I noticed this optical beauty while staring at our tree just before taking it down. A reminder of the next big holiday…♥️
I noticed this optical beauty while staring at our tree just before taking it down. A reminder of the next big holiday…♥️
Four days ago, I started a new position at a new company in an entirely unfamiliar field. While I enjoy most “new” things, having a significant training curve ahead has been humbling.
But, God gave me what I asked for.
If you follow this blog, you know that I resigned a position in October and planned to look for something else immediately. We were still recovering from my husband’s late-career job elimination that took place three years earlier, so not working wasn’t an option. Though he became employed at a different company, he took a substantial pay cut.
Two days after my farewell-party at work, I was sworn into two months of jury duty.
When I finally completed my service, the profoundly foolish governor of our state decided we had to remain on-call for six more months, as his stance on Covid believed swearing in another grand jury (as was scheduled) would somehow increase positive cases. The irony is that someone in our two-month group of jurors tested positive one day after our service termed. But I digress…
It was December 1st and after a lot of hubbub in the last several weeks, I decided to shop, wrap, decorate and plan for the blessed holiday. It was the first time in a while that I felt light, excited, eager to nestle in for what I knew would be our last Christmas season all together before one child moves out of state for her job and another will likely be married in the new year. I decided that this Christmas, aside from the Covid-weirdness affecting our normal bigger parties, we would simply be together and I would focus on that for a couple of weeks.
On December 2nd, my husband’s voice held an ominous tone when he called to say that an unexpected conference call in two hours gave the vibe that there would be changes at work. Two hours later – along with several hundred others – he lost his position.
I walked into the bathroom when it was still light outside and did not emerge until it was dark. I’m guessing it was a couple of hours where I sat, stood and knelt in an embarrassing amount of anger and self-interest. The holiday timing was humorous. The lightness I felt the day before was robbed. The heaviness over our family with the news just made me madder. Of course, I’m the queen of concealing, so after the bathroom retreat, I went about my merry way baking and wrapping (though shopping abruptly ceased), determined that my adult kids would not observe me wallowing in the 50lb. heart-weight I was carrying. The main concerns included zero severance this time around and the cost of insurance which all three of our children are still on with us.The day after the news, I was praying and the song Defender came to mind by Francesca Battistelli. The lyrics that stayed with me were, “All I did was praise…all I did was worship…all I did was bow down…all I did was stay still.”
Being a hard-on-herself woman, I’ve never been great at staying still. I struggle with having faith without my own hand being involved in the outcome. This has been an area of spiritual immaturity in a life that does possess indicators of mature faith. Inexplicably, I decided on that floor to merely worship, accept that this passed through His hands before I knew about it and He knew what we needed. I also prayed He would provide me with a role that would support our family without my husband’s income. Of course, it was the second round of Covid ripping through our area, Christmas is normally a terrible time to be looking for a job, and a looming presidential shift were all scaring most employers away from doing any hiring until after inauguration day.
A few days later, the company that terminated my husband’s role called to say they had a temporary contract available for less pay but he would retain the healthcare benefits if he was interested. He immediately accepted.
A couple more days later, a friend called who I don’t speak with often, wondering if I would consider taking the role she previously mentioned to me. A month prior, she reached out asking if I could recommend a person to fill a financial position in her department. Though gushing with gratitude over her kindness, I reminded her that I think in words and find meaning in people-interactions. At best, I’m horrible in numbers and don’t thrive well in an isolated office environment. She assured me the role would be light on math and firmly believed I was the person for the position.
After our meeting, the job was miles outside my wheelhouse but the salary offer and close location could not be passed up. I accepted, thanking her for the confidence when I was walking into the position at a deeply humbling 25% capability. That was mostly for being computer-proficient.
Any believer who has lived a little bit with the Lord knows that “standing in faith” does not always produce favorable conclusions. However, God responded to my willingness to give up the struggle on that floor. I determined to be hands-off. I wouldn’t even say I was nice about it when I laid it all down before Him, I was just sad. The preceding weeks had necessitated a liver surgery for my mom, brought a scary mammo situation for me (all is well) and we were running meals to two sets of parents for weeks. I reread the scriptures I screenshot below.
While we all like to quote that “faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see” (Hebrews 11:1), this experience wasn’t like that. There have been plenty of times when I’ve prayed scripture over a situation. This was more about leaving my disgust with the circumstances at His feet and determining not to ruin what is normally a very happy month in our home.
While the Word and praying it over our circumstances is vital, God honors the heart. Faith is evident when we simply go to Him, acknowledging there is no where else, no One else who can help. As I mentioned, the outcomes aren’t always favorable. At my age, I’d say most in an adult lifetime do not play out quite how we prayed they would. Yet, the biblical patriarchs taught us the importance of surrendering, even when faith seemed an unreasonable response to the circumstances.
