March 17, 2012

Sensing Change

I don't like change. I am not an agent of change nor do I like to be apart of anything that has the potential to change. It is funny (curiously) that I am the way that I am, because in reality nothing stays the same except for the Lord:

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8 KJV

There is nothing in our world or in our person that remains static. We live in constant flux, shifting, changing, and adapting to the minutia of molecular structures that exist in our periphery. We are either battling change (as in trying to keep the weight off) or planning change (as in getting pregnant or attempting to stop smoking). Change is all around us, and it impacts us each day.

Consider the freeway. How often do you drive on the highway near your home? For me, it is a constant variable -- with constancy meaning that I must drive the freeway to and from work each day. I get on at Union Hills and I get off at 32nd street. I make a 16 mile one-way trip every morning at 6:30 and every afternoon at 3:30. Yet, despite the constancy, I never know what my daily drive will be. Today it might be smooth sailing, so to speak, all the way into work. No accidents, no slow downs -- the "time to the tunnel estimated at 13 minutes" or it could be one accident after another with my commute zooming from 25 minutes upwards of one hour or more. It just depends on how many people decide to get on the road and how many conflicts (lane issues, car issues or other unknowables) take place at the exact same time when I am on the road. It is a miracle, really, to think that I am able to make it to work at all. I thank God for my car, and I thank Him for travelling Mercy each day.

Even though I don't know what to expect when I get on the freeway, I do not fear driving to work. It is something I MUST do each day. I work, I get paid, and I need that paycheck so I can live and take care of myself and my son. I MUST do it, so I JUST do it.

In other areas of my life, however, I find that I am almost crippled by the fear of change. I want some things to remain the same for ever. For example, I did not want to become a single person after 25 years of marriage (now almost 28). I wanted that part of my life, the part where I was in union with a husband/companion to remain for all my days. I also wanted to keep my life as it was -- same home -- same occupation; but that changed too. I lost my business due to the enconomy, and I lost my home due to foreclosure. In a short two years, I went from married to single, employed to unemployed, home owner to renter. Major change in a very small amount of time is by far the most difficult to deal with and the most challenging to overcome.

I did it because of my great faith in God. Not that my faith was GREAT, but rather that my faith was placed in a GREAT GOD who was able to make my life settled even when it seemed very unsettled to me.

Now, I am on the other side of that major change, yet I still fear anything that might cause my life to take a hit again. My biggest concern now is losing my job. Though I really do not consider this as a high possibility, it looms in the back of my mind simply because it is up to me to keep it. Well, that is not even true -- the Lord keeps me where He wants me, and my responsibility is to do the work assigned (I do the work, the Lord oversees my placement and career progression).

As I consider my options for graduate school, I am now thinking "what if" as in what if I end up out of work at the University of Phoenix and stuck in a program that is not necessarily my best fit? Will I want to invest money, my own (borrowed of course) to pay for a program that may or may not advance my career or provide me with advanced interest in a topic I am passionately all about? Truthfully, the answer is no. I have considered my ways carefully, and the reason I was planning on getting my PhD at UOPX was because I received a significant waiver for tuition. It would have made getting a PhD outrageously easy. Not that the work would have been easy, just the fact that I would have had to borrow a minimum amount and I would have completed the entire program online (and able to use my lunch hour and breaks for classtime).

Now, if I consider that sometime between year one and five, I might be looking for another job, where does that leave me? Am I satisfied with that option, with that focus, with completing a PhD in Higher Education just for the sole reason that it was affordable for me to do it? The hard light of reality says "NO." I will not be satisfied, and I will always wonder if I was truly able to do any other kind of degree, namely English.

The past couple weeks have been difficult, challenging, and filled with uncertainty. I blogged last week (or thereabouts) about my new boss, and the big UNKNOWN of working with a different kind of leadership style. My new boss has arrived, and he is a nice guy. I like him, and I have no doubts as to what kind of leader he will attempt to be for our group. Nothing really has changed, other than I have a new person sitting at the end of my row. He will still coach me, review my progress, and guide me in my career progression, just as my other manager did. His emphasis is the same -- do your work, don't slouch off, don't take advantage of the company. OK, I don't do any of those things, but the grind is getting to me. The goal is to make 100 calls per day, averaging 100 per week. I did the math yesterday on the drive home, only to realize that if you are to average 100 per dials, then you have to do that every day or else the math doesn't work out (consider: 100 dials times 5 days = 500 dials; average is 500/5 or 100). Duh? I didn't pass college math for nothing -- I have been mislead into believing that so long as you AVERAGE your dials you would be ok. I did a test this week, and here is what led me to this conclusion:

353 dials/ 4.5 days = 78.4 dials average (I worked 4.5 days due to a team builder afternoon event)

So this week, I busted my backside to get my work done. I REGd two students for April, bringing my total to 5, with potential of 7 more starts. I only made 78.4 dials on average and I was on the phone talking 2.66 hours per day on average (again, math is 12 hours/4.5 days = 2.66 hours average). The goal is 3 hours of talk time.

In a nutshell, my goal is 100 dials/3 hours talk time and 4-5 reg's per month

It is unspoken, but the emphasis has been on these three items since January. I finally got enough confirmation from various sources to lead me to believe that these are the numbers expected, and that low performers will be the first to go if the company lays off employees in 2012 (they let go 700 in 2011). Things have improved, but the numbers are low again, so could that signal a lay off in summer 2012? Not sure, but this I know: I cannot keep this pace up, I simply cannot.

