Wednesday, June 29, 2005
So there I was...
I learned a lot in those 26 hours...Mainly, that I am a bit of a wimp if I cannot have a fan on when I sleep, and that reading and writing by candlelight can hold its appeal for only so long. I kinda felt bad for how dependent I'd become on the comforts of our modern world. What would I ever do if, God forbid, entire power grids were knocked out for days at a time, such as what happened in Detroit a couple summers ago? I think I might die.
So, I am using my mom's computer, as it is made available. Which means I will not be posting or emailing much until such a time as I have money to fix my own computer.
With that said, I'll do my best to keep this blog updated with whatever turn of events take place in my endlessly exciting life. This has been an amazing journey so far, and I'll do my best to keep all interested parties tuned in as the journey continues to unfold. Leave no one behind! :)
Monday, June 27, 2005
Now where was I...
Last Thursday, Herbie and I finally had a chance to sit down and talk about some things.
In the week prior, I had talked to his roommate, and expressed that I was feeling frustrated and hurt because I felt like Herbie was giving me some very mixed signals. I told him it was frustrating and hurtful that Herbie would be flirty and huggy at church activities, yet when I called him to ask him about something regarding Oasis, he did not answer his phone or return my phone call. I told his roommate that I felt like I was being treated badly, that Herbie was not being clear with me on his intentions for our relationship, and I was getting just a bit angry about it.
So, last Thursday, when we had a few minutes to talk, Herbie told me that his roommate had shared these things with him. He told me he was very sorry for misleading me, and that he never meant to do anything to hurt me. He did admit that he likes to flirt, that it has caused problems before with others, that he knows he should have stopped flirting with me once he knew my interest in him was genuine, and that he now realizes this is something that he really needs to deal with. He told me how much he cherishes me and our friendship, and that he doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize that. If nothing else, it was good for us to talk about these things openly.
Of course, I already knew...really, if I were being honest...that Herbie's interest in me was purely for the fun of flirting, but I allowed myself to harbor that hope that maybe...just maybe...I had it wrong. It turns out I had it quite right, and I'm glad he finally told me that himself.
I am still feeling hurt, but at least there is some closure to it. Boundaries have been established, and things are going to be different now. Still, I do feel just a little bit used, now that there is no escaping the realization that I was in fact just somebody to flirt with and help boost the ego (among other things). It's a jagged little pill to swallow, but I am choking it down.
I will be writing more later. It is hellishly hot, and it's time to go for a swim.
Friday, June 24, 2005
The next day came and went without a phone call from her. As did the day after. And most of yesterday.
Finally, the call came, and I was told I have the job.
I don't start until July 14th, because the doctor will be out of the office until then. However, the job is full time, pays a good wage, and offers health benefits. That makes it worth waiting for.
Finally having a job in place has lifted such a burden. I do not start my job soon enough to save my Jeep, but I've made peace with the fact that I'm going to have to let that go, and am now just praying that God will send me a buyer. Nevertheless, it is very much a relief to know that I'll have some income, and won't be falling too much further behind on things before I can start catching up.
I feel like some things are settling back into place. Other things are still very much out of place, but they will fall into place in their own time. Or better still, in God's time. God is allowing me a season of rest, challenge, growth, and learning greater intimacy with Him. As stressful as these weeks have been, I am grateful for them, because He is using them to prepare me for whatever comes next.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
A friend of mine told me there was an opening for a full time receptionist in the optometrist's office where she works, and I immediately turned in my resume. I went to the trouble of putting it on linen paper, sending it over in a matching resume folder inside of a large, also matching, envelope. My friend told me that the woman who does the hiring was so impressed with the professional presentation of my resume, she told the optometrist that she wanted to hire me. It's funny, the differences those little touches can make. I've sent that same resume out to soooo many people, without so much as a call back, let alone an interview. I send it out with all the bells and whistles, and I'm hired before I've even met the person doing the hiring. ha!
This job would be ideal, in that the hours would be WONDERFUL...no nights, holidays, or weekends...and, I believe I will also be getting benefits after 90 days. That is my understanding. Of course, I don't know what the job pays, but it's more than what I'm making right now. :)
So, I am interviewing for the position tomorrow, and will try to go in with an open mind... just in case, for whatever reason, I am not hired. However, if I am hired, I also have a couple of housing options I will give more serious consideration to.
