January 2015, the last wheel had fallen off my cart of independence, and my son and I were faced with that disappointing drive home to start over. You know the one- the “I’ve got to move back in with my [mom, dad, parents or whoever] again”. Several months of disappointments and bad news led up to this point, but having to resign from a 20+-hour-turned-3-hour-per-week fabric retail job that eventually went bankrupt, finished the picture puzzle of me going back to where I said I would never go back again. Isn’t it funny how as soon as you say “never,” life sets out to make a liar out of you? The saying is, “never say ‘never'”.
Here I was having to go back home to mommy and start over. God had allowed me to experience a different kind of loss- from college student to “college drop-out”, from car to bicycle, from 20+ hours per week to 3 hours per week on my already part-time job, from happy family-like neighbor and church relationships to tense and severed relationships with collapsed bridges. The start-over was intense. The feeling of defeat and failure swept over me as the last bit of money to my name was used to rent a moving truck to move what belongings I could afford to take with me. Some of my favorite pieces of furniture were given away to close friends as there would be no room for them at my mom’s. There was no money for storage.
That month and a half was cold…and not because it was technically still winter. Tension, failure, defeat, disappointment and the feeling that more than one was a crowd, kept me anxiously awaiting the necessary documents to arrive so that an inexpensive cash car could be purchased. The car came. The job came. The online school enrollment came. The juggling started up again. Now the new routine was to work hard and smart, make permanent on the job, get an apartment, etc, etc, basically rebuild my life.
One day, I was skimming through my email inbox, bored with nothing better to do. Many of the emails, I’d signed up to receive, of course, but that meant nothing as I often didn’t read them or at least not in their entirety. Several online job sites had my resume, but one in particular was my favorite because although it had a social interaction side to it, it remained very professional.
This site had sent me an email. Usually, I would bypass emails from job sites including my favorite because at that time, unemployment was not an issue. However, for some reason, this email caught my eye. Doesn’t it feel strange to linger over an email, contemplating whether or not to click on it when nothing seems special about it? This feeling I like to credit to the Holy Spirit. I could not pass it up! *click* This email was read in its entirety as it slightly piqued my interest. What’s more, a nudge arose inside me to call! In my head, my thoughts were saying, “What!? This is crazy! Why call and waste these people’s time when you already have a job!? You’re not going anywhere.” (Meaning “You’re not bold enough to leave the job you just got, especially in your situation!”)
Dear reader, as you know, this site is branded “Looking for God #HEISEVERYWHERE”, so please allow me to share with you how I found God…in the opportunity.
The nudge was wearing me out as I began pacing back and forth on my mom’s front porch. You better stop pacing back and forth before someone thinks you’re crazy. “Argh! Decisions, decisions! Lord, what should I do? Should I call? Should I reply to this email? Obtaining a little information can’t hurt, right?” Isn’t it odd how we ask God if we should do something that HE’s clearly telling us to do? Where is trust and boldness when fear and doubt try to crash the party? Find them. Embrace them.
The email response was sent. Not too long after that, maybe a day or so, my phone rang and displayed an unknown number on the screen. On the other end of the phone was a pleasant lady who happened to be a job recruiter aka talent acquisitions member for a home appliance/small business machines company. She had seen my resume online and believed that I might be a good fit for the position offered. She seemed optimistic and encouraging. I on the other hand wondered how I’d fit in a professional corporate atmosphere providing customer service in the form of trouble shooting over the phone. Sure, I’d worked with the public for about 9 years at that point, from restaurant to retail to tutoring children, but fixing people’s mechanical and technical issues over the phone with my sewing knowledge was a whole other set of skills, not to mention working in an office! The benefits were good. (I didn’t know how good at the time.) The pay was $6 more than the best pay I’d ever been paid up to that point! The position was full time- a full 40 hours per week…guaranteed! No more being sent home when business is slow! Another uncomfortable piece was that it was a 33+-minute commute one way, and there was no guarantee of how reliable my little cash car would be. The recruiter and I really clicked. She understood exactly how I felt as an African American female and understood what it felt like to want more and better but be afraid to step out for fear of losing what’s already been gained. Add single parenthood to that, trying to rear a son. Her down-to-earth, transparent, encouraging conversation as a woman of faith was a sign that this was a God thing and not just a good thing. There was a magnetic pull that let me know I had to do this. I had to try. Because of her faith in me and the move of our God, she helped me land an interview.
On Friday, June 26, 2015, the company’s human resource intern called and scheduled my interview before an application was even completed and submitted! The interview was set for Tuesday, June 30th. The application was submitted Monday, June 29th. I was to be interviewed by 4 people back-t0-back starting at 9am. If the first liked me, the next would come in to interview. While slightly nervous, my personality shone through as questions were asked and answered and my completed sewn work was displayed. They must have liked me because I ended up meeting 5 people instead of 4. LOL!
Just like that, a targeted start date marked my calendar for Monday, July 13, 2015. About 2 weeks prior, who knew what checking my emails would do?? Such a simple, ordinary task. Now it was time to submit my 2-week notice at my job at which I had not yet made permanent. Here comes the uncomfortable middle between steps. How many of you know that when you step out on faith, you can count on a test? Nevertheless, a wise pastor once said, “Faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.” As soon as I put in my 2-week notice, the person who was responsible for handling my background check and other important new-hire paperwork ran into trouble verifying my graduation from high school. When I got the news, I was dumbfounded! Thoughts raced through my head, “WHAT!? What do you mean there is no record of my graduating high school?! I graduated with honors #5 in my class with a scholarship to a 4-year university!” Out of my mouth, words to the lady professionally stated that there is an error somewhere and that I would get to the bottom of it and call her back.
