Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Friday, December 11, 2015

Surprises Are Not Always Good

For the first time in a very long time, I find myself sitting in front of this blog and actually find it's time to write again.


In the recent past I have thought about writing--*should I? I shouldn't* thoughts going back and forth like ping pong balls bouncing off the walls of my skull. I would decide I should, come sit at the laptop, look at the blinking cursor, shut it, and walk away.

Nope, not time. 

So, why now, you (and I) ask? Especially after all the silent months, save for the happy wedding shoot blog I posted over a year ago. Because life is a shocker sometimes, and the only way to deal is to skip talking and go straight to writing. The latter has always been easier for me anyway. And it's the only form of therapy I can afford.

A lot has been bouncing around in my mind lately. It started a long time ago, with the end of my job at the pharmaceutical company I worked for for a year and a half. To a degree, I let the company owner run over me, out of fear. So when that ended and I moved into a consultant role, I thought everything was awesome. When the consulting evaporated, well, all you have to do is go through the blog archives to see how that turned out. 

I asked God over and over, What do you want me to do? Anything. Just tell me.

Silence. But years of job searching and coming up empty-handed seemed to have ended this year. I had a 3-hour interview with a small business about 20 miles away from home, and after waiting weeks for them to come to a decision on filling the position of Office Manager, an offer from a friend of ours dropped into my inbox. Part-time, perfect hours, independent contractor agreement, flexible, the potential for development, someone I knew. 


I know nothing is perfect, but I had very high hopes. Silly me. The person I thought I knew was actually 2 different people: the social, kind-hearted friend and the angst-ridden, bully, disrespectful work person.

People have baggage. They stuff their bags full of hurts, wrongs done, and unmet expectations. Some people carry their heavy load around with them through life, wearing their victimhood like a badge, allowing it to become their identity. 

The brain seeks what is familiar before it seeks what is good for the person, I read once.

Maybe this is one reason why the Bible instructs us to renew our mind (Romans 12:2)--so that we may not conform to the pattern of this world and know what the will of God is. The world excuses anger, bitterness--even murder--on the basis of past wrong done to a person. Jesus transforms the heart and that healing results in fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). [Preaching Gospel to myself!]

So, everyone has a choice to make. 

My father's life story is the perfect example of someone who was badly hurt, yet chose a better path than to be angry, bitter, and hurtful. His parents divorced when he was about 10 years old, which would make the time period 1935. He told me that his parents took the advice of a psychiatrist who had evaluated the family and told his parents it would be best to split the family so that his sister went with his mother and he went with his father, since all they did was fight. His sister went to live with their mother; however, his father wasn't on board with single parenting his son, so he abandoned my father, who then became a ward of the state of New Jersey. Placed in foster care at age 10, my father suffered through, and survived, pneumonia. Understand that this was miraculous, since there were no antibiotics to treat infections at that time. Eventually, his aunt and uncle took custody of him and he lived with them, and his 2 cousins, in deservedly grand style.

I asked my father, "How did you survive all this? What happened to you was horrible!" 

His answer: "I had a choice to either sink or swim. I chose to swim."

My father was not a man of faith until his 40s, but I remember him in the years prior to that as a kind, thoughtful man who believed everyone should strive to be good; a good person, and a good citizen. He served America as a young man in the U.S. Navy during WWII, as a Lieutenant. I never heard him ever speak an evil word about a neighbor or a co-worker, or show anyone any disrespect. And he raised me to always be respectful of elders and never question authority.

Sorry, Dad, I believe in respect but not the never-questioning-authority thing.

So, after all of my life experiences, I took my lessons from my father and added them to the basket full of other lessons from the tough things I have been through. A big lesson I learned after a potentially life-threatening situation and a failed marriage is that NO ONE should ever be allowed to exert the power to make another person feel threatened, fearful, less than, or disrespected. This week, someone tried it. I stood up for myself. It was met with a very ugly demand to vacate the premises. I have peacefully and rightfully ended the contract work agreement.

Remember this lesson, friends: Christian ≠ doormat, scapegoat, or whipping boy.

So now I have come to the same conclusion as my good friend, Lea, which is, I don't want to just make a paycheck. I want to do something meaningful. Something to change the world a little for the better. I will find that elusive thing, one day. And I will be sure to share what that is. 

Meanwhile, Leland and I are once again looking at a diminishing bank balance and happily preparing for Christmas festivities with the kids and grandkids. And there is a certain peace that passes understanding; the kind only Jesus gives.

For now, I have laid down my sword, but it is never far away. There will always be dragons to slay in this world.

P.S. Don't click away until you read these final thoughts. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to love our enemies and pray for them. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43-45
I ended my work agreement with a fellow believer, and in the process of that email exchange, I blessed her and I have prayed for her. This is very counter-intuitive when someone hurts your heart and doesn't care, but it is not optional and it is not easy. We forgive because we have been forgiven by our Father in heaven.  

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