This post is a continuation of a story I told Wednesday. Click HERE to read that post first, if you’d like.
By Monday night I already had the new salary budgeted out. By Tuesday I was looking at houses. But Tuesday afternoon I got a phone call.
“Hey, Shawn, about that second interview. Look, I know you would do a great job in this position, but the guys above me really feel I should hire someone with this particular, specific experience, and it’s one thing you don’t have. I’m really sorry.”
I blinked two and a half times. I tried to swallow but it felt like my cell phone had lodged somewhere just above my already abnormally large Adam’s apple.
“Yeah, sure, no problem,” I said with the remaining breath in my lungs, one long exhale, leaving barely enough to say “bye”.
Wow. That was a hard pill to swallow. I called Maile and told her – she seemed fine with it (I think she was secretly relieved, in a way, because she didn’t believe we had given the writing thing a serious attempt), but when I hung up I thought I was going to start crying. Crying! Then I got mad at myself: what was I, in kindergarten? I angrily fisted the tears from my eyes and set my jaw, completely ready to begin the long journey towards becoming a bitter old man.
Then God said something to me.
Now, before I get into that, I know that some of you are really uncomfortable with the idea of God speaking to people. Some of you don’t even believe in God. Look, I am totally cool with either of those, and if you’re still reading I appreciate you tolerating my theistic world view. But let me try to explain this as rationally as possible.
As I was driving down the road I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that things would be okay. This makes no sense to me, because at that moment in time every logical piece of data said that my life, at least financially, sucked, and was heading toward worse than sucks. I was driving back to my parents basement, where my four children and wife were living underground, with about 2 1/2 months worth of income, and beyond that just a gaping financial chasm.
Yet peace overwhelmed me.
And the thing God said to me? “Why don’t you at least try really hard to make a living, doing what you love, and stop letting this fear of failure halt you in your tracks. You haven’t even pursued the leads I’ve given you. Just do that, as a first step.”
I remembered what I had prayed to God the weekend before.
“Fine,” I said, and I may have even said it out loud to myself in the car. “Fine, God. Look, if you want me to write, if you want me to take a risk, then I’ll do it. But this is what I propose – I will focus 100% on writing as long as we have at least 2 months income in the bank. Once it drops below that then I’ll take that as direction from you to look for a job.”
“And in the mean time I’ll make some calls.”
By the end of that month I landed three new writing projects that would keep us going for six additional months.
Suddenly I had 8 months of income lined up. And we were paying off huge portions of our debt. I was making more as a writer than I would have made at that job I didn’t get.
Whenever I share my story I always feel the need to clarify my position – I am not in any way trying to encourage people to recklessly quit their jobs, or turn down really good ones. I’m not saying that working 40 or 50 hours a week for an employer is an inherently bad thing. But I do want to challenge you – are you doing what you are passionate about? Are you pursuing the leads that you’ve been presented with? Have you reached out to others in your field of interest and made connections?
Don’t let fear, or the thought of discomfort, keep you from reaching a higher level of self-fulfillment and happiness. Don’t let our culture’s overemphasis on stability and materialism shackle you to a life you don’t want to be living.
Don’t be afraid to spend your life doing something that you love.
To read the very first segment of this story, which tells about how Maile and I made the decision to move from Virginia to Pennsylvania (and into my parent’s basement) click HERE.