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Choosing Big

By |July 31st, 2013|

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7

I’m a “take the open door” type of guy.

So when I got offered $45,000 a year to be a regional manager in the field I’d spent 4 years specializing in, of course I prayed about it.

For a minute.

Because I’m a “take the open door” type of guy, I don’t often think that God opens doors in front of me so I can refuse to use them (assuming there is nothing immoral about the decision).

So I left the job in which I’d worked very hard to establish a solid reputation. This was my first real job, the first time I’d worked over a year at ANY job. And all of a sudden, I’d been there for 6 years. I’m not ashamed to admit I had “greener grass goggles.” You know, those lenses that only show how much better things are everywhere else but here? And I thought Hey, I’ve paid my dues. I’m smart–not a complete idiot; I know how to talk nicely to people, and I know how to generally convince people to do their job right. Don’t get me wrong; I was grateful. But I had… outgrown my little ambitions.

This was my chance to go big, or go home–back to the grass that wasn’t quite as green..

I chose big and shiny.

After a few weeks, I began to see things that bothered me. Nobody seemed to have a consistent moral code of ethics or a standard of professional behavior. How bad was officewide discipline? The boss didn’t even follow his own dress code. There was no code of conduct other than “get the darn job done.” But I endured it. Within weeks, the culture began to take its toll on my character. Unearned praise made me feel powerful, important, and my ego inflated like a hot air balloon. I’ve known for a long time that my talent can take me places my character can’t sustain. Nevertheless, somehow this took me by surprise.

 

I yelled at an employee when he made a mistake that I thought might get me fired. I used bad language, and made him feel like crap. At that point, I would like to say that I recognized what was happening, and made a graceful exit. Nope. I had walked through this open door, so I was not going to quit. Of course I knew I’d been way out of line. But at that point, I was scrambling to prove to a boss I didn’t respect that I could do the job that I was rapidly beginning to dislike.

A few weeks later, I got fired. After four consecutive weeks of being yelled at over the phone, cussed out and belittled over and over, being fired actually came as a relief.

I immediately (and thankfully) got a job at a competing company. Nine months after that, a strange break-in to the company car got me fired again, and, almost exactly a year after leaving my first job, found myself back in the familiar office, with familiar people, with a familiar computer screen staring back at me.

It felt, in a way, like coming home. Like creaking into the comfort of a favorite armchair after prolonged disuse. And I’m doing my current job well there. I regret leaving. So badly.

Remember that part about me wondering why God would open a door in front of me and not expect me to leap through it? Part of me knows that my failure taught me more powerful lessons than success could have. The other part of me wishes I didn’t have the memories of losing myself to the depraved culture of a company with no “human” in human resources. I’m not blaming them for my mistakes; On the contrary, I blame myself for not recognizing the immanent danger I leapt into without deep consideration.

I’m sure God knew that I would fail, and fail miserably, and I’m also sure He knew I would realize my inability to succeed apart from Him. But I wish I could have learned the lesson the easy way!

I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with marriage.

I think, actually, a lot. In a couple different ways:

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“I Got Your Back” Love

By |July 23rd, 2013|

My wife walked into the house with our daughter late, after Bible study, obviously flustered and upset. So after putting the kid to bed, we talked, and she vented to me about her visit to the stables with the person who bought her horse several years ago.

She had apparently endured a very rough and candid conversation about how Raindancer, her old friend, hadn’t been living up to the potential she expected from him to achieve. Part of the decision to sell him was so that he would be ridden and loved and taken care of, and encouraged to be all that he could be.

So hearing this news was obviously a bit devastating. The horse she’d ridden for years earlier in life in competition and come to love and cherish is suffering.

I watched her face as she began to cry. This was a big deal. She was grieving the tribulation of a beloved companion. She reminisced to me, tears streaming down her cheeks, about how she used to find an open space with Dancer and just let him run free and let loose.

She gazed at a spot somewhere above my head, off in the distance, and told me how she remembered feeling the speed and power beneath her as they rode, together, feeling the wind, seeing the racing ground underneath.

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How to [NOT] Have a Great Marriage, Part 2: The Early Years

By |July 13th, 2013|

Recently, my wife and I have come out of a rather dark period in our marriage. So many issues contributed: call it the seven year itch, call it extended family stress, call it the fires of the marital learning curve–it was tough. I’m sure there will be many more pits to jump over or wade through as we traverse longer years yet…fighting the good fight we must!

But we learned something that would have been nice to know from the beginning: That passionate disagreement is essential.

We went through our early marriage for years avoiding the discussion of bothering issues that got under our skin, and avoidance fermented into bitterness. As a result of our lapses in authentic communication, we did several things that further complicated the issue.

We followed these easy steps to make things harder (a.k.a worse):

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