Yesterday, my son and I were on our way home after school and he says, totally out of the blue, "Christmas will be different this year, Mommy".
Ironic, since I happened to be thinking about the exact same thing. While I know full well that Christmas has nothing to do with gifts, and my kids are such that they wouldn't care whether or not they had 50 gifts to open or none, I had self imposed pressure and expectations to fill the space under the tree with stuff. But, this year ain't like last.
Enter sadness. Lately, I'd felt as if I somehow failed my family by losing my clients several months ago. I spent sleepless nights wondering if I could've worked any harder, done any better, been any more profitable. I was already doing the job of multiple people by my lonesome. That came at a cost, however. When you're on pure commission, you can't afford to put yourself on cruise control, not even for a day. The job meant tons of hours+daily effort+holidays included. To raise the stakes, I was the breadwinner at that time. My husband was caught up in the economical climate change before I was. When 20-somethings stopped building million dollar homes, his company folded. Nice while it lasted, but because they wanted their homes built yesterday, and/or in 18 degree weather, it meant forgetting what the man looked like on most days. He was often gone before the kids and I woke, home after we tucked ourselves in for the night. We knew he was around, however, because food was missing and contributions to the bank account showed up each Friday.
So I pounded the pavement, trying to find other clients to serve. If I was the person that others in the business called for advice, surely I'd have no trouble finding another job. I had great relationships with all of the important people at the companies I needed to interface with on behalf of my clients. Surely there would be someone in need of my expertise, right? Nope! The final nail in the coffin of sole proprietorship came when my pc died. So after months of fruitless pursuits and no means with which to actually perform the job that I thought I was so good at...
I teetered on that fine line between having it all together and losing my hole-filled mind. That's never good for Alice (the pet name I've assigned to my immune system, which could benefit from anger mgmt classes). She's a very light sleeper.
"Christmas will be different this year, Mommy", said the 10yr old, while gazing casually out the car window. In a split second, the past 2 years flashed through my mind and I had two choices: Ask him what he meant, or pretend I was sleeping. I decided to go with, "what do you mean by that, buddy?", totally unprepared to counter whatever it was he'd answer with.
"You'll be home the whole day!" Wow. I was immediately reminded of a school project his class did last year. It was a Wish Book, but not for Sears. My son's wish was, "for my Mommy to have a day off".
Is that what he's been thinking of? Spending more time with me? While I've been feeling like I've let him, my little girl, and my husband down? Enter tears in 3...2...
How could I miss the fact that God has been hard at work in this? He paved the way for me to acquire a job at my kids' school doing something I love to do that truly blesses others. Fringe benefit #1 - I get to hug my kids during my work day. Mine, as well as bunches of others who rush to my classroom to say hello and receive their hugs. I'm a little like Norm, but the setting is a Christian school rather than an underground bar. It's the neatest feeling to walk in the door and hear your name be shouted...and you're NOT in trouble!
And my husband? He's a fantastic provider. He's been blessed to find an assortment of jobs that help provide for our needs. Even with the 3 jobs he holds, he's still home much more than he used to be. We do things as a family now. We laugh...a lot. We draw closer to one another and to God than we ever had. I have an incredible family that's always available if we need anything. Great church family and praying friends? We've got that! I recently was blessed with a part-time job that will provide another necessary oar in the financial boat. To top it all off...I still get to see and hang out with the one person I knew I'd miss most from my old job. Her friendship is worth its weight in gold.
So if I change my perspective and begin to tally it all up, I'd say I'm really quite wealthy. My son hit me with a heavy dose of reality. I haven't let my family down. I did my best day in and day out in my previous job and left it all on the table. There wasn't one thing I could've done better, one day I could've worked harder, or one additional dollar I could have generated. God simply reached down to reposition me for His work, which I am passionate about doing. In the meantime, I get to spend entire Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays, and Sundays with my family. Not too shabby! It may have taken me nearly a year, but I'm finally getting it.
I don't follow easily, which is probably why this has been a hard situation to wrestle with. Yet again, a song is written all about me. "What It Feels Like To Be Led". Many thanks to the band for thinking of me...