This past week a former professor sent me an application for and the suggestion to participate in the Rotary Peace Fellowship. When I first read about it; I got so excited! There is a program that takes place at the International Christian University in Japan. The idea of being able to live overseas for two years for free with a stipend and a fully paid for Masters Degree lit a small fire inside of me. Not to mention it would get me out of the current situation I am in.
That fire was quickly snuffed out me as I had a logical conversation with a friend of mine. Number one, I don’t need more education at this time. Two Masters degrees aren’t opening doors for me, as a matter of fact; they may actually be closing doors. Logic says a third would just slam more doors. Number two, there are too many considerations medically with a long term trip that would at least take a year to safely sort out, and I would be leaving in August if I got accepted. Number three, I have too much going on personally with relationships to just get up and run away. Running away used to be a fun concept to me but the more I learn to actually form lasting, real relationships, the more running has lost its glamor. Last, but not least, God is not calling me to go overseas, and he is not calling me to pursue that program.
So, I am staying here, working hard at my current job, doing what I can to build up myself with the online health business I do on the side, and I will keep applying to other jobs. God will open the right door. It will not be an escape plan, but the proper move forward.
Looking at those statistics as a person with a “Targeted Disability*” can easily lead me to wonder why I bother trying so hard to change my circumstances. I mean, looking at these numbers you think I should just give up and go back to living on SSI, and I should definitely not think that I deserve a better position than what I have now. I should just be happy I’m employed at all.
But, I refuse to accept the status quo. I am too frustrated and angry. I have worked too hard in my life to remain satisfied with my current circumstances. I heard it said that the most faithful people are the most frustrated people. I believe that applies to me at this point. First, my frustration broke me down. the frustration was leading to me believing the lies that said, You are a failure, you aren’t good enough, the only thing that lies ahead for you is more humiliation and shame. It’s been a battle to fight through those lies. I know they aren’t true. But, given a week moment, those lies can quickly come crashing down on me.
Now, today, at this time my frustration is fueling me towards change; the change I deserve. When my frustration hit this tipping point, I decided to enter the battle, and I will fight until God’s purpose for me is fulfilled in my life. For a while, I accepted where I was in the workplace because I rationalized that God can get glory from my life no matter where I am situated. That statement is still true, and so I am managing my current situation with that in mind, but I also know that I have been prepared for so much more. My frustration has engaged me in a battle to change my circumstance. Of course, I want my circumstances to change so that I can stop living by a thread and have some freedom. But, I am doing this for other people with disabilities. When I get myself into a better place, I can become a voice for people with disabilities. I can push open doors for them that have continually been slammed in my face. I will do this through getting a better job and through Melaleuca.
*Targeted disability is defined as “a disability that the government has, for several decades, emphasized in hiring because they pose the greatest barriers to employment, such as blindness, deafness, paralysis, convulsive disorders, and mental illnesses, among others.”
So, I did it again… I applied for a government job. I couldn’t resist the temptation when the job suggestion popped up in my e-mail yesterday. It’s a position for a category 203–Human Resources Assistant at the Boston VA Medical Center. When I was recently in Boston on the train; every time I heard the announcement “the last stop of this train is the Boston VA Medical Center,” I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a position open there that I could fit into.
While I was there, I took a quick look on USAJobs, and there was no vacancy open that I qualified for. So, I let the idea drop. I would love to work for the VA Medical Center. I have so many veterans in my family that I am so proud of. This would be a hands-on way for me to serve those who have served. I have worked at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, and I loved it. This could be a way for me to fulfill my “Hidden Figures” type calling. People with disabilities need the chance to prove themselves in the mainstream workforce. If I can get in this door; I will be able to open the door for other people with disabilities who are able, qualified and ready to work.
I filled out the KSA’s, attached my Federal Resume and my “Schedule A” letter. I have also contacted the Selective Placement Program Coordinator at the DC VA Medical Center, they were the closest SPPC to Brockport, MA. I will see if he responds and if there is a more direct contact for MA. I’m not “white knuckling” this opportunity. I would love it if it happens but; I feel like it is so unlikely that only God will be able to turn the knob and open this door. I have no control whatsoever. I’m actually quite relaxed.
