Monday, August 17, 2015

A Reminder To Myself

      Sometimes we all need a reminder.  To look at where we've been in order to prepare for where we are going, but also have gratitude for what is happening in this

      This hit me hard yesterday:

   It was about two years ago that Stef found out she was pregnant.  I remember the day well.  She had been sick for about a week.  We suspected she may be pregnant.  So we drove into town, (we were living/working out in the middle of nowhere at the time), we went to church.  We picked up a couple of tests on the way to our friends's with whom we were spending the afternoon.  It was positive.  We called our parents.  The rest of the day was spent in a celebratory daze of shock, awe and blessedness.
     The next day, I got laid off.  On top of that, we were told that we had six days to vacate the place where we were living.  So here's the scenario:  We go from a newly married with a stable income and the next two years comfortably planned pregnant, unemployed and homeless in a 24-hour time period.  We had $180 in our bank account and $500 worth of bills due.  Needless to say, it was a lot to take in.
       Although I wanted to get into a cycle of feeling sorry for myself and being pissed off at how massive a failure the whole thing was, something in my spirit checked me into the boards.  I'd been asking for a transformation.  I'd been asking for the next great thing to "do" with my life.  Well, God gave me exactly what I needed.  As that famous dude once said, "Ask and it will be given."  It was up to me to accept the gift and to see the situation with the right pair of eyes.
       Some friends of ours took us in, so we at least had a place to stay, in fact, it was a resort compared to where we had been living.  I couldn't draw unemployment so I took the first job I was offered.  Although generally, I would have considered the work "beneath me" because of my prior education and experience, I took the job because it met my needs.  It was quick money. There was opportunity for rapid advancement.  In the interview they didn't mind hiring me, even though I told them I would be looking for a teaching job in the meantime and was going to quit as soon as I landed one.  They also didn't mind hiring me even though I still had a resisting arrest charge pending dismissal on my record.  I spent the next month as a laborer, working 14 hour days.  In Texas.  In the summer.  Picking up trash.
       Everything worked out.  Much more has happened since.  It's a long story.  But here are a few lessons I learned during that trying time.

All dolled up for some hard work.
        1.  The world doesn't owe you anything.  Nope.  Not one red cent.  God doesn't owe you anything either.  You've already been given the gift of life.  That is opportunity enough.  Thinking any differently will automatically turn you into a victim and make you powerless to every circumstance that comes your way.  My boss didn't care that I had a master's degree.  The garbage wasn't going to pick up itself just because of my education.  All my boss and the company cared about is that the job got done right and the client was happy.  It was eye-opening when this realization hit me, because for most of my life I had been walking around with a chip on my shoulder thinking the world owed me a great payout for how hard I'd worked up to that point.  Because that had been my attitude, most of my life had been spent as a victim.  Knowing that you're owed nothing, will show you that you already have everything.  Now you're in the driver's seat.  The world, and any circumstance that befalls you, are gifts and teachers, rather than "enemies" trying to steal from you.

         2.    Who or what you blame will have power over you.  When picking up trash all day every day, I had a lot of time to think.  Usually, my first thought would be where does all this trash come from?  From there, it would be really easy for me to get mad at the people who didn't clean up after themselves.  After all, if they did, I wouldn't have to be out in the sun cleaning up.  When I began to think like that, blaming others, I immediately gave power over myself to 100s of strangers.  Again, blaming others or circumstances not only will make you a victim, but it will also make you a victim that has willingly been victimized.  I spent much of my life secretly blaming others for my "failures".  I blamed my parents for not sending me to a better college and causing me to go into debt.  I blamed religion for not going further with my career as a basketball player.  I opted out of playing in many high-profile tournaments because games were on Sundays and I felt guilty for playing on Sundays.  The list goes on.  Ultimately I had to learn that I was responsible for everything that had happened to me in my life up to that point.  You have made every decision and thought every thought that has culminated in you arriving exactly where you are right now.  It is no one else's responsibility.  You have unlimited power and energy by which to create, partner with and transform the world around you.  If you are constantly blaming other people or circumstances you are telling that person or circumstance that you would rather they hold onto your personal power because you are afraid to use it.

Worth it.
       3.     There's no such thing as failure.  For a guy with two college degrees, working as a laborer picking up trash could seem like a giant failurebefore that, leading my family into unemployment and homelessness could also look like a big fat failure.  But failure indeed is in the eye of the beholder.  You only fail when you choose to see the results as a failure.  In my situation, although my circumstances did not look the way I thought they should look, I was learning valuable lessons and skills along the way.  I got promoted from general laborer (where I picked up trash all day) to crew leader.  I got a company car, and I learned how to use all kinds of machines I never knew how to use before.  Now, it is a bold-faced lie to say that getting what you want is going to be easy.  It isn't.  But even if your outcome is less desirable than you may have imagined, you still have become something in the process.  Your thoughts have changed.  You have changed.  Because in the midst of doing things, what you've learned through it can never be taken away from you.

      Maybe that's one of the mysteries we're supposed to learn as humans.  Maybe that's one of the doors that can show us the eternal seed we all have burning within.  

Love you all,


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