The day I left my job at NewSpring, Katelyn knocked on my door with a bag full of Chick-Fil-A stress food. I was in shock, not yet as sad as would be, not yet feeling anything. I believe I cried a bit, but nothing like what would come.
I lived in a condo on Lake Hartwell and the living room faced the water. Katelyn sat on one couch, me on the other. I remember staring at the water. I just remember looking through the trees at the water.
I worked at NewSpring for nearly eight years. I tight-fisted that idol-job until it broke me. I sported the self-inflicted wounds of pride, perfectionism, fear and I can still smell the relational carnage I left in my wake.
Now, here we were on a day in mid-March watching the sunset over the water, taking the tiniest steps toward healing. Food wrappers littered around and the light fading away, Katelyn broke a silence.
“Do you want an easy life or do you want a better story?”
“A better story,” I said.
After NewSpring, I was unemployed for two long years. The difficulty of that time is for another post but it was a brutal fight that left me with a lasting limp. I was eventually hired and worked only six months when the company I had come to adore decided to close its doors.
We got the closing news in a morning meeting and sitting with friends who would have their lives changed too, I could feel soul tighten up. My body returned to survival mode – scarcity, turn in, lock up. I was numb and careless for a few weeks, shooting off as many resumes as I could as fast as I could, believing foolishly I could somehow eek out another opportunity if I just flooded the job market. There would be no skipped paychecks. Everything will be fine. Everything’s going to be fine.
In recent weeks the leads dried up, I found errors on the resume I sent out so hastily (no wonder no one wanted to hire me) and the tears have come. Waves of memories of pinching pennies, declining out-to-eat invitations, the loneliness of struggling through something no one seems to understand, those waves came back and I’ve shelled up.
The hard is back just a short time past the last fight, wounds still fresh. Like a boxer with blackened eyes, cracked ribs and a bloody nose who was pushed back into the ring in no condition to fight.
I take it back
I want an easy life. I want a different story.
Here are the questions I’m asking:
Was I not thankful enough for the job I had?
Did I not learn enough lessons from being unemployed? Did I miss something?
Did I not change enough?
And on and on.
I’ve cussed, screamed and nearly put my fist through a glass coffee table. Just last evening I had nightmares so severe they’ve haunted me all day.
But I’m not running away. I’m not fleeing faith. I’ve shaken my fist and asked those questions of the only one who can answer them. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve cried hot, frustrated tears.
But I’m not leaving.
The only way, the ONLY way I will make it is by praying brutally honest prayers, “Here I am. I’m angry and defeated. I don’t have a heart full of faith or anything else right now and honestly, I’m not sure I truly trust you to come through, but I’m not walking away. You are stuck with me in my current condition so either I will need to change or my circumstances will. More than likely both. But I will wrestle this and you all the way to the ground even if I come out worse for wear.”
And so we go, God and I. We fight the brutal fight – both ugly and beautiful. I will limp into eternity, having cashed in every ounce of faith, mangled and bruised.
If you want a sweet, small talk anecdote, I’m not your person. If you want the honest truth of being in the fight of my life, then I have a story to tell you. I do believe God is making all things new – me among them. But, I will not only speak the truth about the sweet end but also the truth of the fight to believe in the possibility of beauty from ashes, about the better story of the bloody middle.