Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hope Still Flies...

It's 6:00am on a Saturday, the one day a week now where I can really sleep in. And I'm wide awake, my mind racing from a weird dream, the substance of which compels me out of bed to process it. I'm one of those (unfortunate?) people who, once my eyes are opened, cannot get back to sleep, regardless of the time at which said eyes open. I'm generally a morning person. If I could get by without sleeping, I often think how much more productive I could be, an extra 7-8 hours a day to do with what I may.

I fought this compulsion to get up as best I could, but eventually I had to cave. I can't really explain it, but I felt like I had no choice but to get up and think about what I had dreamed. To chew on it. To break it apart for meaning, this strange amalgamation of vision and words and experiences. The details themselves are of little interest (I've already forgotten some of them) but safe to say the overarching idea was about closing the door on the last 9 months.

The last 9 months were, safe to say, generally terrible. A soul crushing search for gainful employment, coupled with a move to the middle of nowhere. Car trouble. Family struggles. Wondering if I should go back to school. Examining my vocation. Each assurance that "God has a plan for you" or "It will all work out in God's time" another stab in the heart. Rough times, in all. A life uprooted and tumbled, spilled over and poured out. It was probably the toughest consecutive 9 month stretch I've endured in a long time, if not in the entirety of my 30 years so far. I've done enough whining and venting and ranting about it to fill a novel, so I will leave it at that.

But this dream.

Man, this dream...Whatever it meant, whatever my subconscious was working through..

It felt like hope.

And I was beginning to wonder when I might feel that again.

But it is surging through me right now, and I don't remember the last time I felt this good. I know in large part it is because I now have a job, and one I believe is going to be incredibly fulfilling (though filled with more spreadsheets than I imagined a fulfilling job might) and rewarding and a way to do a LOT of good. But it's more than that.

Something's going on.

I don't know where it goes or what it looks like, but something is at work now that was lying dormant over the last few months. Maybe some grand adventure starts now. Maybe some next step in figuring out who I am. Maybe I just had a confluence of properly timed synapse firings. Whatever it is, I am interested to see where it goes.

Fittingly, as the dream drew to a close and I felt myself awaken, I began to hear (feel? imagine?) the lines from Five Iron Frenzy's "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night." For those of you unfamiliar, below are the lyrics to the song, followed by a link to listen to it. Since waking up around 6 am, I have listened to it probably 25 times.

I can't imagine a more perfect way to wake up, and know that hope still flies.

Hope still flies...

"It was a dark and stormy night last night.
Bitter dark.
Rain fell in torrents, stabbing it’s ghosts through the cold,
And straight through our hearts.

I've been waiting, in halfhearted sleep,
For a promise I half meant to keep.
Just for hoping that hope still flies,
Wipe the sleep out of our sleeping eyes.

Fog that is lifting,
The spectre of dreams we once had,
Speaks into the night,
Slumber is over, sunlight is streaming through,
Come into the light.

I've been waiting, in halfhearted sleep,
For a promise I half meant to keep.
Just for hoping that hope still flies,
To wipe the sleep out of our sleeping eyes.

I know,
Hope has not forgotten me,
I know,
I’m waking from the longest dream.
I know,
I know,
I know,
I know...

I've been waiting, in halfhearted sleep,
For a promise I half meant to keep.
Just for hoping that hope still flies,
Wipe the sleep out of our sleeping eyes.

And hope still flies
And hope still flies

And hope still flies..."

Achievement Unlocked: Obtain Gainful Employment

Finally. After a long, difficult, soul-wrenching search, I have a job.

Last week Jill and I were with her family in California, having a family vacation. Of course, when you're unemployed, every day is a vacation. But not every day is spent in southern California, and least not for me. Anyway, I had been in contact with this prospective employer for a few months, moving from introductory meeting to interview to another interview, etc. The normal employer-employee courting process.

I was hoping to hear from them before leaving for California. And obviously I was hoping the news was positive. Had it been negative, I may have just stayed in California (side note: I don't know if you guys have heard, but California is pretty freakin' awesome.). But no news before we left. At this point, I suppose no news was better than bad news that may have put a dark tarnish on my mood for the week.

