Sunday, November 9, 2014

Did they have Frito Pie in the New Testament?

                I know that most people only show the shiny, happy side of themselves on Facebook.  And I know that I find myself doing somewhat the same.  I am not one to air dirty laundry, should I actually have any, but I am also loath to admit when things aren’t working out just as I had planned.  But to the 99 of you who actually read this blog, I have been truthful about more than I probably should but not so much outside my comfort zone.  And the outskirts of my comfort zone is where I currently reside.  And I’m not so much unhappy as confused.

                Of the talents I have, the one that served me well throughout high school and college was the ability to present a portrait of self-confidence so successfully many thought I was arrogant.  Most people who knew me during that time never realized I suffered from almost crippling self-doubt and monstrous self-loathing.  However, my innate need to be successful pushed me to achieve whatever I thought I needed to impress the most people and secure my place at whatever table I had deemed the most appropriate.  Many tables were admittedly shallow, but I wasn't looking depth, y'all, just acceptance.

                Through many years of struggle, I have finally accepted all of me.  Just like John Legend, I love all of me.  And although my curves and edges are less curvy and sharp than before, they are still more than I would like but I am a work in progress, which is annoying to someone (like me) with less patience than is helpful.

                The one thing that I have always clung to, even when I hated everything else about me, is my intellect.  To be sure, I am not one of those geniuses on the TV show ‘Scorpion’, but I would like to imagine that I am intellectually superior to Katherine McPhee, or at least her character, Paige.  And while it won’t win me any Guinness World Record designations, my IQ has served me well enough to get me where I’ve wanted to be.  And that verb tense is part of what is making me tense.

                To give you a bit of back story, I have worked in Prosthetic and Sensory Aids for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 14 years.  I have worked at every level in my field and I have achieved more than I ever thought possible considering my background, but I am ready to take the next step in my career.  I am ready to make the leap to Associate Director of a healthcare system; my boss’s job.  I have had the opportunity to serve as Acting Associate Director for a combined total of around 6 months in the last two years and I loved every minute of it.  This position plays to my strengths of lean management and strategic planning.  I’m good at it and I think I’m ready; my boss, my mentors, my friends, my peers, all think I’m ready.  Everyone thinks I’m ready except apparently God.  Well, He hasn’t actually said what He thinks and that’s what is frustrating.

                And I know that He doesn’t want it for me right now because this is the first time in my career that I’ve been turned down for a job.  In 16 years in the VA, I have always managed to land each position that I personally wanted and felt led to pursue.  And I realize that sounds a little obnoxious but I work very hard and have put my heart and soul into my career, sacrificing a personal life (moving every 2-3 years) to get where I thought I wanted and needed to be and it always seemed that God was right there with me. I always felt led in a particular direction.  But this time there’s no direction.

                I have applied for quite a number of Associate Director positions in the last year and have not been selected.  I’ve been close.  I’ve made it to the final two on 4 different occasions.  I’ve been flown to cities in other states for a face-to-face and tour of their facilities, but never managed to lock it down.  I’m the Leonardo DiCaprio of the VA.  Wait, I don’t really like him.  I’m the Glenn Close of the VA; multiple nominations, no wins.

                I’ve always prayed for guidance and I’ve always received it.  I mean God never spoke out loud saying, “Dustin, you must go to Alaska!”  He’s met me before; He knows that would freak me out.  But I’ve always felt a push in a certain direction.  And right now all I feel is a tug on my shirt collar holding me in place.  And I wonder does God want me to just ‘be’?  Because that’s a little more Buddha than I imagine He is, but maybe I’m wrong.  He created everything so that means He created Buddhists, so I don’t know.  And goodness knows that I have been prone to mistakes in my past.  Take for example the time I volunteered to drive John Allen non-stop from Ontario, Canada to New Orleans in a gold Ford Tempo, armed only with a cat, a cooler full of Mountain Dew and Nacho Cheese Doritos and the belief that all that No-Doz wouldn't kill us.  But I’ve come a long way.  The late 30-something and 40-something Dustin’s decisions (travel related and otherwise) are far superior to the teenaged, 20 and early 30-something Dustin’s.

                But as much as I’ve accomplished and as happy as I am, my newly- 44 self doesn't know what to do.  And I always know what to do.  I’m the guy with a Plan A and a Plan B and even a Plan C with personal development strategies, lists of associated certifications and color-coded timelines.  I’m the guy who mentors others and helps them map out their future, for pity's sake.  And for the first time since 1998, I’m feeling a little lost and I don’t like it; not at all.  I like it less than I like flourless chocolate cake or the new Michael Keaton movie, 'Birdman'.  I find both dense, dark and unnecessary.

                I’ve always been told and always believed that when God shuts one door, He opens another.  But what am I supposed to do when He’s shutting all the doors?  Do I just sit and wait?  Because God knows me and He knows that is not how I roll.  For someone who is not necessarily swift of foot, I am always in motion, people.  Now I feel like Jonah trapped in that big ol’ fish belly with all the remains of whatever a big fish eats.  Other fish?  Beef Wellington?  Frito Pie?  I am blessed to be trapped in the Bay Area with weather that appears to be controlled by an evil genius with some sort of machine.  I guess we’re lucky our evil genius prefers it to be partly cloudy and in the mid-60s most every day.

                So I guess I’ll just keep praying and keep waiting and maybe eventually I’ll be barfed up on a beach somewhere in the VA system.  If it was good enough for Jonah, it is good enough for me.  I admit, though, I am curious as to where this will be.  I wonder which city God considers the modern American version of Nineveh?

                And that’s all I’m saying for now.


  1. I know this is not what you want to hear (been there, done that) BUT...
    It seems to me you are in liminal space (that in-between time - think of a doorway - when you've left the room you had been in, and you are not yet in the room you are going to). It's awful to be in liminal space, except...
    If you endure, and don't turn back, and wait (how awful), eventually you will step through to the next room.
    And, guess what?
    It will be better that you expected, possibly because of the patience you learned.
    There are those people who say the only time you ever learn ANYTHING is when you are in liminal space.
    I can tell you this, because I spent THREE YEARS in liminal space not too long ago, and the joy I feel now is directly proportional to the misery I felt being trapped there.

  2. You know.... I don't know if this is going to help, but I'm going to say it anyway. First, your waiting on God's timing is a huge thing. Most people can't do it (or, rather, they chose not to because it's haaaaaard *said with a whine*). But, my preacher uses this example and it resonates with me:
    Imagine you were to call the White House and ask to speak to the President, and the person on the other end of the phone paused and said "Okay, hold please". Would you not freak out just a little bit, and then hold just as long as you were able to hold? Because, for pete's sake, you were about to talk to the President!

    Equate then, the "on hold" that you are now experiencing. It's a harder wait period. There is a lot of struggle in this part of being on hold. But to even be able to speak to the Creator of the universe, the God of all that is or shall be, is truly astounding in the first place. So, to wait for His answer is a good and reasonable and expected thing. And your work that you are putting in to wait for him will be worked out to your good. Because you are one who loves Him.

    I hate that you've experienced this. I agree with you in that I think that you would be GOOD for, and in, this job you are seeking. Take some time to lick your wounds and then take a deep breath and carry on in prayerful diligence.

  3. I really appreciate both of your comments. I am truly blessed to having Godly friends who can give me great advice. Hugs and kisses to both of you!!