My Unexpected Season
As I sit here, rain pelts the roof and stormish clouds hover. It’s as if fall has bullied summer out. It’s forced its way in, impatient to wait for September 23rd, the date fall is in invited to join us with open arms, when we are inclined to invite it to stay awhile.
We have expectations of what each season will bring us, yet we are often hit with an unexpected weather change that causes us to wonder where our beloved specific season has left us. Prematurely, rain has replaced sunshine and blue skies have turned grey. I’m no stranger to the unexpected, and I find myself here again in my personal season. I’m startled by the change, but in moments where fear or anxiety tap on my shoulder, I fix my eyes on the bigger picture. I’m intrigued and find wonder in the way things can weave together so mysteriously.
The end of summer and beginning of fall have always been hectic for me. Both kids’ birthdays are in the first week of September. When the kids were at home, we had the beginning of the new school year, which because of my work at a school, I now refer to affectionately as SY20XX. I’m big on abbreviations, but not acronyms for some reason. Anyway, add birthdays, the demands of the new SY and both kids playing a fall sport, and fall has always been a packed season. Bradley still plays football at a nearby college, and with working at a school, the intensity of the end of summer/beginning of fall persisted. This year I added something else to the mix: I left my school job on August 28th, and went to work for a new company on August 29th.
As soon as I got a breath, I imagined writing a post about the enthusiasm I had for the new career endeavor. I would have told you that on my first day, I was a bit embarrassed because I greeted my co-workers with a hug and held back tears. I’d left a solid job at the school and people I love, for a brand new profession, with the hopes (after several conversations) of a management position with the company. But for now, I took a substantial cut in pay. They wanted to try me out. Everything was so different all at once, and I think my body and spirit were more overwhelmed at it all than my mind was. It might have been putting on the brakes while I was doing my best to convince it that it would all be okay. I have a hard time deciphering between this thinking head of mine and my spirit who I like to think guides me.
I hope it’s not arrogance, yet maybe I’ve got some self reflecting to do on this topic. But because my work ethic and enthusiasm to learn are strong, I imagined I’d be moving up to management within a time frame my budget could tolerate (possibly supplemented with more t-shirt orders or signing up to be a Lyft driver). I also possess what some might consider an overdose of hope and peace.
You know that peace that surpasses all understanding that we’re promised in Philippians 4:7 and the hope we can count on in Hebrews 6? I think I scare my daughter with my hope and peace, and I sometimes wonder if I’m confusing it with ignorance or denial. I put it to the test though. If I were ignorant or in denial, I wouldn’t work so hard to achieve self sufficiency. I would throw caution to the wind and I would have flown to NY for my son’s away football game. I would splurge on spa treatments, buy cable, and be first in line to buy the new iPhone. I would take vacations!
I believe that I’m mostly aware of what I’m doing. I’m constantly talking to God, asking for guidance. I need input from others, and my bed partner Winky, doesn’t count.
Proverbs says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel…” so, I confer a lot with friends. They’re my partner substitutes. I pick and choose them sporadically to listen to my ideas, hoping not to overwhelm any one of them with everything that must be considered in one’s life. Then I make a decision, pray that God will bless it, and proceed. I have faith in that process, and in that, I find peace and hope. That means when things don’t work out the way I anticipate, I am not rocked. I’m planning my course, but like Proverbs 16:9 says, “the Lord establishes our steps.”
My dear friend who is not a Christian asked me the other day if I thought God is a puppeteer, orchestrating my moves. This is one of those moments that I wish my knowledge would allow me to spout off explanations about the mysteries of God. I love this friend and totally get what she’s asking, because I seek the answer to that question regularly. I do believe God is almighty and decides when the wind blows and the seas calm. And I also believe that he made the weather, and well, weather is weather, and if it rains in Portland, he lets it rain. This topic opens up a huge can of worms, and the biggest question a non Christian has is, “Why would God choose to save one child and not another?” My friend, in essence, asked that very question. I have to tell her that I don’t know. But what I do know is that he’s real. That he’s God. That he loves me, and that he is faithful to me. I also want her to read, The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller. He has the answers! I have it cued to listen to it again.
