June 27, 2015

Learning to Let Go...Again!

It is a beautiful Saturday in Phoenix, AZ. The sun is partly shining, so there is just a hint of grayness in the skies. Actually, the partly cloudy skies should help to beat the heat today. I am hopeful, so very hopeful.

I slept pretty well last night. I think one of the reasons why I slept so well is that I finished my Leadership Theory and Communication course, and I had a great conversation with my Chair regarding my dissertation topic. All of this to say that some of the pressure from school has been lifted, and I feel more relaxed and relieved. I still have two classes in progress, but both of these courses do not have a weekly discussion board requirement, so I am able to work on the remaining assignments at my leisure. In general, I feel good because 1/3 of my studies this summer are completed (praise God!) Now to wait for my grade to post, and then I can focus on what is left to do on my to-do list.

Learning to Let God Reign

Yes, I am back to square one on learning to let God be the Lord of my life. I know I say this often, so it is clearly a lesson I struggle to learn, but I am not doing well with the whole "God is in control" bit right now. Please hear me out, though, because I am not saying that I don't believe God is in control. I do, I really do! It is just that I am finding it difficult to stay in His peace because the cares of the world are falling heavy all around me. I am a good one for saying "God has me covered," and on most days, I feel this way. I feel so secure in His blessed hand. Then there are other days when I start to panic over the "what might be in my future," and I begin to falter and I think "Oh, Lord, what is happening to me, what will happen to me!"

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful" (Colossians 3:15 NLT)

I was reading a blog today on how to handle panic attacks. I am not having a full-on panic attack, per se, but rather the inkling of one. I used to suffer from panic attacks when I was a young person, and I am familiar with the whole process. I learned to deal with them a number of years ago, so right now, what I feel is this stirring in the pit of my stomach, and the uneasiness that accompanies it. It is a feeling that says to me "You are headed for a fall, Carol. Watch out!"

This rumbling is the start of panic, and this is something I haven't experienced in a good 2-3 years. As hard as that may sound, it is true. The last pre-panic attack I had was when I was working at CVS Caremark in 2013. I remember praying to the Lord one day after work. I was heading home and I was driving up through North Scottsdale, trying to avoid some of the rush hour traffic. I remember saying to the Lord, "Lord, I don't ever want to feel this way again. I don't want to panic again." I remember saying to Him that I was so tired of living like this, always fearful, always worried, and always panicked over the "what ifs" in my life. 

In truth, I had spent the previous 30 years living this way, partly due to my own experiences in childhood, and the fact that I lived in a tenuous financial situation whereby I never had "enough" income to live comfortably (minimally comfortable). I was always going without, having to tighten my belt, always having to make choices about whether to eat this or that (and going with the least expensive option). I had prayed to the Lord, and I had said then that I never wanted to be poor again. Granted, my version of poor and that of what we might consider true poverty are vastly different. I had a roof over my head, and I did have food on my table. Yes, often my electricity bill wasn't paid, my gas was turned off, and my car was not registered or insured. I drove on borrowed time, I lived from one pay period to the next, I robbed Peter to pay Paul. I didn't like living that way, and I begged the Lord to help me so that I would never live like that again.

I felt that I lived that way, not by choice, but by default. My ex-husband believed that the only work he could do was to be self-employed. He liked living "under the wire," as he called it. He didn't want the government to know his business, he would say, so that meant that he lived on cash, personal checks, and no credit. He liked hiding, and he felt that this way, he was protecting his rights as a US citizen. It was one of the reasons why he forbade me to get our son a SS card. He said the government didn't need to know he existed. The problem, of course, was that no one knew he existed so he wasn't able to go to get health care, to find a part-time job, or eventually go to college, without one. I finally took the reigns and got my son a card so he could get his driver's license, and then later, travel on a mission trip. I never wanted to live incognito. I never signed up for that kind of life when I said "I do."

When I got married, my ex had a really good job. He was a sales manager, and he made decent income. I worked for a tech firm, and I made good money too. Together, we had the makings of a modest, but happy life. However, after a couple years into the marriage, my ex told me that he had no intention of working for any one ever again. No, he was going to make his own way, and he was going to be self-employed. At first, it was fine. I was working, and we were still living off our savings. However, it became very apparent that we couldn't live on my $6 an hour job. We needed his salary to pay the bills. The cycle of paying, not paying, paying, not paying, started in 1988, and it didn't end until I took control of my life in 2010. Yes, once we had separated, I took control of my life, and I began to earn my own income, manage my own money and accounts, and pay my own bills. 

It took a while at first because I was working part-time. But in time, the Lord provided a good job for me, and I started to earn a salary. I panicked every single month when my bills were due. I panicked at the thought of defaulting, which to me, was like cutting my arm off. I mean it. I know people that say "So what? Everyone does this at some point." No, not everyone. Not my parents. Not the people I know who live within their means. Now, I am not coming down on folks who get behind, because this does happen, and for a myriad of reasons. I am just saying that so long as it can be helped, falling behind shouldn't happen unless there is a good reason. And, even then, it should be a temporary situation, not a permanent one. In my case, it was a permanent way of life -- by choice -- not because of circumstance. And, this life choice rankled my old fashioned Midwestern upbringing that said "If you cannot pay on time then don't borrow the money." Yes, my Father raised me to be responsible, and I think the reason I struggle so much with this issue now, is that I consider my life choice of adjunct teaching as irresponsible.

