Problem #1 – This well-dressed dude kept showing up, just about everywhere that I went.
Problem #2 – A lot of the things he said made sense to me.
Problem #3 – He just wouldn’t shut up.
“Is it really fair for you to live out this little dream at the expense of your kids?” he asked me one morning, again in the cafe. “After all, if you got a real job you would have better insurance for when they got sick, and you could buy them nicer stuff, and they’d probably be happier. You could feel good about moving out of that basement that sometimes smells like sewage when the washer line gets backed up.”
“It’s not a little dream. It’s my identity. It’s who I am.”
He laughed, one of those scoffing, reverse sniffs through his nose, as if he was trying to remove the smallest of gnats (the g is silent).
“Your identity. Whatever. It’s not your identity- it just makes you happy. Isn’t that kind of selfish?”
I shook my head, but that one hit below the belt.
“It’s not about happiness,” I insisted. “It’s about purpose.”
He nodded knowingly, as if he had heard that one far too often.
“Okay, so let’s assume it is your ‘purpose’,” and here he raised his hands and made those annoying little air-quotation marks. “Don’t you think God also wants you to be practical, to be able to pay the bills, to address that little debt issue you have from your last little business?”
The last part he said with a knowing glance and looked around, as if he may have said it too loud, as if someone else may have heard.
“What should I do?” I asked in a pathetic half whisper, feeling my defenses crumbling.
“Get a job,” he insisted, soothingly. “Get something that will provide you with a decent income. A matching 401k. For goodness sake stop lying to yourself that you can make a life doing whatever you want. That’s reckless. That’s irresponsible. You can work 50-60 hours a week and still find plenty of time to write.”
“You are sooooo practical,” I mumbled at first, but something inside of me came alive. Suddenly I remembered that this is the same guy who wanted to rename my son. This guy didn’t care about me!
My voice began to rise and got louder with each word.
“Since when do you care if I get out of debt, or pay my bills? You’re the one who’s always telling me to go look at the big screen tvs when we’re in Walmart – we don’t even watch tv right now! All you care about is castrating my life so that I wander around like one of those retired bulls they’re getting ready to slaughter! All you care about is stuffing me in a safe little box where I won’t do anything of consequence!”
By now I was shouting.
“Just shut up! Stop lying to me! I have as much security right now as anyone in this country with a full-time job who could get their two-weeks notice any day! And the big man upstairs is signing my checks!”
I looked wildly around the cafe. Did I say that stuff out loud? The big man upstairs? Were my discussions with this guy turning me into some sort of gigantic cheeseball?
A long breath came in one long gust out of my mouth, and I cracked my neck. No one was looking at me. That was a good sign.
And the guy was gone, at least for the time being. That was even better.
I took out my journal and began to write:
December 18, 2009 8:48am
Feeling lots of uncertainty and a slight tinge of worry recently, regarding this coming year, even though I don’t want to and don’t necessarily have to. I’ve got enough jobs lined up to keep our bills paid for a few months. I think I was putting more hope and trust in getting a job than in God. I need to get back to where I was a few weeks ago – absolute trust in him and the plan that he has, not any sort of half-assed plan that I can put together.
Then I wrote this verse:
Psalm 13 : 5-6 But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me.
And this quote by Anne Lamott:
“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt – it’s certainty.”
To read the next post in this storyline, click HERE
If you want to read the VERY BEGINNING of this story click HERE. It tells about how, as a family of 6, we moved from VA to PA and into my parent’s basement, and how we decided I should give full-time writing a shot.