The reality of any journey is how difficult it can be from time to time. As you have seen in my previous two posts, I had some significant disappointments along the way. But, as the years become greater in-between those moments and now, I see things in a much different light.
Look at this picture above, it’s a simple road that all of us have traveled. When we are on the road, we often can’t see very far in front of us, only the things that are around our present location. You can make out some trees ahead, a few hills or mountains, but that is the extent of what is seen. This is an interesting thought when we look at our lives in a similar way.
I can look back and see where the Lord was working in my life, what He was doing to get me to the place I am today, but not while I was in the middle of it. Similarly, I am unable to look ahead to 40 and see what may be in store for me and my family. All I can do is seek guidance from the Lord, my family, and those whom I trust that have been down a similar road before.
The hurt I felt when I was rejected by all the law schools in which I applied is still there. I remember getting each of those letters and how, after the second one I knew the rest would also contain a no. I remember applying for a job as a bank teller, having an interview, getting the phone call that I wasn’t hired, and wondering what was wrong with me. Ever been there? It is not a fun place to be but how I learned from those experiences!
I honestly believe the journey through those pains have made me a better husband, a better father, and a better person. While I don’t wish pain and hurt on anyone, sometimes they can be the best learning experience. They have taught me the value of not giving up, reaching out to others for help, and not being so quick to judge people who may be in tough spots. Each of these are areas I have struggled with in the past and it took me going through a rough patch in my own life to grow.
The one image that continually comes to mind as I think back on my own journey is my son. He was born while I was unemployed. As any parent will tell you, there is not a worse feeling in the world than feeling like you are unable to provide for and take care of your family. Ever have a moment in your life when you thought things couldn’t get any worse? This was it for me. Fortunately, the Lord provided an opportunity and while I would rather not go through something like that again, I am thankful for what I learned.
We will always be learning and the heart of these posts is to recognize those moments and grow as a person. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about times in your life that while difficult, have been some of the best learning experiences for you. It is always helpful to go through these times together and learn from one another so I look forward to hearing from all of you on this journey.
Recently, my 5-year old son began talking about what he wanted to be when he grew up. It is the usual from a boy that age: fireman, police officer, astronaut. One day while discussing his plans to be a police officer as well as a tennis player, he turned to me and said, “Dad, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m 36 years old, how do I answer that question?
I gave a funny answer and laughed about it and continued to listen to him talk about his dreams and plans as only a 5-year old can do. However, that question struck a nerve in me that has lingered even now, weeks after he asked it. What do I want to be when I grow up?
Many of us are traveling through life simply reacting to the daily routine. We wake up, go to work, eat, spend time with family, sleep, and do it all over again the next day. Sure there are some great moments and many of us have a job we love, but are we truly living? We get caught up in ‘being a grown up’ when we’d much rather be doing something else with our lives.
I have been unemployed, have worked jobs just to pay the bills, and failed miserably at an attempt to enter a career field I desperately wanted to pursue. All of those moments have helped shape and mold me into the man I am today and moved me down the road toward the answer to my son’s question. It is a question I have been afraid to answer for fear of where it could lead. Ever have one of those moments? You know, a moment where you know what the answer is but are afraid to say it because it may sound ridiculous to those around you? May even sound ridiculous to yourself?
So, what do you want to be when you grow up? Is it too late? I used to believe that after 30 you needed to be in your career of choice or you would never make it. I am sure you know how wrong that is but that doesn’t stop us from believing it from time to time. In fact, I sometimes think about dreams I have and plans with the phrase, ‘it would be great to be ____ or have ____ by the time I am 40.’ Well, that is 4 long years away. But, instead of looking at the amount of time left to accomplish those goals and dreams I think, ‘that can’t happen by then, there is not enough time.’
Have you ever been where I am? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. I’ll continue my story in the coming posts and hopefully encourage you as I travel down this road.