It is funny how things work out, I mean, before I started this blog post, I prayed to the Lord and I said, "Lord, I want this to stop. Please let me get to the root of this issue today." The Lord is good, so very good, and when you ask Him for His help, and you sincerely seek His wisdom and guidance, He will be faithful to supply it. So I asked for clarification, for help, so that I could learn to let go and let Him be the Lord over my life. I asked, and He answered. The root cause of all my panic, all my worry, and all my struggle is this...

I believe that leaving a good paying corporate job to become a college professor was irresponsible and foolish. 

There, I said it. No more hiding, no more second-guessing. I made a choice back in 2013 that put me in the position I am in today, where I barely make ends meet, and where I am relying on the Lord for His provision. I have tried to justify my choice, to say that it was better for me, for my schooling, etc., and while this is true in many ways, the fact remains that I am in a difficult position because of a choice I made. Furthermore, I asked the Lord to let me "try out teaching," so that I could know for certain that it was what I did or did not want to do. I asked Him, no I begged Him, and He gave me my desire. I became a graduate assistant first, followed by an adjunct teacher next. I am in this same position now, and while the experience has proved fruitful, and I have learned quite a bit, I am faced with the fact and the fear that I cannot make ends meet in this line of work. Sure, there is a possibility of teaching full-time, of a career as a full-time instructor, and I am hopeful that it will come to pass soon. However, I also know that I cannot teach full-time or will not be able to teach full-time until I am ABD or PhD. Even then, I may find it difficult to find full-time work. There is no guarantee, yet I believe that the Lord will provide, He will provide.

Until then, I am stuck in this role. I have asked the Lord to move me out of teaching and into a full-time position within higher education. This seems a closed door to me, so I have to pursue the path I am on for a time. Daily, it is a struggle for me, though. I mean, I look at my bank account as it drops by hundreds of dollars each week, and I know that there will be no new income until September. How much longer can I survive on the funds that I have in my account? It was better last year, but this year, well, it is very tight, very close to the line, and this panics me greatly.

I want so to be in control of my life, to no longer worry about where the money is coming from and when I will get paid. I am living in the same way that I lived when I was married, with the only difference being that the choice this time around, was mine. It was all my doing, at my own hand, and I am suffering because of my own stubbornness and refusal to do what the Lord clearly asked me to do. Yes, the Lord provided a job for me at a company that was growing, and that would have provided a good way for me. The work was boring, difficult, and I sat all day long -- with nothing to do. I hated the work, and I didn't like the job that much. In the end, I asked to go back to Grand Canyon, to teach and to follow that other path that seemed better, seemed right.

I am still not sure why the Lord gave me a great job, making excellent income, but with non stimulating and unchallenging work. Suffice it to say, He did it. He is Sovereign, and He knows His own mind.

I have begged, pleaded, and prayed for the Lord to fix this problem, to change my situation, to provide other work for me to do. He is silent. He hasn't moved. He is steady. I hear His voice, and He says to me "Rest." I know what that means; it means "let go and let me be God." Yes, Lord. I know you are God, and I know you know what is best. 

I am at the breaking point right now. I am back to where I was all those years ago when I refused to do the work the Lord provided for me to do. I wanted my own way, the way that was easy, convenient, and comfortable. I don't like this way, I don't like this feeling, and I want it to stop. I want it to end now.

As I consider my role in all of this, I cannot help but think the Lord has a lesson in it for me. I am to learn to trust Him (to have faith), and to rest (to let go and let Him be). I do not know if I have learned it yet, but I am praying that I have because I am tired of these feelings, and I want to get off this ride. I want to experience the peace of God again, peace that rules and reigns in every area of my life. I want to go His way, and I want to work in His job choice for me. I want to relent, to repent, and to turn around and follow after Him. I relent, Lord. I relent.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I have learned my lesson (again), and I have decided that no matter what I choose, even if the job is within your will, there will be elements that will be unpleasant to me. I have learned that what matters most to me is to be responsible and in control (under your authority). I want to pay my way, to be responsible, and to be a person of integrity. I also want to care for my family well, to provide and meet their needs, and I cannot do that on the meager salary I earn each semester. I recognize that teaching has been beneficial to me, it has helped me to learn how to speak in public, and to develop plans and curriculum. I have enjoyed teaching for the most part, but now I am ready to return to solid work, to a job where I can do good work, and get paid a fair wage. I guess I am agreeing with you that at this point in my life, I am too late to the game. It is not that I cannot teach or that I never will teach, but rather it is that I have realized that to get to where I need to be -- financially secure -- I need to earn significant income regularly, every other week, so that I can rest and know I am being honorable with my finances. I ask now that you would do whatever you feel is best to right my situation. I relent, and I accept that it might mean I will have to work 40 hours a week, with only two weeks off at a time. I will give up my holidays and my summers. I will live like the majority of people do -- working full-time. I think about this, and I know that while I will miss have big blocks of time off, the truth is that I like to work, to do projects, and to be a leader. I ask now that you will provide a job for me that will accomplish your will, provide well for me and my family, and permit me (in your time) to relocate to be near my love. Until then, I will remain where I am, living as you provide, and waiting on your provision for my life. Thank you, Lord, thank you for your mercy, your peace, and your presence in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen. So be it! Selah!

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