One of these options comes from a friend in Oasis, and the other option comes from the mother of a friend in Oasis who is looking for a roommate. Both are charging the same, but one is closer to town, which is more appealing to me. I've spent the last year driving an hour to get to church, and I like the idea of being in town, right in the center of everything, and having to do MUCH less driving.
But, I'm not going to count my chickens before they're hatched. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
In other news, I am looking for someone to buy my Jeep. I love my Jeep, but the reality is that I am not likely going to find a job that pays what I was making when I left my last job, and I can't afford to keep up on the payments and still move on with my life. So, a friend of mine is going to help me list the Jeep on ebay, and he is pretty certain I'll have no problem selling it. It would be such a tremendous relief to get out from under that payment.
One door at a time, God is opening and closing avenues of progress in my situation. Through it all, I am learning much about trust, patience, obedience, and faith.
Yesterday, I was watching an Indiana Jones movie..."Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail", I believe. Anyhow, at one point in the movie, Indiana has to cross a chasm that runs through the center of a mountain. Of course, throughout all of this, he had been decoding an ancient map, and for this particular portion of his journey, the message was "Leap of faith."
Now, to look at this chasm, it seemed that there was absolutely no way to cross it. None whatsoever, without meeting certain death. Yet, to get to where he needed to be...to get to the place of saving not only his own life, but the life of his father, he had no choice but to cross the chasm. Realizing this, he said again "leap of faith", took a deep breath, set his face like stone, and took a step forward, bracing himself for impact.
He took a step and...did not fall far. Feeling something solid beneath his feet, he opens his eyes, smiles with relief, and realizes that there is in fact a bridge crossing the chasm...but it was so much like the walls of the chasm, it became literally invisble. He could not detect it by sight. He had to take that leap of faith, and then make the wonderful discovery for himself that the bridge, narrow though it was, did in fact exist, and he was not going to meet his doom on the jagged floor of the yawning chasm before him.
This scene held a very profound meaning for me as I watched the events unfold. I do feel like God has asked me to cross a chasm...leaving the certainty of the familiar to get to something that is unfamiliar and perhaps even frightening in its prospects, but it is exactly where I need to be. There are more questions than answers right now, and the only thing I can be certain of is that God has laid the path for me. That's all I've got. I am crossing the chasm of uncertainty, able only to follow the narrow path God has set for me.
I was talking with a friend of mine last Thursday about some of the things going on...or not going on...in my life right now. He reminded me that, often when we open our Bibles and read about the heroes of faith, we see them as larger than life. We see how awesomely God worked in their situations, and how He used those situations for His glory, and how these individuals seem like such heroic, willing vessels. He reminded me that we see them that way because we know how the stories end, but in the midst of everything they were going through, they were probably scared, uncertain, wondering what on earth God was doing, why they were going through things, etc...and had only their faith in God to see them through these things. All the while, they never imagined that their struggles would be used to teach generations upon generations what faith looks like.
I suppose it is easy to forget that...the humanness of our heroes. I think of the apostles. They were sent out, with little guidance other than a destination. They did not know where they would live, what they would eat, what they would find when they arrived at their destinations. They only had one little piece of information to go on, and as they walked in obedience to what little bit they did know, God put the rest of it together for them.
Throughout all of that, I am sure that there were times when they wondered if they had done the right thing, wondered if the uncertainty of this path was worth leaving the comforts and secruities of their former lives. Even moreso as the persecutions mounted, bringing more than an uncomfortable disruption to their already uncertain lives. And yet, in all of it, it seems they kept their eyes on the greater goal...that God's purposes would be fulfilled through them, even at the expense of their own comfort and certainty. Even at the expense of their own desire for control in their lives.
I think I sometimes forget that God is not always interested in my comfort, He is interested in my heart. I think sometimes God wants to see us squirm, just a little, so we can see what we're really made of. He already knows, but He wants us to see for ourselves. These experiences tend to peel away the veneer of religiosity, showmanship, and all other manner of "staging" we use, and show us what's underneath it all. It is only then that He can mold us into who He intended for us to be, before we got so caught up in the grind of being who we are.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I can't say I'm horribly disappointed not to be getting the job. Yes, I am experiencing a bit of let down, but I've known for a few days now that this job was not meant to be mine. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more a break from that type of work (meaning, within a clubhouse) seemed to appeal to me. Not getting this job is not a setback to doing what God has put on my heart to do. It only means that God has a different plan.
I have applied for other jobs, and am just waiting to see what comes of it. I am very sure God has a plan here, and I'm glad for that, because I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. :)
In the meantime, God is providing for my basic needs. I have enough money to put gas in the car, I have food, I have shelter...all I can ask for.