About half way through the week, I get an email entitled "Let's talk about the position." Crap. Ominous. Foreboding.

Turns out my suspicions were incorrect. It was actually, "hey let's talk about this position because we want to offer it to you."

And so, I am beyond incredibly pleased to announce that two days after returning from vacation, I began working for the Community Foundation of Morgan County,  as their Program Officer. What does that mean?  What does a Program Officer do? Well, I've been on the job for a grand total of 5 days so far, but I think a fair summary would be to say that I work with the Foundation to help administer their scholarship and grant programs. The Foundation has many different funds that it manages that are designed to provide grants and scholarships for students and groups in Morgan County. Simply put, I get to help students go to college, breaking cycles of poverty, increasing their education and future prospects. I get to help local non-profits reach out to the community to provide a wide range of incredibly important services. I get to be part of an organization that makes a tremendous difference in our area, and I am incredibly honored to be a part of it.

You can check out our website at to learn more!

A huge thank you to everyone who helped Jill and I during these last few difficult months by way of prayer, support, networking, putting me in contact with people who might be able to help, prayer, food, pats on the back and such. I appreciate everyone who listened to me rage against the machine, who didn't give me cop out platitudes, but instead commiserated with me and provided their ministry of presence, even when they didn't know they were doing so.

Thanks. Many times over.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

This horse is dead...

And yet the beating continues.

Still no job, though I have a couple of prospects in the works. It's the same thing every day. Get up. Eat breakfast. Hunt for jobs. Apply where appropriate, and in some cases, where only tangentially appropriate. Confirm that they received my application. Wait. Distress over how long to wait before contacting them again, seeking to find that balance between showing initiative and interest without being annoying or seemingly high maintenance. Wait some more. Get rejected.

So much rejection. More rejection than I have ever faced in my life.

It's demoralizing.

I'm a skilled, highly educated worker with 10+ years of work experience in a variety of fields (ministry, business, banking, libraries). And yet I can't seem to even get my foot in the door for an interview in most cases. I've had some interviews, even made it to the final 2 of one position (where they ended up hiring someone else from inside, so, yeah...). But mostly it has been one rejection after another.

And at this point, I don't know what else to do. Try to get a job flipping burgers? I'm not even sure they'd hire me. I'm either over qualified for something or under qualified for another.

There are a whole series of issues related to this job hunt: the United Methodist Church itinerancy process and the apparent lack of common sense associated with said process, social isolation, financial problems, family stress, having to drive 25-30 minutes to practically anything, etc.

But the issue weighing most heavily on me is this: what in the world am I doing with my life? 

I don't know, most of the time. If I had a choice, I think I would most enjoy travelling the world with a group of friends having adventures and experiencing awesome things. Sadly, I don't think anyone is going to pay me for that, so I'm left trying to find other gainful employment that I find fulfilling. Which, for me, means that it has to have some sort of positive impact on the world. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. Some way, some small way, where I can make this world a better place. It's just part of who I am. Part of my faith that, as a follower of Christ, it is incumbent upon me to help, to serve, to make this world more like the Kingdom.

Finding that balance between paying the bills and making a difference is a challenge. And at this point, I am just so frustrated at the 9+ months of spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. As soon as we found out where we were moving, I started looking for job prospects. And I'm still in the exact same spot.

You can make a human being in 9 months. My last 9 months have given birth to nothing but frustration, demoralization and an intense wrestling over my self worth. I know without a doubt that I can be a worthwhile addition to a non-profit or college. But at this point they don't yet seem to agree. So am I just way off base in my self-evaluation? Am I doing something wrong in the application process? Is it really impossible to change your career field (and if so, someone please let college students know before they leave)?

I wake up each day wondering if this will be the day that a job offer comes through. If I'm employable. If things are going to get better. If we will ever truly adjust to living in the middle of nowhere with no friends in the area. 

If there's a point to any of the last 9+ months.

And that's really hard.