Friday, June 25, 2010

A Second Lease on the (Same) Life

Anyone who knows me personally (and well) knows that the last few weeks for me have collectively been some of the toughest in my life thus far.  Looking for a teaching job hasn’t been easy, especially in New York State; so I cast my employment net far and wide hoping I’d find myself a job.  Well, after 4-5 months of searching, I finally started to develop some promising candidates – three, in fact.  One semi-local and the other two were out of state.  I was lucky enough to receive an offer from one of the out of state schools, but I was rejected by the semi-local one.  And it seemed all but certain that this summer would be spent moving to either Florida or Virginia – the locations of the two schools.

At first, I was thrilled to have the end in sight.  For those unlucky enough to experience it, long-term unemployment can destroy you mentally and from the inside out.  With every e-mail and phone call you’re hoping that will be the one to end it all.  To get away from idle days at home was the gift that I have been praying for.  I called my mom, my biggest supporter apart from my wife, with excitement and anticipation.  And then, overnight, my opinions about the job changed.  I realized the magnitude of what a move out of New York would mean.  Some people would see this as a great opportunity to settle down in a brand-new place to explore, make new friends and set out on new adventures.  Up until these past few weeks, I thought I was that type of person – craving for a new adventure.  But the more I dwelled on it, the more I realized I am not that sort of person.  I’m the other type of person who likes being around the company of a few trusted friends whom I’ve known for years.  The type of person who wants to be close to family, attend and be involved in the same church, and the type of person who enjoys familiarity.  All of a sudden, the thought of a new job out of state was terrifying to me – albeit a great job.

When tough decisions have to be made, I turn to God.  I quickly realized that this was something I should have done in a less critical situation – like when I considered looking for jobs out of state.  In my angst to be employed, I never reflected about what it would be like if I did actually get a job out of state and this is something.  But being unable to remake that decision, I realized two options lay before me. 

In one hand, God calls us to live outside our comfort zone and to take risks – both personally and corporally – for the sake of the Gospel.  In a new place, I would be forced to do that while be provided for financially, which has been a prayer of ours (my wife and me) for a while now.  However, we would be cut off from all we both had ever known on a daily basis.  To reject the offer would be to continue the current state of affairs - financial uncertainty and unpredictable schedules – but continue in the support and culture of our friends, family and church.  To me, this was an impossible decision that needed to be made within the week… a stalemate.

So last weekend, I consulted with several trusted (and as unbiased as I could find) friends and family of friends.  And then my wife and I talked for several hours about this life-defining decision.  We talked out the consequences and exploring the options.  We prayed.

There’s no suspense in the story if you have talked to me in the past week.  We’re staying.  I turned down the offer.  Some will call me a fool – trust me I am the first on that list.  Some will favor the decision to stay, and they will be glad – and trust me I am the first on that list as well.  There wasn’t an easy answer to the predicament that I put myself, and consequently my wife, into.  No matter what we decided to do, we would be given a large list of “What if’s.”  Although we will never know the answer to the other decision, I am currently content with our choice.  However, I must remember that I could have prevented this from happening in the first place.  Personally, I believe that God uses our mistakes and tough decisions for a reason.  If I can walk from this situation unchanged, inside and out, then I am truly the fool who returns to his own vomit. 

Thankfully, I strive too hard to let that happen.  On the outside, my wife and I are making some changes.  We’ve worked out a new situation with all our part-time jobs, which have made us both happier with what we are doing – even if it’s not exactly what we want.  I also realize that I can not be the same person I once was either.  Although spiritually growing, I have not taken any risks for God or His Kingdom in far too long.  I’ve been living comfortably in my close-knit group of friends.  To go out into the world as expose ourselves as weak-minded sinners that rely on Jesus for our forgiveness and salvation is simultaneously the hardest and easiest thing for me to confess - it only depends who I’m with.  This is not acceptable in God’s sight; I can no longer live this way.  However, I don’t need to leave everything I know to do this.  All I need to do is pray for the courage to do so properly. 

So please, pray for me and my wife that we live the way we were supposed to the first time.  Because we acknowledge that nothing can and nothing should remain the same now expect our growing love for Christ.

This is our second lease on the same life.

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