In other news, I did write a letter to Medicaid regarding the fraudulent practices I witnessed while employed at my former job. I do not expect to receive anything out of this, but am hopeful that, with Medicaid's intervention, the consumers will be receive the kind of treatment they so much deserve, and that my former employers will realize they are not without accountability.
All in all, lack of progress is progress, and I am seeing more of God's plan unfold.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
I won't go into detail, but it was a moment that showed me very clearly that, even if I were to follow my supervisor's instructions perfectly, it by no means assured that she would be satisfied with my job performance, nor that her personal attacks on me would cease.
In that moment, I recalled what Christ had told His disciples in Matthew 10...that if they went to a town that would not receive them, they were to shake the dust of that place off their feet as they left. And that was what I believed that God was telling me to do...shake the dust of that place off my feet, and leave. Being there served no purpose any longer.
In the three weeks since I left my job, I have had plenty of time to consider this matter. I finally took the time to read the passage in its entirety, and was surprised by what I found.
My first surprise came in Matthew 10:1 (NIV) " He called His twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to HEAL EVERY DISEASE AND SICKNESS."
This was a "well, duh" moment...It should have been pretty clear to me before reading that. My desire in working with folks with mental illness is not to dope them up on medication, and make that an end in itself. My desire is to be a facilitator of healing and recovery for these people. I think Jesus would agree.
While I am in no way dismissing the need for medication, or the valuable role it plays in a person's recovery, I am dismissing the idea that medication is in itself the key to recovery. Quite the contrary, in my humble, formerly medicated opinion. That is true for any illness. A cardiac patient on medication to lower their cholesterol cannot expect recovery if they continue to load up on cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Likewise, a mental health professional should not underestimate the absolute necessity of incorporating all aspects of healing into a person's treatment if they are seeking recovery. I think this is where I differ from other's in the field...I don't talk about recovery as if it is something that will never happen, or something that takes too much work.
Matthew 10:8 - 14 reads, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town."
Putting all of this together, I gather that Jesus saw His disciples as being capable of administering healing and deliverance through His authority, and not because they were all such wonderful, upstanding people. "Freely you have received, freely give", indicates to me that it is BECAUSE of their experience of healing and deliverance, not IN SPITE of it, that these men He sent out were such fitting vessels of His mercy.
These men, who Christ saw as being fitting vessels to carry His message and His mercies, were told that if anyone would not receive them, they were to leave that home or that village, and shake the dust of that place off their feet as they left. "Shake the dust off"...have nothing more to do with that place, symbollically ridding yourself of every connection to it.
Those were the words that sealed my decision regarding any potential lawsuits. Sure, I probably have the grounds to file a lawsuit, and enough evidence to win a nice settlement...but that would keep my feet more than dusty. I would be knee deep in the mud of that place, were I to proceed with legal action.
Verses 17-24 give clear warning to those who choose to go out in the name of Jesus and be His vessel in this dark world. In some ways, I experienced the very things mentioned here. My supervisor discredited me before my coworkers as well as clients, rendering me incapable of being taken seriously by anyone I worked with. Furthermore, she discredited me to her superiors, so any reports I gave of my reasons for leaving were quickly dismissed as being fictitious inventions of someone who,they need to keep in mind, is diagnosed with a mental illness.
As I read further, I was very encouraged by verse 26. It reads, "Do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed."
This was encouraging, because it reminded me again that this battle is not mine. I am being obedient to what I believe God is asking of me, and letting Him handle this completely. Therefore, I can trust that, in His way, and in His time, He will reveal the truth.
This morning's church service was also very encouraging to me. Pastor Craig spoke of the importance of God's vision for our lives, and remaining dedicated to fulfilling that vision. He spoke of the reality that our circumstances, whatever they are, are preparing us for His greater purposes in our lives.
The circumstances I am in right now are not a sideline from what God's purpose is for me...These circumstances are all part of His preperation for fulfilling His purposes through me. I am in the midst of a process that is, in every sense, teaching me what it means to be fully relying on Him. Certainly, this is not something that is in any way less important than the desire He has given me to be a component of His grace in the mental health field. Contrarily, the things I am learning right now in the midst of my less than ideal circumstances are absolutely essential to what He has for me in the future.
In listening to the message this morning, I realized I had become so focused on the product, I had become unwilling to endure the process.
