May 22, 2018

Weathering the Storm

So thankful for this man!


The journey of life takes many unexpected twists and turns. If you are expecting a straight, even, and smooth road, you're probably going to be a little frustrated when you encounter a few bumps in it. I don't know why we have these expectations of smooth sailing, yet we continue to be surprised when the wind suddenly picks up and blows us in the opposite direction of where we thought we were going. We just experienced another such "wind blowing." 

We moved to Colorado 10 months ago because the mountains were calling our name. Chuck's boss was kind enough to let him work remotely. All was well until January of 2018. Chuck's boss got fired. It made Chuck a little nervous, but not too much. He knew how vital his department was to the success of the company. Surely he and his team were safe. To be honest, he had considered looking for a different job many times during his tenure at this company. But the team he worked with was so close knit and tight, he wasn't willing to give that up. They were like family to him. He was willing to continue to put up with not the best working conditions in order to stay loyal to his team and their camaraderie. I admire that about him greatly. He put others first over his desire for 'security'. 

Then comes the fateful day of March 28. He had a meeting scheduled with the CFO. In under two minutes he was told that the company was getting rid of all "non-essential personnel" and he was one of them. Just like that, almost 5 years of loyalty to a company and it's over in less than two minutes. Two other members on his team also got the axe. It was a strong gust of wind that blew his sail in a direction he wasn't ready for. 

We never are ready, are we. Storms always take us by surprise. We have to wait them out. Trust that the sun is still up there behind those dark clouds. When all we can see is black, when all we can feel is the tumultuous waves, when all we can smell is fear...it's hard to remember the sun hidden from view and all those beautiful, carefree days behind us. Trust is not a character muscle we exercise every day. Times like these remind us of how atrophied it becomes when not in use.

However, this is not the first time our ship has been blown off course. This scenario played itself out once before. That time felt infinitely more scary. This time, experience was our guide and reminded us of how we survived the last storm. Not only did we survive, we learned a ton, all our needs were met somehow, and a new job was found...eventually. Chuck refused to let this twist of fate control him. He remained such a calm rock in the midst of this storm. He let us all hold on to him and as we did we felt less afraid because he wasn't afraid. He'd weathered a storm like this in the past and knew what needed to be done. So we waited. We kept living. We didn't fear. We reassessed our situation, made whatever adjustments we could and held on for the duration. It's the 'duration' that's scary. It's an unknown. It's the duration where trust is maxed out; where belt buckles are tightened; where hope is ever present. 

Because Chuck is Chuck (kind, loyal, generous, teachable, humble, hard-working, easy-going) and never burns a bridge, so many past co-workers and people in the business he's known and worked with for years reached out to him almost instantaneously. He had people telling him who they knew was hiring, giving him recommendations, setting up interviews for him. The out-pouring of love and support was incredible. Chuck worked even harder and longer than normal. He was at his computer 8 hours a day applying for jobs. He applied for over 40 jobs as his white board will attest to:


(Side note: in the upper right hand corner, the board also testifies to our multiple ping-pong games and scores and losing streaks against Bennett) - but that's beside the point. The more important thing to focus your attention on are all those companies. That represents a ton of work and time. Because of the nature of his work, he often has to complete a 'design challenge' once he gets further along in the interview process. These design challenges often take 10+ hours to complete. He never once took unemployment. He also had additional time to devote to freelance work.

But the most amazing thing of all is that in the midst of this storm, a beautiful rainbow poked through. He finally had time to finish the app that he's been working on for 12 years. Bookstack finally became a reality in the midst of one of his darkest times. That's the paradox of life, when something 'bad' happens, its not always all bad. There is much good that happens during the 'bad' or in the cover of darkness that we can't see or don't expect. That is why we are to hold this time with open hearts and minds and not be so quick to call an experience good or bad but to stay teachable and open to the moment. 

An oft recited prayer by St. Teresa of Avila was my constant mantra and had a very calming effect on my soul during this time. I've put my own spin on it, but it goes generally something like this:

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing worry you,
All things pass,
God does not change.
Patience wins all she seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

Turns out Chuck's previous boss, that got laid off 2 months before him, reached out to him with an opportunity to work for him again. This is the same boss that found him and gave him a job after his last firing. Here he comes to the rescue again. He offered him a position in a company that wasn't even hiring. He created a position, title and salary all custom to Chuck's abilities and skills. He would have never found this job on his own. This week marks almost 2 months since he was fired as well as his first week back to work at his new job. We couldn't have written the ending to this story better if we tried.

Probably the best gift to come out of this experience after having strengthened our trust muscles again is the living witness the kids have of what strength under pressure looks like. They will forever remember how their dad handled this apparent loss and how he gracefully and humbly continued walking the course without giving up. They will hopefully draw on his strength and example in their own lives for years to come. I know I will. 

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