My Life’s Work Part I

by Priscilla on August 6, 2017

Several springs ago, my SIL invited me to attend a women’s retreat entitled Run Hard, Rest Well. The message centered around women, especially mothers, taking the time to find a sacred space to be still and know. I was still in the throes of adjusting to my life as a single mom, and I sat staring around the sanctuary filled with lovely women of all ages, who, too, needed to hear this message of rest, but I didn’t see them as individuals.  I saw “them.”  I saw I was not like “them,” and loneliness, once again set up camp on my heart.  Not one of them were unkind or rude to me, but, you see, if you are divorced or widowed or “still-single-at-a-certain-age,” sometimes, in some places, for no reason at all, the feeling of not belonging creeps into your soul. I’ve come to accept the fact that it’s no one’s fault; it’s simply one of the many avenues Grief sometimes uses push itself out of hiding and into first chair, and in my case, this Grief brought me to tears.

At lunch time, I couldn’t join the others. I needed some time to get the tears out where no one could see me, and I knew I’d be fine.  But it wasn’t to be, and as I sat and wept in a chair in the middle of a church while others were chatting  in a large reception room over sandwiches and coffee, the speaker wandered in and saw me. She approached and asked if were okay.  I nodded that I was just fine, but that I didn’t know how on earth I was supposed to “Rest Well.”  “My husband walked out on me.  I have two girls. I’m having a hard time finding good work with decent benefits to keep a roof over my kids’ heads because I’ve been out of the job market for a while. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m smart and motivated. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had many different careers and can adapt to any situations thanks to my time as a military spouse.  All employers see is that gap of years when I wasn’t working full time. I chose to stay home with my children so my husband could have the career he wanted, and now I’m left holding the bag, and I have no idea how I’m going to survive, much less, ‘Rest Well.'” As I babbled to this complete stranger, the trickle of tears became a sobbing river.

The speaker did what I find all wise women in such situations do, she said the simple words, “May I pray for you you?” She wrapped an arm around my heaving, heavy shoulders, and together we sat at the throne of Grace unpacking and unloading my burdens.  I listened to her prayers for strength and courage and guidance, we finished our brief time together, I thanked her for her taking the time to encourage a sister and she excused herself to join the others at lunch.

I sat, once again alone in the sanctuary, and  the Still Small Voice whispered, “I have something I want you to ask for.”

I listened.

“I want you to ask for a house on a lake where you and the girls can live, where don’t have to pay a mortgage and utilities. I want you to ask for a place where you can write.”

And what usually happens in that situation happened.  God and I had words.  More to the point, I had words. Words like “Are you crazy? I can’t even find full time work, and I’m supposed to find a lake house. Have you seen the real estate market? And who has time to write?! I’m teaching during the day, freelancing whenever I get the chance, getting the girls to all their activities and trying to keep this house clean and food on the table!”

The Still Small Voice repeated, “I want you to ask for a house on a lake where you and the girls can live, where don’t have to pay a mortgage and utilities. I want you to ask for a place where you can write.”

So I did. I continued to do so…for about a week.  A week is about my limit  for repeating nut jobesque prayers to the Creator.

Time passed.  I continued to look for work while trying to become re-certified to teach in my state. (Dear State of Indiana, don’t make it so hard for intelligent, hardworking moms who stepped out of the classroom for a while to raise a family, to step back in. You’re really shooting yourself in the foot here.) Money was growing tighter and tighter, and one day I was shared my frustrations with a librarian at the school where I was a teacher’s aid. “You know Priscilla, the trouble is you shouldn’t be running a classroom.  You should be running the entire show. You need to be a CEO.”

I stared stupidly at this abrupt comment. I’d come to love this no-nonsense woman over our irreverent conversations about books and kids and life in general.  She continued.  “I’m serious.  You need to be a CEO. You have great ideas. You see the big picture. You see solutions to problems. You don’t put up with crap. People like you. You need to be a CEO.”

I laughed and walked away, and her CEO words got on the bus and traveled to the same destination as my Lake House prayer  – the lovely resort town of Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That. Everyone knows that CEOs need MBAs  I have an MBA- minus the M.

More.Time.Passed. While I tried to no avail to find work in the same town in which I was living so the girls and I could stay in our home, a friend approached me with a job offer for full time work.  I’d been doing part time marketing on the side for him for the Y camp he ran, but camp was growing and needed someone with my background to run marketing and development. It was the camp my father attended as a child, and it’s where he first learned to dream big. It was the camp where I started my faith walk thanks to the loving words of a guitar playing Methodist minister known as “Chaplain John,” and it was the camp where my girls attended every summer and came home all smiles and giggles.  “Mom, whenever we drive down the road to camp, it’s feels like we’re going home!” they’d tell me every time I’d drop them off for a week or two. (When the movie of my life comes out, and Ashley Judd or Diane Lane – playing the part of me -is driving the car into camp there needs to be sweeping music behind those words. Please take note.)

“Just think about it, Priscilla…if nothing else works out.”

Well, I thought about working at camp about as long as I prayed for a lake house and entertained the idea of being CEO one day.  My daughters had been through enough transitions with their dad leaving.  And now, for crying out loud, they were in middle school.  I couldn’t up and go in the middle of middle school…I mean….it’s MIDDLE SCHOOL! (Even though military kids do it all the time, even though  children worldwide the same ages as my daughters are forced to move because of war, famine and threats of being sold into slavery. Why on God’s Green Earth is American culture obsessed with teenage angst that doesn’t have to be? Shame on us! But that’s another lecture for another time.)

I continued to look for work that wasn’t there…not because it wasn’t physically there, but because unbeknownst to me God still had this Lake House idea on his mind and had busied His angels to run around slamming doors of what I thought were opportunity shut right in my face at every turn.  They shut, and shut and shut until I was finally only left with one door, so I called me friend, and said, “Look, I can’t find work. The state is giving me the run-around on my teaching certification, and I don’t have time or energy to wait around for them, so if you still want me to come work for you, I will.”

-Intermission-

 

 

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason August 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Intermissions suck…

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Cassandra August 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Finish!

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Tammy Ray Sanders August 6, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Looking forward to Part II. Loving how you share what God has done and is doing in your and the girls’ lives.

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Cammie August 6, 2017 at 9:36 pm

So cruel. Part II NOW!!! (I binge watch so I’m accustomed to instant gratification.)

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Mary Ann August 7, 2017 at 1:24 am

So glad I know the rest of this story. You are amazing in so many ways! Thankful our paths crossed!

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