The desire of my heart is that God is glorified through me, and if He is going to be glorified more at this time with me working in a grocery store in my hometown than in me working for CMH in the town I would like to move to, then so be it.
I have also had to come to grips with the matter of my own pride. One major barrier that has kept me from applying for work where I am currently living is the possibility of seeing former coworkers, and being the subject of the gossip I am very certain will occur. However, this comes back to the part about the battle not being mine. Also, not being so impressed with myself that I think I am in any way above whatever means of provision God may have for me at this time.
God has a purpose here. I have said that from the beginning, but I am seeing the reality of that more as this process continues. God knows the losses I suffered when I left that job, and I believe it is in His plan to restore those things to me, in His time. In HIS time. Thriving where He has me right now is not settling for less. It is learning to be content in all things, and in doing so, allowing Him to prepare me for whatever is next...not losing sight of the vision He has given me, but allowing Him to take me through the process of achieving it.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Let there be light!
I had the second phase of my job interview for CMH yesterday morning. I think things went well, and they said they are hoping to have a decision by the middle of next week. I was very impressed with the clubhouse, and how the staff interacted with the clubhouse members, and just the overall atmosphere of the clubhouse. It was quite different from what I experienced while working at my last job, and because of this, I realize that I have much to learn if I am hired at this clubhouse. Things are very different there.
On my way home from the interview, I dropped an application off at a gas station. I told them I prefer to work overnights, and this pretty well cinched the deal for me. It's not official yet, but the manager I spoke with today said that if the other manager agrees, I will start training next week.
This job certainly is by no means ideal, and the pay is hardly substantial, but, it is a paycheck, and that is what I am after at this point. If need be, I can do both the CMH job and the gas station job until God brings something better down the line...or until I pass out from exhaustion, whichever comes first. :)
As I said earlier, the power did go out. It was out for about three hours, and it turned out to be a very nice evening because of that. I lit some candles around the apartment, and spent quite a bit of time just reading the Word, and spending time in quiet thought and reflection. It was nice to be able to do those things without the distractions of television or the computer watching over my shoulder, beckoning for my attention. I used to make a habit of basking in the quiet serenity of candlelight, doing my journaling and reading by its gentle glow. It is so much more calming and centering than the harshness of the electric light. I think maybe I should do that more often...just turn off all the distractions, get back to the basics, and just BE.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Things I am thinking about...
If I do end up getting the job, that is wonderful. If I don't, that is okay, too. I was thinking that it might be nice to have a break from the field, and try something new. So, either way...whether I get the job or not, I'm happy.
A few of us from Oasis went bowling last night, and that was a lot of fun. At some point during the evening, Herbie asked me about the CMH job, and that lead into a brief discussion about my own mental health history, after which he asked me when I was going to start a recovery group at church.
I'm not planning on running out and starting a group anytime soon, but it did make me think...I do have something to offer. When he first mentioned it, I told him I couldn't do that, because I don't have a degree or anything. He just looked at me for a moment, a bit puzzled by my response, and said, "Do you need one? I don't think you do."
I guess, due to my four year gig at CMH, I am used to being told that, without a degree, there is nothing I can offer. Furthermore, that I have even less than nothing to offer because of my diagnosis. I am very used to being treated as though, because I have a diagnosis, nothing I say could possibly have anything but a negative impact on anyone listening. It is the sad truth...the CMH I worked for really did, and does, treat people that way. So, after four years of listening to that, it is very difficult to conceive of the notion that my experiences, and the grace God gave me to walk through them, do not negate my testimony or my abilities, but enhance them. Quite different from what I am used to hearing.
I really do think the church is missing it when it comes to helping people struggling with mental illness. I have believed that for a very long time, since my own experiences with how the church handles mental illness have been far from pleasant.
Back in October of 1999, I was hospitalized for major depression, after spending an evening getting acquainted with the sharp edge of a razor. I remained in the hospital for five days...a pretty standard length of time...and had a few visitors. One of the visitors was my pastor, who, after making small talk for a moment, said to me, "What sin is there in your life that brought this on?"
Even today, that memory makes me cringe. Mentally ill indivduals are stigmatized in literally every aspect of society (think of how often you hear the terms "psycho", "maniac", "nut", etc...tossed around ever so casually...think of the movie "Anger Management"), and when the church steps in to "help" these individuals, not only are they stigmatized further, but they are shamed. When the church is dealing with someone with a mental illness, it is not only looked at as a matter of the person's failure to handle their emotions, but it is also considered some sort of spiritual shortcoming...a reflection of their failings not only in life, but in their relationship with Christ. This saddens me in ways I can't explain. The church is the one place that should be safe for anyone, regardless of their circumstances...and the church is the one institution that feels it has the right to further shame an already broken individual.