These are thoughts that must continue for me moving forward. During the first three days at work, I sincerely contemplated how I could get out of it. I legitimately know nothing about the industry and it’s a highly confusing niche of said industry. Just in case I was imagining the excessive confusion I was experiencing, I asked the one other soul I work with (everyone else is remote), who confirmed that the systems are clunky and the work is “complex and confusing”. I tend to embrace ‘complex’. My inner spirit resists ‘confusing’. The kind-hearted woman who hired me also added, “you indeed see in ‘words’. This job is purely data-driven…all spreadsheets and formulas.” If only you knew how often I had cursed Excel when I rarely had to use it. Now, I’m immersed in thousands of rows of Excel, learning four very different software programs on three monitors, in an isolated office of QUIET. God is funny, isn’t He?
I believe work is a form of worship. For two decades, my “work” was raising a family, making a home and teaching part-time. Now, it’s still a bit of those things but with a full-time regular job as well. We can serve Him in our approach and in how we treat co-workers, but we also earn, paying for the beautiful home housing us and fill the fridge, gas tanks and closets for our families. This is ministry.
While 2020 brought blessings with the challenges, most of us are happy to have it in the rearview. To you and yours: with all my heart I wish you goodness, health and peaceful relationships in 2021.
My daughter was in the 8th grade when someone had first referred to her as an “old soul”. It was her social studies teacher who was also an assistant coach of her field hockey team. I stood in the parent-teacher conference slightly annoyed at his remark.
About a month later, someone else made the same comment.
The word “old” was not fitting for a vibrant, beautiful young teenager with long hair and a terrific laugh. A strong athlete with a quick-wit was anything but “old”.
The word “soul”? Well, that word was right on.
I was viewing the word “old” negatively as if these adults were making her less-than. Really what they were trying to do was locate a word to describe a teenager who was anything but typical. The teachers in particular always wanted to share stories with me about how my youngest not only befriended the special needs students but went out of her way to check in with them daily, saying “hello” and “how are you?” that perhaps meant more to the observant teachers than the children.
On the last day of eighth grade, she emerged from the traditional end-of-year award ceremonies empty-handed. “Mama, what I’m good at is not valued at school. It’s not graded.” I nearly died from heartbreak in the school hallway. Her eyes were quizzical as she too attempted to locate words to describe herself.
It was a curious mix back in her youth: a sweet, gentle spirit who would be readily labeled very friendly but not boisterous, on the quiet-side, but also spoke up loudly when another was being belittled or ridiculed. Athletic and captain of her teams, she demonstrated tremendous ability to lead but sat back in group settings, allowing others to be “first”. I suppose the only term that came to the teachers’ minds was “old soul”.
This memory recently came back to me and so I researched a few minutes regarding what the term ‘old soul’ means. There were a wide array of contradicting definitions. Most didn’t resemble my child at all. However, one repetitive noun was “empath”. “An empath is someone who understands the mental or emotional states of others in a way that defies conventional science and psychology. Empaths have the ability to sense the feelings, the thoughts of people.” (Urban Dictionary) Essentially, feeling and thus expressing far more empathy than a normal human. When my youngest was 12 years young, she learned of the diagnosis of a 5-year old boy with terminal cancer. We did not know this family personally but were praying for the boy. I watched my daughter pray, carefully follow his treatment over the few short months he had remaining on this side of heaven, and observed her emotional collapse when he left to be with the Lord. As she lay crying on the couch, she choked through her tears to me, “I don’t want you thinking I’m crying for my own sadness. I’m devastated for the parents…they will never get over this.” She was 12.
My baby girl is now a senior at a university she loves and thrives at. She’s known and loved by her friend group, has a wonderful boyfriend and professors gush over her public speaking skills. If you met her today, your first thought would definitely not be “public speaker” but the moment she takes the front of the room, she brings it to life and commands attention. She’s gentle in spirit, she listens when you speak-regardless of how important you may or may not be in the world-and she loves Jesus. She sees people in a world where most of us are sincerely invisible.
While finishing the decorating of my daughter’s room in her new apartment at school, I was frustrated because the little sunflower lights weren’t yet exactly how I wanted them. I was likely huffing and adjusting them when my youngest’s hand suddenly appeared, and laid ever so gently upon mine. I looked up from my crouched position on the floor at her smiling face. With her hand gently tapping mine she very softly said, “patience my little grasshopper”. I laughed out loud at her adaptation of the famous quote, which was far sweeter with “my little”.
Most actual definitions of old soul don’t fit my daughter, but the few consistent attributes of an empath were reminders for me. While this little jaunt down memory lane turned into a Mom-post, God used the fleeting memory and my quick internet searches to draw attention to the desensitization I’ve been experiencing lately. Normally a highly empathetic person myself, I realized that reviewing nearly 40 cases highlighting man’s worst depravities (see previous post/I’ve been serving on a grand jury for several weeks), my initial disgust has transitioned into desensitivity. We’ve been told that we’ve seen more horrific cases than many juries in past years. The fallout from the presidential election and the claims from those who “say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and that light is dark” (Isaiah 5:20) has additionally increased my guardedness. This is not good when I’m usually quite approachable.
How good it will be to have a day this week purely devoted to gratitude, family, games and delicious food. The timing of Thanksgiving amidst the serious unrest across our Covid-globe and in our hearts…my heart…is much-needed. Perhaps I’m not alone in recognizing the need for renewing empathy and being more sensitive toward others.
image above: studywithfriends.org/wp-content/uploads(fruit of the spirit image)