Let me start out by saying this year has been hell. Absolute hell.
It was our first year of marriage, so David and I dealt with all that comes with two people, who are used to being pretty self-serving, joining our lives together. Add to that some pretty nasty medical issues for both of us, David commuting an hour to school each way every day (and us not being able to afford it), David graduating and being in the job search, him ending his military service of eight years, the list goes on. And on. And on. And then, on Valentine's Day of this year, comes the bomb of all bombs.
My position at the college I worked for was going to be eliminated.
Funding cuts. Federal government issues. Just my position, no one else. I don't care who you are or what you believe, but just because Obama was/is in office, doesn't mean us government workers don't feel the pain of budget cuts. People who need help (what you might call "entitlement programs", which yes, I believe people should be entitled to an education) ARE having their programs cut, and I am living proof of that reality.
This came at a time where I was the only one in our new little family that had a job. And even then, we'd been dipping into our savings every month in order to get by on one paycheck. David would be graduating in three months, but still. We had until May for both of us to find jobs, in this economy. Awesome.
And then yay! March hit, and David was offered a job working in commercial real estate appraisal. Two full months before he graduated. Being offered employment before you graduate RARELY happens. So what that it meant he would be adding an hour to an already two hour a day commute in order to work part time and go to school? We knew the money for gas was worth the beauty of having one of us with a secured job. We could dig a little deeper into our pockets to make it work.
And then bam! My second to last day at my college, I was offered a position at a new college, closer to home, same federal program. We had money! We could pay off our credit card, actually make a dent in my student loans, maybe even save for a house (that most days seems so far away...).
But then, I got in the new job, and from day one, it became starkly apparent this was not right. I won't go into details, because I don't think it's fair, but the job was not a good fit for me emotionally, professionally, and physically. The amount of stress I endured during my time there made my physical ailments worse, and I became, lets just say it, a royal bitch at home. Sure we had money and health insurance, but I was miserable. So I toyed with the idea of quitting. But how can you do that!? How can you quit a job in this economy, with no back up? Every person in my life told me I was crazy, to stick it out until I found something else, who cares if you screw over that program by quitting out of the blue, focus on yourself. But something inside me said that option, wasn't really an option for me. For my health, for my sanity, for the sake of the program who needed a permanent person in there, I couldn't stay. And then my friend Mike Matthis (love you!) posted this quote on his facebook:
"The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty." - Anne Lamott
And you know what? Following your heart and stepping out in faith feels pretty awesome. For about a day. Then it sucks. It kicks in that you forfeited your health insurance for you and your husband. You are putting your student loans in deferment. Coupon clipping even more than you already did. Dipping into your dwindling savings again. And you apply to any job you can get your hands on, only to be told "no" after nine interviews in one month.
Which left me with a thought that is the reason behind this whole blog entry. Where the hell was God? Seriously?! What the fuck?
I've never really questioned whether God was real and personal. Jesus, yes, many questions there, many that still linger. But God? Nope. Never. Until now. All the canned Christian answers kept coming into my head:
"God's got a plan"
"He's in control even if if doesn't feel like it"
"He's got something better for you"
"He's teaching you to trust Him"
Well pardon my french, but fuck that. Seriously, fuck that. If this was "God's Plan", to make me sick to my stomach, crying every day, take away my job, that I loved, only to place me in another one that was not right, then He's a pretty messed up God. What an absolutely shitty way to bring about your plan.What a convoluted way to make me follow and trust you. How sadistic. I wanted nothing of it, and it became clear real quick this idea of God could not be congruent with a God I wanted to believe exists, a loving God who cares for me; so I started questioning whether God was real at all. Because I couldn't, in my head, make logical sense of why all of this was happening. A hiccup or two here or there, fine, but all of this! That's just messed up.
And then last Monday, Augsburg College called me. Let's back this train up real quick; I applied to a job there twice this year, only to make it to the top three the first time, and then the top two the second time, and then get turned down. This job would have answered so many questions for me. It's a short walk to my doctor (who is a specialist, so I need her), five minutes from my house, in financial aid (an area I've felt for a while I would thrive in), and who's mission statement, that serving your world is not an option, but a command from God, I could wholeheartedly get on board with. So when I was rejected, there was no bigger "f-you" slap in the face, and it felt like it was from God. The final "sorry babe, but you're not getting any answers or help here".
So when they called me, I was shocked. They asked me if I was still interested in working there, because they had another position open, and they wanted to bring me in based off my interview this past summer. If the meetings I had set up went well, they'd offer me the job.
And guess what? This past Friday, I was made an offer of employment at Augsburg College. Starting January 2nd, I'm their newest Student Financial Services Counselor.
Yay! Right? I'm so happy, and so relieved, and so at peace with what's coming up in my life. But I didn't know where this left me with my thoughts and feelings on God. Because, let's face it, all the shit I've had happen this year, still happened. There was no need to go through this; if Augsburg was where I was meant to be, why not stick me there this past April when I applied the first time and be done with it? I really didn't know where that left me.
And then, at Mr. Mike Matthis' suggestion, I picked up Anne Lamott's book "Traveling Mercies: Thoughts on Faith" and started reading it about two days ago. She's a fantastic writer, authentic in every way. It's her authenticity and desire to be raw and honest that finally led me to a bit of truth about God and faith:
It's not about me.
"It turned out that this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And he said - gently- that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born - and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible."
When I first read that I thought, "Yeah, okay. I bet." Like, it's someone grasping at explaining the problem of pain, to relieve the cognitive dissonance they have about what's going on. Been there, done that.
But I haven't been able to shake this idea. What if, this year wasn't really about me. Without saying too much, the department I'll be working for at Augsburg has had a challenging year of transition. The two other individuals that were hired the first two times I applied had more experience than me. At the time, the fact that that was why I wasn't getting hired, really pissed me off. You can teach someone how to do a job, you can't teach people how to work with and care about people, which I know I have that quality in spades. But after hearing more about all the transition they've had this year, it's a good thing they hired those two people with that experience, because those two have already been moved around and given more responsibilities than originally intended. What if, God was working on something, bigger than me, and I just needed to wait for my turn? Maybe? This whole time I'd been wondering "why me?" when really the question I should have been asking was "why?"
I think that's where I'm at with everything at this point. I'm back to thinking there is indeed a God (yay!), but the above is the best explanation I can come up with for this year. And I guess for me, that's good enough. It's my time to be happy, so I'm done trying to figure it all out. Time to rest in the fact that we were provided for, and that we are about to embark on another new journey.
I wrote this, in a way, to let God know that I get it. I would say I'm sorry, but I don't know if that's what He requires. I felt how I felt, and I believe I was allowed that. But I also write this for anyone else out there who feels like lately, they just can't seem to catch a break. For those who've allowed themselves to really ask the difficult questions of "why". Allowed themselves to go beyond what "they should be believing" as a person of faith, and have the courage to really challenge what the hell is going on. It's okay to do that. But also know, perhaps God is working on something else, something that has nothing to do with you, and for now, that's all you need to know.