Back on task–moving from survival to success. As you know, I am not only job hunting for a Human Resources position within a corporate company, but I am also a marketing executive for the largest online health businesses in the United States. I started with them back in September, and even though I am 110% behind them as a company and love their products, I have had a problem enrolling shoppers.
Why has this been so hard for me? I could make a list of reasons why I think it hasn’t worked but if I am honest, getting out there and networking, it’s just not easy for me. Not to mention, I have been trying to do it in random places just hoping to make things work. Well, I am starting to change my strategy a little bit. I am doing so good old-fashioned, face to face networking. I am great opportunities coming up this week to do that very thing and guess what?? Instead of being completely terrified, I am excited!
On Thursday I am joining a “let’s get fit and network” meetup that will be walking together at a local park about two towns over. I love walking, and being fit is what this company is about–perfect fit. Saturday I am doing a 5K to raise money for a Lupus Foundation. Great place to meet people and network with those that obviously care about their health. (Sorry, but, there are easier ways to raise money for a cause than running just over 3 miles! Just Sayin’!). The Following week I am going to a business networking meeting at a local resturant. It’s time for me to hustle, so people ask me–how are you making this work??
I have no intention of this being a political blog. Politics are messy and to write about them every day would wear out my brain. I do have to bring up something that is going on in America’s politics right now because it is scaring me and was messing with what I thought of my future–and even my life.
The “American” Healthcare Act is scaring me. It’s basically saying the twenty-five percent of Americans don’t deserve affordable healthcare. I put “American” in quotes intentionally because this bill is basically saying the twenty-five percent of Americans don’t matter. (FYI according to current statistics twenty-five percent of Americans identify as having a disability–having a disability puts a person in the pre-existing condition category.) The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990. How much hope the disability community in America had. I doubt that those who fought so hard for it thought that more than a quarter of a century after it was signed people with disabilities would continue to be marginalized. We are given token degrees but kept out of the mainstream workforce. Now, our own Government is pushing for a bill that will prevent us from having access to the medical care we need to live. In the least this will marginalize us further; at the worst, it will kill us.
I have been terrified ever since the House rejoiced when the bill was passed. I talked to a friend that night and said that if the Senate passes this bill, I would rather die then try to live. Already my job insurance and my Medicare premiums are nearly impossible for me to pay. If my premiums go up, I won’t be able to pay them. Not having access to medical care and my medication means I will go back to having fifteen to twenty dystonic episodes again. I will be in constant pain and always exhausted from having the episodes. I won’t be able to work. I won’t be able to take care of myself. I don’t see the point of living like that. I will be turned into a “useless eater.” My friend did the best they could to reassure me that there was no way the bill will make it through the Senate. Tried to assure me that even if it did make it through somehow each state would have the choice to opt in or not, and there was no way my state would opt in. I dropped the ultimatum that night. But, the thought of living with that uncertainty (I don’t have a warning of when I am going to have an episode), living with that kind of pain again, and becoming completely useless made the ultimatum tempting again.
Then, I went to church this morning. I was having a hard time paying attention, but I was doing my best. I did manage to pick up a few things. It was about looking at things with the right schema–the right lenses. I didn’t take many notes but I did write the following down:
Even the worst circumstances in life become opportunities to experience God’s love.
In other words, even if this bill passes, even if I lose access to health care and medications, even if I can’t work, even if I am pushed aside by society I have to live. Not because I am going to want to at that point, but because God can work through even the worst circumstances to reveal Himself. Dying would be me saying that my life is mine alone and I have the right to live it the way I think is best. Living even if I become a “useless eater” means I trust God can get the glory and show love in any circumstance. In God, I can live with dignity no matter how little value my Government–and the complacent citizens of my country assign to my life.
I took a couple of days off, my brain has been in a bit of a fog because of the barometric pressure changes. One of the many joys of having C.P. is that when weather patterns regularly change your. body. just. hurts. It was good for me to take a break from writing because when I am in physical pain my brain is not always so kind to me and I don’t think clearly. But today, I feel better, and I have this NEED to write. Any other writers out there ever feel that “NEED?”
In my “First Five” Devotions the focus has been on King David’s life after he becomes king of the united kingdom of Israel. In the last few days, the story has gone from David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), to Nathan Confronting David about his sin (2 Samuel 12), to David’s daughter Tamar being raped (2 Samuel 13). All of this because of past and current events has stirred up so much emotion within me. At first, they were feelings of fear and depression, then God in His mercy; turned them to reminders of restoration.
You see, when I read 2 Samuel 11 and 12 I was reminded of my past relationship with M.E. For those of you who don’t know, he was a man I foolishly fell for about three years ago. Our relationship progressed too quickly, and despite the warnings that two women from my church tried to give me, I allowed events to occur that I thought would never happen. By the time I was able to get free of that relationship I was beaten down as a person. I felt like Tamar did in 2 Samuel 13:
Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went (vs. 18-19).
Because I felt like my situation was my fault I also felt like I deserved the same fate as Tamar: So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. (vs. 20b). But, last week, I had someone precious give me an amazing gift. He walked in a 3K for HAWC (Healing Abuse Working for Change) in my honor for surviving the abuse I had gone through with M.E. I may have made foolish decisions, but I did not ask M.E. to lie, I did not ask M.E. to control me, I did not ask M.E. to treat me like my body was for his pleasure alone, and I did not ask M.E. to psychologically, emotionally, and in the end physically abuse me. When the precious, amazing man walked in the HAWC walk to honor me for surviving, it finally clicked that it wasn’t my fault and that M.E.’s abuse was not my deserved punishment for foolishly falling for him. The action of honoring me in this way made me remember a passage in Ezekiel where God ultimately redeems and restores us:
I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God(Ezekiel 16:10-14).
My God has taken my torn robes, ashes, empty future and given me splendor and hope. He has redeemed and restored me.
As you know, I have re-entered the job applying process. In the last week, I have filled out six applications. No, I am not discouraged. I have only just begun, and I know this, but, God is using this digitized application process to continue to teach me a valuable lesson. I have microscopic control over what happens next. It’s one thing for me to say, “God, I give you control,” another to actually give it to Him.
Logically, I know God is completely sovereign, I know He created the world and moves people and circumstances as He sees fit. I have read a few books on the subject: Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges, The Reason for God by Timothy Keller and some assorted Essays from Finding God at Harvard compiled by Kelly Monroe-Kullberg touch on this subject as well. I also have at least 25 index cards with Scripture verses on them that speak to God’s sovereignty and control (Col. 1:16-17; Isa. 46;10 and Psalm 24:1-2 are a few of my favorites that I can recall right now). Yet, when it comes to putting this logical knowledge into practice–there seems to be a disconnect. I tend to say to God, “Take control of this,” but things don’t happen as quickly as I want or I don’t get answers at all. Then, I do whatever I can to grab it back.
This digitized application process, though, is making me have no choice but to leave the control in God’s hands. Yes, I am doing my best to fill out applications, write appropriate resumes for each individual job, spend time on creating professional and relevant cover letters. I am using the words in the job descriptions in my resume so that the computer does throw my resume out. After all that, though, I have no control; at all. This hit me hard today when I attempted to call a particular company to see where they were in the application process.
I dialed the number, got the company directory and pressed the number for “job seekers.” Well, it was not a surprise but, nonetheless, disappointing when I heard the following recorded message: [Company Name]’s application process is entirely digitized if [Company Name] is interested in you, we will contact you. I knew this was most likely the case, but for some reason, a lump dropped in my stomach. I began to hate the fact that my future was in the hands of a machine. The I remembered Proverbs 21:1; “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;he turns it wherever he will.” If God can turn the hearts of people what is a machine to Him?
Never did I imagine that computers, which people supposedly control would be the very thing God would use to show me (again) that I have no control whatsoever.
This morning one of my “Facebook Memories” was of information I gleaned from a Sermon by Timothy Keller (back in my comfort zone!) two years ago to the day. Guess what it was about? That’s right–you guessed it–anxiety. At first, when I realized that two years ago around the same time I was dealing with the SAME issue I started beating myself up in my head. See, you haven’t changed, you aren’t growing, anxiety and depression are going to be continuous battles that you will always lose. Thankfully before I left for work, I listened to the sermon again because Mr. Keller tells us to discard those thoughts and remember where they are coming from. Below is an excerpt from his sermon that really hit home for me, again,
The word for anxiety is a little Greek word merimnaó which means to be in pieces and there is a play on this word anxiety in Luke chapter 10; that tells us the story of Martha and Mary. There is a great place where, two sisters, Martha and Mary have Jesus in to eat a meal and Martha is running all around, running all around and it says that she was anxious—merimnaó with much serving. And the word literally means to have a mind divided and distracted with too much. Too many goals. Mary is just sitting there listening to Jesus and Martha starts to get, “Mary we’ve got work to do and you are having your quiet time.” Mary doesn’t care that the house is a wreck and that they have things to do. That doesn’t matter she’s getting her time with Jesus. Are you a Mary or a Martha? Now Jesus actually makes a play on the word merimnaó. He says, “Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things (which is merimnaó).” Mary has found the one thing that is needful, Mary is single-minded. Mary has one thing she is looking at and Martha had 300 things. (Timothy Keller “Fruits of the Spirit: Peace and Overcoming Anxiety,” 1990)
I am definitely a Martha, although you would never tell that by the looks of my apartment sometimes! But, right now my mind is divided and being pulled in so many directions. I’m surprised it hasn’t been pulled to shattered pieces yet. That has to be God’s protection. Even today my mind is considering my job, Melaleuca, my relationship, the possibility of moving, Boston, Job applications, friends, family, my future, my past. Some of these things are not bad, but it is; nonetheless causing my mind to be divided and for my anxiety to have a fertile ground in which to grow.
As I said, some of the things my mind is focused on are good things, they even require my attention. But look what Mr. Keller says, “Mary has found the one thing that is needful, Mary is single-minded.” Mary had a family, she had a home to take care of, meals to prepare, but when she had the opportunity, she focused her mind on the One that would pull all of her life together and keep her mind in on piece–without anxiety. When Christ is my focus, and I give all my concerns they no longer have the right to pull apart or divide my mind. Here is to needful, single-minded focus.
“Okay, these videos are a little bit of a step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, pushing us out of our comfort zone is how God likes to work. But, I have been listening to a couple Steven Furtick’s Motivational videos in the morning as I walk to work. (They are perfect because they are short and it takes me tops ten minutes to walk to work!) I have been fighting with the ups and downs of depression and anxiety lately and when I say “fighting” I mean FIGHTING! This is one of the videos that has been very helpful:
When I say I am FIGHTING, I mean that I am not sitting around complacent just hoping the episode of depression and anxiety that I am facing will only disappear. I am getting up, taking care of myself, going to work, surrounding myself with friends, spending time using my DBT Skills, Reading, writing and memorizing to scripture. I am fighting. The length of this particular episode is getting on my nerves, and sometimes I wish I had the ability to curl up and stop fighting, if only for a few days but I can’t. This morning, though, the temptation to just rest from the battle was overwhelming.
This weather is still being horrible, and the barometric pressure is causing so much pain. The night before I went to Physical Therapy and my body was feeling its effects. Emotionally, I was all right, but my physical pain was bringing tears to my eyes. As the pain took over, I considered asking God, please let me quit. Then I remembered that I woke up to a text where I was being thanked for helping, I was told I was loved. So, instead, I prayed, God help me get out of this bed so that I can face this day and glorify you. Just then my “First Five” application alert went off. I considered ignoring it because I was already behind schedule. But from the bed, I read the Chapter in Scripture and the quick devotional. It was exactly what I needed!
“And the Lord gave David victory everywhere he went.” 2 Sam 8:6b, 14b
David had to show up to the battle. David had to fight. David lost men, he probably even suffered injury himself. Later in the chapter, a prince from a surrounding area comes to pay tribute to David, but he also comes to inquire about David’s health (2 Sam. 8:10). I may become tired and suffer “injury, ” but I will win this war because God is with me and He will give me victory.