I do think that some churches have made strides in extending compassion and understanding to those struggling with mental illness. My church recently had a guest speaker come in and talk about how a person could help a loved one struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. I thought this was a wonderful indicator of better things to come, and allowed those at least living in this community to know that there is hope beyond what they are being offered right now, and there is no shame in it.
Overall, though, my experiences have told me that the church is still very archaic in how they view mental illness, and is a long way from understanding the reality of mental illness. That it is real, it is not something a person can just "snap out of", that while there are most definitely spiritual elements, to blame it entirely on spiritual activity is irresponsible and, honestly, a bit lazy. And, not very helpful.
So, all of this is to say, if God would use me in ministering to those who are struggling with the things I have struggled with, I would be honored. Nothing is in vain, nothing is wasted, and if my pain can help heal someone else's, it's all for God's glory.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Vengence is WHOSE???
I continue to hear things about my former workplace that are infuriating, disgusting, and just all around upsetting. It is very difficult for me to hear these things, and not thirst for some sort of vengence...something to let these people know they are not getting away with this. But, the sad truth is, they are getting away with it. Every day. Every effort to bring any accountability into that place is met with the strong force of my former supervisor, who can talk her way out of everything, it seems.
I have been told by several people that I have very good grounds for a lawsuit that would likely result in a hefty settlement for me. I have toyed with the idea of going forward with such a lawsuit, but my spirit will not give me peace in that. I know I could probably find an attorney to take the case, who would go for the jugular and get me a settlement large enough that money would cease to be an issue. I could probably get an out of court settlement, because the agency would want to avoid the negative publicity such a lawsuit would surely attract. With that money, I could probably clear my debts, move, and live comfortably for quite awhile.
I am consistently reminded that vengence is not mine. And that's what this lawsuit would be about for me...it would be about seeing that my former supervisor and the agency she works for get what's coming to them. Yeah, justice would be in there somewhere too, but it would not be the driving force behind my decision to file a lawsuit. Not very good motives, and certainly not motives I could in any way expect to be blessed by God.
These are the moments when I wish I had no sense of moral absolutes, and no certainty that God was in control...Okay, that is my surface reaction, anway. My gut level reaction is that I am very glad this is not my issue to deal with, and that I am not the one who is going to hold these people accountable for what they have done to me and to others. I am glad that bringing justice to this situation is not my job.
I do think that all of this is working together toward whatever is coming next for me. The things that have happened to me have really stirred in me a desire to advocate even more strongly for those who cannot advocate for themselves. I have seen first hand how easily someone is dismissed on the basis of their mental health, and this is out and out WRONG. (I can almost guarantee that if my former supervisor was confronted with anything I said in my exit interview, she was quick to remind people that I do, after all, have a diagnosis that has to be considered, so you can't really believe everything I say. I have seen her do this with clients, so I am very sure this is what she did with anything I said.) I think God is going to lead me to a place where I can use these experiences to really help other people. I'm not sure when, where, or how yet, but I do believe it is going to happen.
I also believe a lot of what was taken from me is going to be restored to me in greater measure. But, it will be done in God's way, not through a lawsuit. This whole situation is a test of my faith, putting to me the hardest question...Do I really trust God?
I did not hear anything from the job I interviewed for last week. This does not concern me too much, as they said I would hear from them today at the very earliest, but perhaps not until Monday. If I don't hear from them on Monday, then I'll have to wonder...
In my job searching, I have realized that I am deplorably lacking in job skills. Marketable skills. Many of my skills involve people skills, but you don't often find employers who are looking to hire someone just because they love people. So, I have started taking classes at the Michigan Works learning lab, sharpening my computer skills so I can get a job that pays the bills while I'm going to school to learn what I really love.
So, God is opening doors, just not the ones I expected. And I think many of the doors being opened are the doors in my heart, and as they creak open and let in the Light, He is going to open doors in much more tangible ways.
And this old heart of mine...it keeps going back and forth about Herbie. Why are such things so hard to settle at times? Oy! But, I have not forgotten the lessons of two weeks ago. I also realize that feeling affection for someone does not mean that anything whatsoever has to come of it...they are just feelings.
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