How do you do anything without support and affirmation? Well, it can be nearly impossible. In 2008, my family and I were attending a church in which the leadership and congregation seemed to only affirm what they thought someone should be doing. The events that transpired in this series (Enough), took us away from Music Ministry, Men’s Ministry, and Nursery. We were burned out and finally ready to admit it.
And they did not care for our lack of contribution. Interestingly enough, I noticed that we were never “noticed” unless we weren’t there. Here’s what I mean:
Say you miss a few weeks of Sunday morning gatherings. You return to drop the kids of on Wednesday or you attend the next gathering. “We missed seeing you here.” Does that rub you the wrong way? It does me. Why the qualifier? Why here? Why not a phone call to make sure I don’t need something – that I’m not dead?!?!
Later that year, we ceased attending. I won’t get into the specifics, but the first attempt at reaching out to us was when our membership lapsed (a year later!). Frankly, I didn’t care. We were not members or attending elsewhere. All that mattered was that we were not attending there.
Back to the story.
This move into counseling was made without the input of those with whom we had been rubbing elbows for 5 years. Not that we didn’t have counsel, just not from them. And much more affirming counsel. A worldwide community. Community brings life.
I won’t bore you with school details, but rather resolve this tale by sharing how I transitioned from Industrial Engineer to Outpatient Counselor.
I’m also a college intern at the substance abuse clinic. (BONUS!) But my road to getting there was not only interesting, it was paved with blessing. Last September, my bride and I budgeted for an internship. These are generally unpaid with zero benefits. “Do the work, get the hours, finish the class.”. What would 6 months of me being unemployed look like while she’s working retail for 20-25 hours a week?
We developed a budget and a plan. And gave ourselves until September 1, 2013 to get there (in order to collect my 2 weeks’ vacation payout as well). With the counsel of many who have sought internships before, I began applying for an internship in October. I have no idea how many emails, letters, and phone calls I made, but I finally got a call back in early March – on my cell phone, at the office where 5 people even knew I was in school. Here’s what that sounded like:
Director: I’m looking over your resume for internship. I don’t want you to be an intern; I want to interview you for a job.
Me: Like, with pay? <– moment of vulnerability and shock
Director: Yes, and benefits, and then we can talk about internship.
Me: You can probably tell you’ve caught me off guard. I’m in the middle of something now with my current position. May I call you back later, please?
A few short weeks later, I was interviewed and got the job. Starting May 1. And we had no way to make the financial goal we set with that accelerated time frame. None. Not without a huge bit of financial blessing. Not to mention, my bride’s car died in February and now we had a car payment we hadn’t considered.
But, on May 1, we had every dollar to the account that we needed according to our budget and plan. Every. Last. Dollar. And I still had some vacation payout coming!
Back at the engineering gig, I had turned in my letter of resignation to a director who called me immediately, “Are you serious?” Yep. “Do you mind me asking where you’re going?” Leaving engineering to work with drug addicts. “Are you serious?” Yep. “Do you mind telling me how this happened? Is it me? Is this something recent?” Mountaintop experience, no, and no. So, we announced to the other 6 engineers on the team and then the management team where I was located. Only 8 people in the entire company had known before this. 8. In a company of over 50,000. Just 8.
And several expressed that they wished they could do what they really wanted to do, too. That’s some affirmation – and community.