing. Benefits kick in after only a month. It’s really good pay (at least for an entry level job). I will even have my own office space (and desk!).

The philosophy of the organization is right in line with mine: that people are not defined by their disease. They are fundamentally healthy individuals struggling with a disorder, rather than the view that would treat them as primarily disordered individuals struggling for health. It was so exciting sitting there as they told me everything about the organization. That reminds me, the interview itself was strange too. It was one of those weird circumstances that seems to surreal and – for lack of a better word – supernatural. In the entire interview I didn’t say more than a couple of sentences. They didn’t really ask me many questions. It was more like “hey, this is who we are. Wanna join us?”. It was so strange. I have the weakest resume one could imagine. I have waiting tables at Applebee’s and tutoring elementary school students on there and that’s it. Hardly the resume to get someone a professional counseling job. But nevertheless, I walked in, and the founder of the organization had made one of his monthly visits to this particular site just to interview me. When I got there, everyone already knew my name and who I was. When the founder had to leave the interview early and leave me with the site coordinators, he had the secretary send down paperwork to hire me, even before the interview was actually over! (Running the risk of sounding overly charismatic or Osteen-ish) I felt like I was walking in “supernatural favor”. Or something like that.

So what does all this mean? Well firstly, even though I loved and adored my time in Richmond the past few weeks and really wanted to move back there, it seems that God has intended for me to have longer-term plans for Philly. This job really is something I’m going to want to stay at for awhile. The people I will be around, the experiences I’ll get, and the real-word education I’ll receive (all while still taking WTS counseling classes) will be invaluable to me. So I’m here to stay, it seems. This would probably have been a problem a couple months ago, but recently Philadelphia has opened up to me (specifically South Philly) and I have met so many people I really want to live life deeply with for a while longer before moving on (not to mention my biggest bromances are here and here. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you, you, and you).

So here’s to God for blessing me far more than I could ever imagine. I pray this drives me further to Him and doesn’t make me feel like I don’t need him now. Because I do. I’ve definitely been seeing that greatly the past few weeks, and this has been the first little ray of light to burst out from the haze I’ve been in.

Philly, here I stay.