Life is short, even in it’s longest days”

I have read about as much as I can take on “how to get a job/build your brand/deal with lay off/find your passion/survive the economic downturn”.  What you are about to read is written from someone who has:

  • been out of work for over 6 months
  • used all of my retirement funds (for the 2nd time)
  • had the pleasure of explaining to his children that even with 18+ years of education & 20 years of experience I cannot seem to find a job
  • sent out well over 500 resumes and received 2 phone calls that led to 2 interviews (one of those led to another job teaching as adjunct faculty so I guess I can look at like a 50% success rate)
  • had to rely on family to buy my kids’ school supplies and groceries from time to time
  • been considering if the next step is selling our house that we built just 5 years ago
  • to face the fact that bankruptcy is a potential “next step” in the future
  • unexpectedly had to buy new tires for our van only to have the transmission give out the same day I got the van back (I laughed out loud as I showered for the 2nd time in 30 minutes after we had to push the van back to the house in 90+ degree heat as we were headed out for a event with my wife’s family)
  • had to comfort my wife as she sat on the front porch and cried after the van incident and all she could say was, “Why does this stuff keep happening to us?”
  • broke down and cried more times that I care to admit as I think about the impact all of this will have on my children as they grow up
  • sat at his computer every day looking at the bills and the checkbook wondering how to make it through another day and still be able to buy groceries for dinner
  • started running again but realized that the real reason is that I am actually to drain myself so completely (physically) that I am too tired to think and can have some peace for a short time
  • had to develop some strong coping mechanisms in order to continue to get up each morning and focus on being productive instead being angry, bitter, disillusioned, and/or depressed

Now that I have that off my chest, here is what I have to say about all this.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, feel “sorry” for me!  This is simply life and bad things happen which we have to deal with.  The key here is that this isn’t that bad.  I sit in church each week and listen to prayer requests that routinely humble me when I think things are bad.  Single mothers with terminal cancer, young children battling debilitating diseases, people you know in medically induced comas while doctors struggle to stabilize their condition, families splitting up, and a host of other truly life altering (in some cases ending) events.
  • There is no standard process, approach, steps to success or some other fix-it routine that works for everyone who is out of work.  Each person is different and each one will need to figure out what they need to do to make it through.  At last count there were 6M+ people out of work and I’ll bet all of us are trying just about anything that we think will work.  The last thing we need is people who are employed writing nifty little articles on what people who are unemployed should do.  In fact, if everyone would quit making it the focus of every news report, newspaper article, or magazine maybe we would all move on and begin to actually take steps to fix it.
  • The world is not linear.  There is nothing to be gained by trying to figure out why it happened or how to prevent it from happening again.  Our collective focus should be on doing what we can with what we have.  John Adams, our 2nd President, was credited with saying, “Duty is ours, the results are God’s.”  We are not now, nor have we ever been, in control of our world.  We constantly try to impose some order on it that will satisfy our pitiful attempts to pacify the panic when we begin to accept that we cannot predict what happens next.  If you think that following steps 1 through 5 will get you “x”, you are in for disappointment.  (As Van Zant says in their song Help Somebody, “you wanna hear God laugh, tell Him your plan”)
  • Cervantes was right when he said, “The journey is the inn.”  Our focus should always be on what we are doing at that moment and not lamenting what we could have done or fantasizing about we can do.  The present is all we have and we should treat it accordingly.  Always be 100% present in everything you do with whoever you are with…you both deserve it.

Finally, since it is Friday and we want to have a good week-end, here are some cool things that have happened over the past 6 months that I most likely have missed if I had been “working”:

