On more than one occasion, I’ve told my wife that if you’re gonna put anything on my headstone, those are the words. “It’s Never How You Draw It Up.” If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life, that is it. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. It just never really is how you draw it up. Sometimes, often times, that is the best. Sometimes it’s even better.
And sometimes it’s not.
I’ve been away from this blog for quite some time. I’m not ready to call it a comeback (wicked LL Cool J reference), but I am ready to get some questions answered and share a bit of the journey. To all that said they missed the posts, I want to say thank you. Honestly. I never realized people read this stuff. Sorry again and in advance for destroying the english language. I got a 13 on my ACT’s and that’s no lie. Before I dive in, I need to make this disclaimer and make sure that whomever might read this understands that EVERYTHING is RELATIVE. I understand that. As John Mayer once sang, “you better take all your so-called problems and put them in quotations.” Everything is relative. Some, many, have had it worse. Perspective is really important here.
About 5 years ago, life was just humming right along. I was in a job where I was fully alive, making more money than I’ve ever seen. My wife stayed at home with the kids. We didn’t spend like crazy because I worked for a crazy volatile fortune 500 company that had a thing for “reducing the ol’ workforce” and quite often. I always liked to look at the company like the show “Survivor.” If you could hunt, fish or start fire, you were gonna be safe at tribal council (or from layoffs). My position, while valuable, didn’t hunt or fish or start fire.
Then one day I got voted off.
About 5 years ago, I was in the best physical shape of my life. My wife and I were enjoying running half marathons all over these United States. 19 of them to be exact. As I was on mile 9 of my 4th half marathon in 4 straight weekends, I hit a wall. Some would call it crazy, but I’ve never recovered. While various things came and went, I started to have some breathing problems. My best time was a 1:48 for a half marathon. Last time I ran one, I finished in 2:10. It turns out breathing is kinda important when you run. To date, we still can’t figure it out. A lot of test, a lot of suggestions. No answers. It’s just “one of those things.”
Back to the employment thing.
I took a very brief role in ministry (which is another blog post for another time). After about 6 months, I was looking for work and one of the greatest men I have ever met extended an offer. The last 2 years have been life-giving from an employment and life perspective. My wife also was given a great opportunity to join Hilliard Schools on a 20 hour, part-time contract. Just when we needed benefits, this incredible school system extended an opportunity for us to pay into theirs. That was the good news. Bad news was that the cost of paying into their benefits pretty well wiped out her check. She was working very hard for our benefits. They are great benefits and we are so thankful to have them. I just felt bad for my bride. She also supplemented her 20 hours with subbing in area schools. Every night she would find another opportunity. She never complained. She never took a day off. We were living in the “nuclear option” of our budget and she was doing all she could to help. A year ago I moved into a new role with my employer. A great role. That was the good news. The bad news was I was going to start commuting to Indianapolis every week. Many of those weeks I was gone for 2 days and one night. While blessed with jobs (again EVERYTHING IS RELATIVE), we were firmly planted in the “nuclear option” budget and growing weary.
How about your faith?
That cup of coffee in ministry left me with a lot of questions and soul-searching. I like to think of going into ministry like a 3 legged stool. For most men, we tend to define ourselves by three things – our job, our faith (if you’re a believer) and our family. Everything we are rests on those 3 legs. When you go into ministry, 2 of those legs are combined (faith and work) and you’re constantly balancing between work/ministry and family. When something happens to your job in ministry it’s like sweeping one of the 2 remaining legs. Everything you have, the weight of who you are now rests on your family. The one remaining solid leg. Ever see a failure in ministry and wonder “how did that happen?” Now you might have some insight. While, for me, there was no “failure in ministry,” I’ve come to believe that is why it commonly happens.
Suddenly things that were so solid and certain were surrounded with doubt and questions. I’m not sure if I’ll ever look at some things the same. It’s been a process. A very long, long process. Again, everything is relative, but in many ways I felt that I had reached the brink.
This is going to sound very shallow and silly, but if there’s one thing I look forward to every year, it’s our vacation in OBX. It’s where my knots come undone. It’s where everything just makes sense. It’s where we press pause on the craziness that is our family schedule to reconnect and level set. Thanks to our budget, there would be no vacation this year. We’ve done some small things but it’s just not the same.
Then, a few months ago it happened. I had one of those moments where, almost audibly, I sensed that things were slowly being restored. It happened when I witnessed my children fully alive in their church. To witness their joy and see them where they most want to be was a layer of restoration.
I forced myself to get active again. It started with walking. I never knew that walking would be so different from running. In all my years of running I had (count them) one blister. This summer I’ve had at least a dozen. I’ve tried different shoes. I’ve tried band aids and different socks. It’s been the summer of the blisters but I’m still going. Each day is a new adventure. Sometimes I jog (dreadfully slow). Other days my wife and I just walk. I’m moving and active and another layer is restored.
About 6-8 weeks ago a good friend and mentor of mine presented an opportunity to me. Ironically enough, I got it while I was on my weekly drive to Indianapolis. Over the next few weeks we talked and talked and talked some more. On August 3rd, I am joining his team to lead a new company he has acquired. This is bitter-sweet because I am leaving a company that is like none I’ve ever been a part of. It’s a family. Our President has become a friend and mentor to me as well. Saying I was leaving was one of the harder things I’ve had to do. He understood and wants nothing but the best for our family. I am a better man for having worked for the company I have been with the past 2 years. They were a refuge and allowed me to put some things back together. The 3 legs of the stool are finally being restored.
This week, my wife was offered full-time with Hilliard Schools (which she accepted). This is a double win for us. The cost of our benefits will now drop in half (because she’s full-time) and her salary will double. No more searching for daily sub jobs. No more tutoring over the summer to make ends meet. I am so proud of her. Again, she never complained. She always made it work. Our home, our family, our schedules, she has been the CEO, CFO, counselor and cornerstone of faith through it all. A layer for her faithfulness has been restored.
Oh, and that vacation? It turns out a good friend has a condo in North Carolina that is sitting open. He demanded that we take it for a week. Before the new jobs and kids go back to school, we’ve been given a gift to untie the knots and maybe (for this guy anyway), do some “business” with God. I’m closer to Him there. This was not required or expected, it was icing and another layer restored.
Life is never how we draw it up. If you’re headed towards the brink, know there is a way back. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t all come back at once. In all the change and loss and frustration, I never lost my faith. I never stopped believing. Would I have it all back and just like before? Maybe. What I wouldn’t trade is the lessons learned. Our family is stronger. Our budget is tighter. We’ve learned things we never thought we would learn. There are still layers to restore. Some may never be the same.
There may or may not be more blog posts to come. One thing I’ve always tried to do is share the journey and do so honestly. Sometimes that’s not for the best. Thanks again to all those that have extended kind words. Until next time….
Live is never how you draw it up and sometimes that is a very good thing.
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle the Father has in store
Just watch and see, it will not be
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed