These last several years of my life have been about relearning, revisiting, rewriting and starting over. I spent well over a decade prior to this phase letting go of people, hopes, dreams and ideas. All of life is a process and I’ve generally stopped fighting against my cycles years ago.
The New Gig
The day after Labor Day, I began subbing as a tenth grade English teacher in a working-class suburban neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I shared feedback from that interview in The Best Interview Feedback I’ve Ever Received. The other day, while driving to a job for which my excitement had evaporated by day three, I wondered why I keep getting into situations that sound like they’re a godsend but function as a nightmare.
Note here: My wondering is almost always a conversation with my Creator. Whether thinking or vocalizing, the answers always come.
So, I was driving and asking God how I got roped in with a crock of lies by people who apparently think they have unlimited access to my labor despite not following through on any letter of their word. Assuming the job itself was the blessing, I questioned if I would show a lack of faith by quitting. Is this a trial I’m intended to persevere through? Am I obligated to suffer through incalculable daily indignities to get to the blessing on the other side of yet another toxic environment that is everything I hate and more about capitalist assumptions and indoctrination in the workplace?
Season of “No Struggle Blessings”
What came to me last weekend in a blink of understanding was that nothing God has for me is conditioned on my suffering or my performance. Work always has to be done, of course. However, the work we do to bring our purpose about and the work that moves us forward in life is usually counted as joy and certainly adds up to gratitude for unexpected opportunities. My writing is my work. Everything else is what I do to pay the bills.
I’ve reached a point in life that I seek to impress and satisfy only myself. I am in competition with no one. There is no leverage or power anyone has over me to stop me from existing how I want in this world. Suffering is not the route to blessings for me at this stage of life. The certainty of that knowledge radiated within me when it came to me last weekend. Shared in this clip titled “Season of “No Struggle Blessings“” from “Know Your WHY & Be True To It.“
Later in the week, while driving to this job, my primary question was, “What lesson am I supposed to take from a series of jobs that could have been catalysts for full-life transitions but became horribly acrimonious instead? In my spirit, I heard this (paraphrased), “It’s not about Me. It’s about you. When are you going to trust yourself again?”
Blocking My Own Progress
I don’t doubt God. There is nothing in me that fears My Creator’s provision for me will ever dry up. I have no concerns about food, shelter, or money. I am sustained in a very healthy way (**pats belly**). Yet in my young adulthood, I put so much of my trust in the connections I thought I had with people that I weighed my worthiness and the understanding of my faith by their response to me. Their lack of response and general absence of reciprocal care made me think I had misunderstood a lot – instructions, guidance, teachings, messages – even up to the foundation of my faith. My recovery from the dreadful lapse of trusting my intuition, my hearing, my heart, my eyes and my hopes was to push it all into the shadows and trust only what I could confirm as God’s guidance. This is what we call an over-correction.
As I write, I can see clearly that the loss of so many imbalanced relationships – with people I held dear as friends and family or would have gladly called lover – paved the way to my withdrawal and isolation. For the last few years, I have actively resisted making new friends and aggressively shooed away men. What I’m understanding now is, I stopped trusting my sight. Not only did I have visions, but I also saw what people could be and accepted their representation of themselves.
I had eyes filled with hope and love. This is the filter that covers a multitude of sins.
Now, all I see is what people are in a world I don’t want to be a part of.
This is what the Spirit called me to remembrance of this week, “When are you going to trust yourself again?”
I questioned back, “Can I trust myself to love again? Do I even want to love again? What good has love in the world done for me? In my mind, love has only made me a sucker, a mark, and a target. Loving others has not brought love into my life.”
But the Spirit hadn’t questioned my ability. The Spirit questioned my will and my timing, “When?”
Two other jobs I had really been excited about since 2020 came to mind. I realized I would have suffered indefinitely had they not forced me out. I would have continued showing up to those places filled with rancor and petty-mindedness because I had committed to the roles. I was determined to transition my career fully and thereby pave a way for a new life outside of New York City. At the time, I was certainly confident in my ability to make whatever I needed work out. My self-confidence may waver in moments, but those moments are barely blips on the arc of time.
At the time, those two former acrimonious jobs were seen as answered prayers and steppingstones to a future I was trying to create for myself. They each lasted about two months and my termination was seen as a frustration and a blessing. “Frustration” because I believed I needed employment to fully transition in life. “A blessing” because I wanted to quit, but I’m not a good quitter. Presently, with the sub role, quitting is not an issue, and I know the job itself is not the blessing.
That was the lesson. That was the realization and the manifestation.
The Cycle and The Lesson
It took three cycles for me to separate the perception of the satisfaction of my needs from anything in this world. Environments are acrimonious to me because I’m not meant to stay in them. They’re test stations. Spaces where my understanding and faith are sifted and refined. It was my life-long practice of holding on to things that aren’t for me that made the lesson necessary.
The Conversation continued (paraphrasing). “You know what’s good for you. You don’t need to ask Me if you can do what you need to do to protect your Peace. You can trust yourself.
Ahhhhh. *Light bulb.*
I can see people and things as they are and not conform to the darkness enshrouding them, even if I’m attempting to counsel them through it. This includes seeing myself as I am, in all my flawed fragile humanity. The filter of love and hope that I had once viewed others with was also how I viewed myself. Perhaps the understanding that’s forming is that in my inability to see myself and others through the filter of love and hope, I should trust that it’s still necessary to practice doing so. I need to trust that my deficiencies are not limitations if I remain open and willing to allow God to work and love through me.
When will I trust myself again? Trust myself to open up, despite the inevitability of disappointment, without sliding further into isolation? Trust myself to see with refreshed eyes of grace instead of through the prism of all the false relationships in my life? Trust myself enough to protect myself in any environment without concern about retaliation?
I already do. That work has already been done.
As I continued driving that morning, my response was “Yes and Amen.” I knew within the first week of interactions at the high school that as soon as I got another offer, I was gone. None of the terms agreed to by phone were written into an offer or adhered to. I had dealt with the principal, and we had come to an agreement. In exchange for an emergency license and conversion to full-time teacher with full benefits after three months subbing, I committed to teach for the full school year. When the HR manager finally spoke to me on day three, she said she couldn’t make any guarantees regarding the principal’s verbal offerings. She reduced my day rate to the lowest level and claimed I would have to pay out of pocket, at this reduced pay, for the courses leading to a license. I told her I couldn’t make any guarantees either, and there was no way I was coming out of pocket in order to work for anyone. Not when I have three degrees and thirty years work experience. In that moment, I knew I was done.
In all my working years, no one has ever not honored terms of a verbal job offer. The shadiness of it is not loss on me.
The beauty of being able to see people as they are, is that the little power they have in subterfuge is taken away. I can be as open and honest as I want and be fine with the consequences. When truth is spoken into a deceitful person’s face, they have no idea how to respond. They usually double-down or back down. Either way, they know they are exposed. Truth takes away the go-along-to-get-along cushion where they think they can dangle a carrot to control performance. No. That’s not an option. Not with me.
I’ve come through the testing stations with a layer of grit I never asked for. I wanted to be soft, caring, trusting and full of grace, but the people of the world keep trying to break me down and chew me up. So, My Provider began training me in courses that have incrementally toughened me. [Perhaps, broken teeth will be a symbol of my legacy. 🤔] Knowing I am equipped to stand in victory makes trusting myself much easier.