  • Had a number of great conversations with my 18 year old son about what he was going to do after graduating high school.  These were impromptu conversations we could have because I was home when he got home from school or could drive with him to the Navy recruiter’s office on Monday morning.  I am convinced that the only lasting legacy we leave behind is our children and the impact we have on the lives of others.  This means you have to be there to listen and engage in meaningful conversations.
  • Spent a great deal of time helping my wife with her store.  This translates into carrying heavy stuff , going to auctions as the “grunt”, prepping all her Internet orders, running to the post office, and unpacking new merchandise  in the dungeon (which she calls the basement).  This has allowed her to focus on more productive tasks like merchandising, blogging, creating her newsletters, and selling.  Her business is up 30% year over year and going strong and that is a direct result of someone being right where they are supposed to be doing what they were put on this earth to do.
  • Was able to be home with the kids when my wife’s help at the store suddenly decided to pursue other options.  This meant she would have to work all 4 days each week and we were able to do it easily since I could be at home to manage the kids’ schedules.
  • Assisted in summer conditioning for my middle son’s basketball prospects.  This entailed being at the gym 3 days/week at 8am for conditioning followed by a couple hours of basketball.  This provided two distinct opportunities: spending time with my son + playing basketball (both of which I truly covet).
  • Played chauffeur to my little girl (she is 12 and would take issue with that terminology) for most of the summer.  I was the designated driver for she and her friends which allowed her to be able to have much more fun and that is a good thing.
  • Painted my parent’s house for them which started out as painting the “high spots” but I realized I could do it in half the time.  The reason being my dad was going to use a 3″ brush and I use a roller.  I have also been able to take care of quite a few things for them and that is good.
  • Re-started the Selah Fellowship (which I started about 2 years ago but went on hiatus last fall).  This is mens group that gets together every 2 weeks and talks about the challenges of being a husband, father, son, brother, friend, bread winner, etc. and how to be all simultaneously given what God tells us we are here for.
  • Accepted the fact that there are 2 things God put me on this earth to do that no other person can do.  Be a husband to my wife and father to my children.  Any “job” I have in a workplace can (and currently is) be done by someone else.  Talk about re-prioritizing!
  • Found my groove in my walk with God.  I finally realized something that has brought me both peace and anxiety…He does not care about my bills, my house, my checking account, etc.  All He cares about is remaking me in His Son’s image and that has absolutely nothing to do with anything “of the world”.  In fact, He normally selected those who society looked down upon to accomplish His most amazing feats.  Check out what the Apostles did for a living before Jesus selected them.  This continues to be disconcerting because while I know He does not care about that, I have to.  I guess my job is to ensure that His priorities the ones I use to organize my actions.  It is like I am fond of saying, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

If you stuck it out for the whole posting, there was certainly a change in tone, wasn’t there?  While unintended, it kind of represents me in a way.  I think I can sum it up by saying I am trying to find the middle ground between:

“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.” (Proverbs 20:22)

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
”    (Dylan Thomas)

But, then again, aren’t we all?

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19 Comments

Filed under Looking in the mirror, Real Life, The Human Condition

19 responses to “Life is short, even in it’s longest days”

  1. Perry, this was wonderful. Very real. Very honest. Unfortunately very rare. Made my day.
    Dennis

    • Perry

      Dennis,

      Thanks for taking the time to share those comments…it makes it worthwhile when you know there are others out there taking the time to respond.

      Take care,

  2. I can identify with what you are going through Perry as I’ve been there myself multiple times.

    When I was out of work (before working for free for many months as an independent consultant for SBS), I busied myself with anything that I could just to feel like I was worth something.

    I built a table. Messed with things around the house I had just bought before getting laid off. Worked out more, and spent entire days with Kaden (I miss those days the most).

    None of it made me any money at all, and I went stir crazy. Sleep was only an idea, and I came to know every nook and cranny in ceiling of my bedroom as I starred for hours.

    This is NOT your fault and you are doing everything that you can. Keeping your attitude positive will help.

    I really have no idea what to say and I wish I the power to make something happen for you, especially because you have done so much for me.

    I’m still going to try everything I can though…

    • Perry

      Nate,

      Thanks for the kind words and I have faith it all works out for the better in the end…it’s just the middle that is a bit challenging:)

  3. I have also been out of work for 5+ months. I commend you for your bravery of putting this out there. Often days I feel the same but you’re very right that there are a lot of things I wouldn’t have gotten to do if I’d been working. I am grateful that I got to do these things. I really loved this post. Thank you.

    • Perry

      Thank you for your feedback and I think we all need to just take a deep breath and not get caught up in “stuff” and stay focused on what is really important.

      best of luck to you and take care

  4. Jay

    Hi Perry.
    I don’t know you, you don’t know me. I saw this posted in a tweet from Nate Riggs. Thank you for bringing some perspective and honesty. The experiences and lessons gained from people like you in these difficult days will be fuel that reignites this country, both economically and spiritually.

  5. Perry…an excellent post that I found via @ChristianGAdams. Somehow just caught my eye? Very inspiring stuff that makes you really put things in perspective.

    Thanks for the honesty and like @Dennis Stevensen said, it is very rare and refreshing.

    • Perry

      Jacob,
      thanks for the note and I just wanted to pass along some of what I feel as it feels good to get it off my chest but try to do it in a productive way.

      take care,

  6. Rob Sanders

    Proud of you Perry! Your a good Man! The serenity prayer and the lords prayer start all my prayers. There have been many over the same time frame as yours. You’ve been in all of them. Keep it rolling. Your doing great! Hope to see you Sunday.

  7. Perry,

    Thank you for this post. It definitely puts things in perspective. Many people, myself included, have similar stories to the top of your post. When doors are closed, not everyone has the ability to find a newly opened window. What a view you have found through yours.

    -Rick

  8. Jodi Householder

    Hey Perry,

    We have not been a part of each other’s lives for quite some time (ok, a really LONG time!) and do not really know one another anymore. So obviously I was not aware of your current situation (which all I can still really assume is that you are unemployed).

    But I wanted to let you know I read your blog and wanted to leave some thoughts/comments.

