January 25, 2009

I was in a room full of new people. I always get nervous in big crowds of strangers. That’s probably the most common misconception people have about me. I wanted so badly to have someone with me that knew me, someone I knew understood me and would tell me that I’m was doing fine. I needed to feel somone’s hand on my arm, reassuring me that I wasn’t alone in this sea of people. I tried to imagine Jesus being with me, His hand on my back, letting me know that it doesn’t matter if I don’t fit in with these people. I fit with Him. But in the end, I just wanted a wingman that I could actually see, hear, and share a glass of nerve-settling wine with.

It frustrates me that I know I’m His favorite, but I still crave crate paper affirmations from the people around me.



January 25, 2009

Jared, you’re a surgeon. Why don’t you cut your head out of your ass.

The long and short of “How was your first week?”

January 17, 2009

The short answer is “Great!” The people are really nice and helpful. The sales team defies the cliché image of the cut-throat sales world that I pretty much loathe. They seem dedicated to helping each other help the clients. I sense the importance of leadership, not management. And the leadership is really open and invested in the training process. Everything is very team oriented. Our job is to help the vendors and customers grow their business by offering offer the user the best product and service possible. I never thought I would be in sales, and I don’t think I could do it for company with a more traditional* business philosophy. I’ve never heard anything negative about the company, and my anticipation of hearing the truth of the underbelly of sales has met with silence. Apparently, the hype is true. I’m really excited to be a part of a company that really wants to serve with excellence and integrity.

*do what you have to do to make the sale, tick the box and move on

Those wishing for a deeper answer, read on.

The best way to describe it is to relate it to being in another country. My new coworkers speak a different language, dress differently, and generally live in a different rhythm than I know. Like a missionary that never thought she would end up in some remote village in the middle of India, I never thought Jesus would lead me into the corporate world. After 7 years of non-profit work and 2 years of being poor, it doesn’t seem like a natural fit for me. He gave me a heart for young people, families, and unreached people groups, allowed me to know the hardship of living in poverty, and then dropped me right in the middle of rich people that use words like profit margin and fiscal year. As I write this, I am shaking my head at how ridiculous and counterintuitive this step seems. And that is exactly why I know it’s where Jesus wants me. How do you know Jesus is leading you somewhere? Well, if it makes no sense at all, you’re probably on the right track. (take proverbial grain of salt) Maybe this is just a new application for the idea of not putting new wine in old wine skins. I am new. He has changed me. I am new wine. And in His wisdom, He is pouring me into new wine skins – a new culture of unreached people. It serves me right for asking Him to keep me dependant on Him.

Still I’m left with questions. Can I do this? I’m not exactly a gadgety kind of girl. The side of the brain that understands technology has been dormant in me since I gave up trying to figure out how to play with the Atari mom and dad got us when Reagan was still in office. I keep hearing that it takes 6 months to get a clue and about 12 months to get any good at it. But what if it never clicks? Yep. Dependency.

Speaking of clicking…Will people like me? What if I’m like that girl trying out for American Idol? You know the one. She’s heard how great she can sing from everyone she knows. But all evidence points to an apparent epidemic of tone deafness among those in her circle. People that know me tell me that I’m gifted and that I have something special to offer. But what if, when in front of a real panel of judges, my personality is chronically pitchy? I’m not cool. Well, not in the traditional sense. I know that. I know people who always have the right clothes, say the right thing, and seem to navigate their environment effortlessly. I am not that person. After one week, I am painfully aware of how different I am, and I don’t like it. I want to be all things to all people, but how to I stay true to who I am and still adapt to this new culture? Seriously. Tell me because I don’t know. That sounded way more spiritual that it really is. The underlying truth is that I want people to like me. I know that I can be an acquired taste. It takes a while for people to understand how I see the world. So I’ve decided to lay low and try to learn my new environment before I introduce them to the circus that is Cheryl. I mean, they’ve not even discovered angry Scotsman voice yet. I’m afraid I might be holding my cards a little too close though. I have a sign in my office that reads “Help Wanted. No Irish Need Apply.” In the lower corner, the sign is dates September 11, 1915. The sign gives homage to my heritage while serving as a little irony. I realized the irony didn’t translate when Fitzgerald (I don’t know his first name) stopped by to meet “the girl who doesn’t like the Irish.” Crap. On a side note, he and I have bonded enough that I call him Fitzy, and he promised to correct the misunderstanding with the boys in Tech Support.