I can say this because God’s faithfulness to me is not a wand he points in my direction and grants me a charmed life. His faithfulness shows up in my heart, in my peace and my hope, in spite of anything but a charmed life, where hardly anything is what I thought it would be or what I would choose it to be, except that I am fully and joyfully at peace.
Joyfully I commuted to my new job, reveling in the newness of it all. The commute where for 30 or so minutes I got to pray or listen to Catholic radio or to a current book (I just finished “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown: Five stars!). It was blissful car time that I’d never have anticipated tolerating, let alone enjoy. But what’s not to enjoy with a view of Portland on both sides of the Markham bridge as I moved with all my new car friends? As I turned the corner off the bridge, old buildings covered in graffiti and railroad tracks and trains that stop traffic several times a day surrounded me. The city is pumping the economy and I’m part of it. I loved it!
The new job however wasn’t as exhilarating as the commute. My eyes were opened to the back house of a staging company where the employees work incredibly hard to create a stunning ambience that will appeal to potential buyers. The first week I was both in awe and physically exhausted. Into week two, I’d discovered how to manage the job so I was contributing more by packing, unpacking, and placing items, rather than lifting bins. The team encouraged this strategy, as they know the toll on the body. I was beginning to get the hang of it all and saw a potential rhythm I would enjoy. But somewhere in the two weeks something unconnected to the physical work wasn’t lining up.
After much thought, reflection, prayer, and some conversations, I came to the conclusion to give my notice. Again, I put my process in place and made a decision. I can’t say I know where God fits into these specific steps, but I felt solid going into the job, and while disappointed, I felt solid leaving.
Suddenly the season that I’d anticipated had switched gears. Of course I considered waiting it out. There’s a really good chance things would have worked out. But at this time in my life, I wanted more control. I’d left my school job for more opportunity and I wasn’t feeling confident that this was going to be it. As I sought a solution to the confusion about the job, I wondered what I could do, where I would work, what can I offer? I was reminded of something I do well, which is to juggle things. Maybe it’s from the years of restaurant work or from being an oldest child taking care of my younger brothers and sister, or my foster siblings. I’ve been in charge and juggling my whole life. Maybe this is what I have to offer!
So, with the decision to leave my job, I am forging ahead with a new plan. While in traffic on my way home from church on Sunday I came up with a business idea and name I love! I’m not yet sharing the name on social media until I research a trademark. I conferred with a Legal Zoom attorney yesterday. Which, BTW, I am so far, impressed with Legal Zoom! My concept is that I will be a source for those who need help juggling the tasks and demands of their life. We’re all stretched so thin, and I will be the one you call to fill in the gaps. Need gifts picked up and wrapped? Call me. Need your house spiffed up for company and the table set? Call me. Need a “Day Of” wedding coordinator? Call me. More to come, but that’s the gist.
I hope to incorporate more blogging into my new effort as well, so you if you follow me, you can move from one season into the next with me, and witness how I manage the clouds, knowing the blue skies are not far behind.
H A P P Y F A L L !
God is always with you Joni. He will never leave your or forsake you. He is so Faithful! It is so sad that we live in such a sinful world. Your friend doesn’t understand that God must let the sin problem play out. Everyone must know and see that sin is a problem and was NEVER in God’s plan for us and that Jesus is our “Goel” (kinsman redeemer). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, sin has lived among us. There is a day coming soon when Jesus will come in the clouds to rescue His children from this sinful world. Then sin will be eradicated. FOREVER! Thank God. All of our tears and sorrows will be wiped away! Praise God! Prayer is a very powerful tool in the toolbelt of the Christian. God hears our prayers and He always answers. It may not be what we expect to hear or see or feel but He always answers. Open our eyes Lord that we may see Jesus and The Way You have for us. The Bible promises He will instruct us and lead us in the way to go and He will guide us with His own eyes. Blessed by your journey my friend! You are amazing and talented and all that you have worked so hard for is coming to fruition. God has a plan for you and listen to Him. He knows the way! Love you my friend!
Thank you, Sue! It was so nice to get a comment that I could approve! I appreciate your spiritual wisdom and encouragement. It helps especially in this time of the unknown!