    I am not unemployed, but very thankfully employed and blessed with having a career that not only provides for my needs but satisfies me in immeasurable ways…I love my job and what I do.

    And I think I’m fortunate in that I get to employ people, give people a job who had the misfortune of losing their previous one. Now mind you this is in a specific industry and people with a specific, detailed skill-set but all the while it’s very satisfying to feel as if a positive part is done to help the workforce.

    But it took me awhile to get here and I never would have gotten here had I not gone through a 9-month unemployment phase in the not so distant past. Of course it was unexpected and I was unprepared. But it is amazing what we find out about ourselves and the new approaches to life we see when we are thrown a curve ball when we least expect it.

    Would I wish unemployment on anyone, myself again included? No, never. But I also wouldn’t change what happened to me then because in hindsight it was the best thing for me and obviously led me down the path I was supposed to be on.

    I like your attitude not only at the end of your blog, but the beginning as well. That means you’re dealing and coping and living…all things you need to do for the next step to present itself to you. And it will, most likely when you’re not expecting it.

    Best wishes.

    • Perry

      Jodi,
      Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts and I could not agree more. I know that things will happen at some point just wish they moved more on my time line:)
      Glad to hear that all is well with you and it sounds like you are in a great place in your life and that is fantastic! And you are correct, it has been a long time (like almost 25 years!)
      Thanks again for dropping the note and take care,

  9. Niki Meade

    I was sitting in the hospital with my 95 year old Grandma last week, after taking her to the ER due to collapsing. This woman is one of the few people who I have I grown to respect; not for who she was in my early years, but who she became. As she aged, she futher embraced life and became a truly open minded, non-judgemental individual. As we sat there in the hospital, both of us knowing that this was the beginning of the end, she commented to those of us around her (2 of her 6 grandchildren & 5 of her 12 great-grandchildren) and commented along these lines: I have friends with money, but “this, this is what matters”. It is. I believe that now more than ever & I’ve been reminded recently that things and stuff aren’t important. Those aren’t my blessings. 🙂 As a child of parents who lost everything, literally, including our house…family matters most.

    No sympathy given. 🙂

  10. Larry Luckey, II

    Perry, I wonder how many people who have known you for 20+ years were able to read your blog with dry eyes? Your transformation has been amazing, and praise be to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the work He has done and will continue to do through you.
    I read your entire blog aloud, so my mother could “hear” it, as well. I know she and Dad continue to pray for you, as they have told me they do and frequently ask about you. I made some positive comment about how this writing is already affecting the lives of others, including strangers, and Mom added, “He should be a writer. That boy can sure write, but I know he doesn’t need any advice right now.” Reflecting on one of your statements, we laughed, and I replied, “Mom, I’ve read tens of thousands of Perry’s words, and ‘they’re all good.’ The boy made A’s on everything he ever wrote!” Needless to say, I’m extraordinarily proud of your accomplishments–as a son, brother, husband, father, and Brother-in-Christ; and, I’ll continue to pray for you and will include in those prayers that God continue to use you by His power for His glory. Thanks for sharing. Most would never be as transparent as you, but your shared perspective will continue to enlighten others. (BTW, this is the first time I’ve ever responded to a blog unless FB counts!)

  11. Paula M

    Perry, Even though you’ve asked me not to feel sorry for you, my heart just breaks for you. I pray everyday that a door will open for you into a new opportunity that will not only satisfy your financial needs, but the needs of your soul.

    You’ve been a friend and spiritual role model for me. Any time I’ve gotten mired in feeling sorry for myself, you’ve shown me how inconsequential my trivial trials have been as it relates to the bigger life picture. It’s difficult for me to forgive those who have directly or indirectly put you in this position; however, I know you have and that you’ve moved on to living the life you have now, vs. looking back with any kind of bitterness.

    You are indeed a lucky man to have a family that loves you and I am sure, know how lucky they are to have a committed, loving husband and father. I’ll take time today to focus on and count my blessings and work harder to remind myself that God is watching out for me and has a plan for my life. I just need to be patient enough to listen and let him lead.

    Thanks for sharing

  12. Chris Johnson

    Back in our younger days, I looked up to and respected you. Now, many years later, I continue to hold you in high esteem – more so as I read your words. I remember you being gifted in writing, and its very apparent here; thank you for sharing. Your sincere words are inspiring, thought provoking, and humbling. You are very blessed, and you’ve reminded me of my own blessings today, and for that alone, I’m very grateful. You are in my thoughts and prayers. And I hope you keep writing.

    Not coincidentally, this was my devotional verse for the day – I thought I’d share with you. Seemed fitting.

    John 16:33 (King James Version) – – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

    • Perry

      Chris,

      It has some been some time since we spoke for any length of time and I certainly appreciate your kind words. I am very glad that you are able to look on your own situation and the blessings it brings to you and your family.
      Thank you as well for the verse as it is quite appropriate and inspiring.

      Take care and hope to speak to you soon.

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