I am digressing. A lot.

Then there’s the whole issue of money. I met with a financial planner yesterday. I figure that since I have finances now, I should probably plan how to use them. But saving for retirement? I don’t want to retire. The idea of living now to finance a condo on the beach that I would live in 30 years from now is ludicrous to me. It’s just not something I’ve ever wanted. That being said, I’ve spent too much time this week thinking about all of the fun things I’ve missed out on in the last two years, and about how I can enjoy them now. But in the last two years, I’ve also learned how happy I can be with so little. How do I marry these things?

Despite wondering how I will learn to live in this new country called corporate America, I keep coming back to what Jesus said to me. He brought me here. He promised to keep me aware of my dependency. This is the mission field I am assigned. And if get off track and distracted by all the shiny things, I know His grace will pull me back in line. Feel free to be used by Him if you see my heart wandering…

Can I get excommunicated for this?

January 17, 2009

CW: Yeah, the last few years have been brutal, but Jesus has drawn me closer to Him. And the closer to Him I am, the more I want to hang out with the poor, gay people, blacks,. You know, all the folks that Christians historically ostracize.”

Papa: If it weren’t for that whole Jesus as Messiah thing you believe, you’d be a good Rasta.

A dude in my office just said…

January 16, 2009

Bacon is the candy of meat.

Internal dialogue. Interupted.

January 6, 2009

I got the job! I’m actually going to be able to take care of myself! And other people! No more shame of being poor! But wait. I like poor people. What if they don’t feel like they can relate to me anymore because I have a job? What if I get my own place and then lose my job? Wow. I can get my own place now. And have friends over. I CAN COOK FOR FRIENDS! I can have my first St. Pat’s Day party here! This is going be so great!What if I’m not good at it? Worse, what if I am good at it? What if I make a lot of money and then stop depending on You? I mean, the last two years have been so hard, but I have had more of You than ever. I don’t want to stop realizing that I need You. I get really prideful when I’m good at something. What if I lose sight of everything You’ve done for me and in me. I don’t want to be that rich person that can’t love on the poor and rejected. This sucks! What am I doing?!

Um, relax. Do you remember what I showed you? I am leading you into a new season. I am leading you. My hand is on your back, just like I showed you, Cher. I’m going with you. Breathe. This is just a new place I am taking you because there are people there that need me. Nothing’s changed. Believe me. You still need me! I’m here. Breathe. I’m here.

Ok. But don’t let me forget that I need you. Nothing’s worth that.

Deal. You really need to relax.

Yeah. I get that…

Thoughts on letting go

January 6, 2009

I went back last week. It had been 7 months since I sat at a table with a group of people who know me well enough to order me a drink while I’m in the loo, and understand my sense of humour. They also let me use words like “loo” and spell humour with a U, without mocking me for it.
I spent 5 days catching up through one coffee date after another. My heart was so hungry for the refreshment of old friends and conversations that go deeper than, “So what are you doing in Greenville?” I miss being part of a circle.
Imagine my surprise when realizing that while my friends still love me, I am no longer part of their world. Life went on without me. (stunned silence, I know) This shift was painfully obvious any time I met with more than one person. When coffee consisted of more than just two, I was the outside man. I sat quietly listening to the others talk about their world. I am no longer integrated in their daily lives. I am not part of that world. I’m just a visitor. I’m a distraction from the everyday chatter.
Driving home, my floorboard covered in empty paper coffee cups, like the ground after a snow dusting, I was aware of what I was leaving behind without being able to see what was in front of me. I was sad, but mostly, I felt peace and hope. I realized I was finally ready to move on.
I am interviewing for a job in two hours. Everyone says that it’s going to work out. I am practicing guarded optimism. But I can’t help but think that getting this job would open the door for me to really create a life here. I see God’s gift of the last week. It was sweet closure for me, and makes my heart feel hope for putting down some roots here.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I can’t shake the feeling that Jesus is leading me out of the wilderness we’ve been in together for over two years. Like a lover leading me into a room, I feel He is safely ushering me into a new season, reassuring me with His touch on my back that He is covering me. Leaving what was and reaching out for what will be, my only peace comes in knowing that He is with me.