I come home from work exhausted. I fall asleep in the chair every single night around 8:30. I am up at 5:00 the next morning, and I walk around like a zombie the rest of the time. I am beat, and I am bushed, and I cannot see myself keeping up like this for much longer.

My hope was that I could find another position within the company. I was told that I could start applying when I had 6 months in the job. Now, though, while that might be true -- the up seems to be that you can do that, but it is better to wait until 1 year or more. That is July/August for me, and while that is my plan, I am now considering other options for work. I need to find a different kind of job, a job that is less pressure, less mentally challenging, and will be less -- everything.

Macy's was grueling, but it was a no brainer. I worked at Macy's because Macy's hired me and gave me an opportunity for good work. I killed myself physically working there -- the pain alone was beyond description. I still suffer hip and thigh pain, but it is now infrequent. Macy's was good, but I knew that I couldn't do a job on my feet all day -- not anymore.

UOPX is the opposite. I like that it is a desk job. I sit at my desk all day, and I am content -- my back hurts from sitting long periods, so I can get up when I want and walk around. However, the mental grind of dialing the phone, leaving 80-100 voicemails is too much. My mind goes to sleep, and I simply do the work.

You'd think that talking with students would be good, and for the most part, this is true. I get potentially 2-3 calls a day from new students. They may be interested, they may not. I may get 10 minutes or 30 minutes on the phone with them. It may be pleasant, it may not. The rest of the time, I am calling and leaving messages.

I am eating my words now -- I asked the Lord for good practical work -- twice to be specific. I asked, I begged, and I pleaded with Him to provide me with a job, any job, that would provide good practical work for me to do. Don't get me wrong, I am blessed. The Lord has blessed me in each job He allowed me to take. At Macy's the Lord enabled me to do that work, that difficult work and find favor with my peers and managers. At UOPX, the Lord enabled me to learn how to enroll students, learn how to do the work and do it well. I am blessed, I am producing good work, and my peers and managers see it.

The issue is that in both cases, the Lord specifically asked me if I was willing to do the work. I said YES. Then He asked me if I was willing to do the work EVEN if I didn't necessarily like it or it was difficult to do. I said YES. In both cases, the Lord clearly told me that the work was difficult and that I would not necessarily like it. I didn't want to wait for Him to provide something else, so I said YES, YES, YES to the option of working NOW.

I recall my conversation with the Lord, and it was clearly spoken to me in my spirit, that the job was not of "His Choosing." The job was acceptable to Him, but it was not a good fit for me. I was to wait. I was tired of waiting, I didn't want to wait another minute or day. It had been 18 months of waiting, and I was growing impatient. I wanted to be set free. I wanted out of my marriage, out of my house, and out from under everyone and everything that I considered oppressing to me. I wanted a new job, a new home, and a new life.

I was ready for it, I believed I could do it, and I gave the Lord honor for providing all of the above to me. I am still thanking Him, still giving Him honor, and still believing that He is able to do all things through me. I am willing, I am ready, I am content.

Change. Change scares me. I don't want to change, but I sense that change is coming on me -- and rapidly. I am at the end of my graduate studies at Mercy College, and I am afraid of doing my final paper. I don't know what I am doing. I am not even participating in my last graduate course as I should. I am slacking off, and I am so upset with myself. I am trying to do everything that He wants me to do, and I am failing miserably. I don't want to change. I don't want to go through anything else.

Inside of me, I feel that I am being pulled in one direction. It is not that I don't want to go, more so, it is as if someone is pulling me hard to get me to move forward, and I am standing still. It is like when you were a kid, and you were standing there when a friend comes along, grabs you by the jacket and just yanks you towards him. He wants you to go with him, to follow, and you are stuck, you are not moving. He drags you, literally drags you, and you may yell "Hey, stop -- I am not ready!" He still pulls you, and you either stick to your guns and set your feet and do not move, or you relent and you go with him.

I guess I am sticking to my feet. I say I want to go. I say I am ready. The Lord asks me -- "Are you ready?" I say YES. Then a big hand pulls me, yanks at me to follow, and my head is not turning -- it is looking backward. I don't want to turn around, but that arm is pulling me towards Him. I want to go after Him, of course I do, but I am stuck. I am stuck in a place where I feel comfortable, and I don't want to go anywhere else.

Change brings discomfort. Change alters our perspective and makes us feel out of place for a time. It can be a good thing, it can bring new opportunities, and it can change our path or our focus. It can be a really good thing. It can also be difficult, be challenging, and cause us to TRUST when we don't think we can or feel like we are able to do so.

TRUST. TRUST ME. RELY ON ME. BELIEVE IN ME.

I hear these words in my head, and I know the Lord is telling me to trust Him. I say YES even when my heart falters. I want so much to trust Him, to believe Him. And why shouldn't I do that -- I have been walking in faith for a long time, and He has brought me to this place safely time and time and time again.

He is worthy of my TRUST. He is worthy of my RELIANCE. He is worthy of my BELIEF.

He has proven Himself to me -- there is no more proof necessary. He has shown me His way, He has called me to Him, and He is asking me to go with Him.

Dear Lord,

I surrender all to you. I realize that I am afraid of changing the plans, of going in another direction. I am basing my feelings on fear, which simply is couched in unreal expections or anticipation of unreal events. You are GOD, and I believe in YOU. I trust YOU. I want to follow after YOU today. Give me the GRACE to follow you, and to go where you are sending me. I rely on your judgment and your expertise. I need your provision today. I ask this now in the Name of Jesus, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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