Not to get off subject, but have you ever taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test? (https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/home.htm?bhcp=1) Well, I’m an ISFJ, so you can imagine that at this point I’m really freaking out! Before calls were made to the school, God and I had to talk. It wasn’t the type of prayer you might hear at church. It was a “freaking out” conversation with God along the lines of, “Oh my, God! Oh my, God! What am I going to do? Why is this happening?! I graduated from high school! Why would there be no proof? Help me hold it together so I can make this phone call. Lord, You led me here; I need you to work this out. In Jesus’s name. Amen!” The phone rang and was answered with the typical grade school greeting. Naturally, the situation was explained, my business stated. Hold music, or maybe just silence. I don’t remember. My thoughts and yearning for this to work out was the loudest thing in my ears anyway…you know…psychological noise. Back on the line, no record was found. This was crazy! There was just no way this was happening! My name was given again and along with the graduation date. No records found. Then, as if by some great epiphany, she informed me that after a certain number of years, the records are moved from the school to the courthouse. My feelings were somewhere between “How could you let me think I was about to lose this job!? Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place!?” and “Phew! Thank God! There is hope!” She was thanked, the number to courthouse records was obtained, and after once again explaining and holding, there was proof! More calls were made, faxes were sent and received, and I was able to start my training on July 15, 2015…two days late. The test came, but the delay was not a denial.
Training was challenging in more ways than one, but the hardest part was training from 8am-5pm and finishing my last two weeks in retail working shifts 6pm-12am and 7pm-1am, having homework that needed to be completed and submitted online with no Internet at home. Assignments were done on Wi-Fi wherever I could get them done- fast food restaurants, the public library, my job at the retail store on breaks, and the local 24-hour pancake house. To add to the juggling, another opportunity came. It was a call from the manager of an apartment complex offering the next piece of the picture puzzle of me getting back on my feet! Picture me on a unicycle juggling two balls of employment, the ball of school, the ball of a new-t0-me car and now the ball of a new apartment with all of its processes, paperwork and appointments. It goes without saying that I still had my son to rear. Calls and notes from school were flowing in because my little guy was getting into trouble and even worse since the move, leaving his best friend behind.
One day during training on my 15-minute break, I decided to take a nap but slept right through the break at my desk. The supervisor woke me up 30 minutes later. Of course, I apologized profusely as I wiped my face. One of the senior representatives asked the question of how long would I be working two jobs. Not much longer. Just trying to get through these last two weeks to leave the right way. Soon, one ball of employment was tossed. Then school was tossed because I was falling behind. Plus, I was caught reading for a class assignment between calls at work and could no longer make the necessary time to be successful in school like I knew I could be. Ugh…once again school had to be put on the back burner because of more urgent needs.
The first year of this job (2015-2016) was dotted with having to leave work early or schedule time off because of anxiety attacks and meetings with my son’s school personnel. There were the usually responsibilities of having everything switched over to the new place of residence. Also, I accepted the position of associate minister in the church I grew up in and had received my preaching license on March 6, 2016. The second year (2016-2017) added finding out about hypoglycemia and learning how to manage it, learning how to professionally deal with irrational and irate customers, and balancing work, home, church choir, and preaching. The third year (2017-2018) added learning how to professionally deal with internal customers and starting and ending a marriage engagement. July 4, 2018, I was jumped and sexually assaulted at a family cookout by distance relatives, and so I left the church and quit as associate minister there. That threw my life upside down. October 2018, I forced myself to attend church again (a different church) and began my slow climb back to faithfully serving in church attending Sunday School and Sunday service and singing in the choir again. I preach, teach and minister whenever invited and of course through online platforms. Now on year four (2018-2019), there are new challenges added but so are my many testimonies. Every single time I felt like giving up, felt exhausted, felt like I just couldn’t continue, felt like I just couldn’t get a particular thing right, God would send someone to minister to me and affirm my placement in HIS will for my life. It didn’t matter the challenge faced. It did not matter the traumatic experience. It did not matter the loss. It didn’t even matter the discomfort. What mattered most was the leap of faith and choice to follow where God was leading me.
Why did I tell you so many details of my life? It was in hopes that you might see the big picture that even though I took the opportunity God gave me, there were no promises that there would not be challenges, that life would not happen, that there would not be loss, disappointment or tragedy. What seemed like ground zero gave me to opportunity to build. What seemed like loss gave me the opportunity to gain. What seemed like tragedy gave me the opportunity to trust. What seemed like brokenness gave me the opportunity to heal. What seemed like discomfort gave me the opportunity to grow. Currently, in October of 2019, I am still fighting for my son’s education, the improvement of his behavior (which has improved even with no ADHD medicine, and he’s on honor roll), my health as I have also been dealing with multiple fibrosis of the uterus at age 31, transportation to and from work due to a run-in with wildlife, and my engagement to the same man I was engaged to two years ago though incarcerated. God has kept this job for me through all sorts of personal issues. There will be obstacles. There is no way to know how the path you choose will go, but I can say that if you choose Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, your path will be one worth living.
New opportunities that await me are marriage, though some may not understand, support or agree, and a career diploma in dressmaking accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Like about the job opportunity, I am pretty excited about my relationship and the idea of obtaining a career diploma. They are both outstanding opportunities with great benefits. It’s normal to consider the uncomfortable middle between steps, but be encouraged to keep Looking for God because #HEISEVERYWHERE. Sometimes doubt and fear try to crash the party, but God strengthens my trust and emboldens me to take the road less traveled, reassuring me that HE can be found…in the Opportunity.
Poet Robert Frost wrote about choosing paths in his poem The Road Not Taken. (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken) God bless!