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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Part Three: My Job Search Joys

*note to my readers: this is the third installment in a sort of "catch up series" on my personal job-hunt. Here are the links for the preceding posts in the series.

In my previous posts I've been discussing some of the dilemmas and challenges of work life and of job-hunting. I figure it's time to take a breather from such serious fare and look at the other side of the balance sheet. Life has its hardships but it also has its sweetness. We are currently in the season of Lent, looking forward to Easter and the Resurrection - and yes, to spring. I often think that if the only image we had of Jesus was his Passion, in all its gory detail as depicted in Mel Gibson's latest movie (I'm told), many of us would run screaming the other way. But I don't believe that was God's intent with the crucifixion story. He gave us so much more. He gave us all the stories of Jesus' life and all of Bible history in fact. He gave us the Resurrection. I guess what I'm saying is that we need to put things into their full context. That's also true in our own lives -
and it's also true in situations where we've had the misfortune to be a victim.

Some victims are easier to recognize. They are people who have been in terrible accidents, or they've suffered harm from some senseless criminal act, or they've lost everything they have in a natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or they are struggling against some insidious illness we'd all like to banish forever from this earth. These people and their families are quite visible. Other victims are more invisible - they have had to overcome some great loss, or injustice or tragedy in their lives that isn't as glaringly obvious to the casual observer.

In any case, a victim is also a person with a whole life and a history and a family and a community. And that person struggles to move on, with or without recognition or help, because who wants the gift of an entire lifetime to be reduced to a single unfortunate event? Life is fresh every morning. We struggle to believe that and to go on, with or without recogntion or help. We want to believe that life can be so much more.

There are lots of things about my career with the university and Benny's job with the construction company to be thankful for - friendships, opportunities to be part of something larger than ourselves and to contribute in meaningful and enjoyable ways, and to constantly grow and learn and reach our full potential. One thing that I'm particularly grateful for at this point in time are the benefits of a steady and growing income for over twenty years, and the opportunity to build up savings and retirement. The fact that your career has rewarded you by making it possible for you to realize some of your dreams is incredibly wonderful, and I'm reminded of it everyday I get up in this old 1920's farm house that we acquired and started remodeling last summer. We are looking forward to starting a antique shop, and to spring and gardening and flowers, and are enjoying having a renter for our summer kitchen. I know one thing. If I had still been working at the university and Benny at the construction company, we probably never would have jumped on this new place when it came up for sale. We'd still be in our little 50's ranch of 30 some years, crowded out of our garage and shed with Benny's refinishing projects.

There are other considerations. We may not have had the fun of trying new venues for Benny's refinishing business, such as setting up for the Farm Progress Show and the Bridge Festival, and at the Antique Malls and experiencing those successes. We would not have wintered in Myrtle Beach last year. I never would have gotten a such kick out of getting to serve and work in ways so out of the ordinary (for me) the last few years. Greeting people and pouring a much welcomed cup of coffee. Bussing tables. Running a grocery lane. Stocking shelves in a hardware store. I never heard of a dremmel before, folks, but I can tell you what aisle it's in. Seriously, I've gotten to see things most people never get to see - standing in a pit underneath the assembly line alongside robots looking up at the belly of a brand new car as it passes over your head, seeing cars in various stages of "fetal development" as they move throughout the plant - seeing newly completed cars driven for the very first time as they come off the line. Being allowed to go where few people get to go - walking for miles and miles in the rain and the sleet and the snow and the wind and the sun among thousands of vehicles in the new car parking lot of a foreign trade zone in America's corn fields - crawling underneath cars, scanning them, starting them, pulling paneling off dash boards to inspect wiring harnesses, then putting it back on. I know it sounds like I'm being sarcastic here, folks, but I honestly am not. When you consider how much of our lives we all invest simply to own one of these inventions - well, it's kind of cool to get up close to the process and to participate in it. It's not always fun, but as I've already said, I do quite often get a kick out of it.

Another advantage of being in job-hunt mode is that when my brother Bert was seriously ill in the hospital on the east coast for two months, I might not have been able to stay with him and my stepmother Adriana for as long as they needed me - and have the opportunity to build our family ties.

Truth be told, I'm greatful for the timing of things in this job search. I was able to finish my masters degree in more timely fashion than if I had been working full time. I've also had more time to do self study and catch up on other areas in my field. It was kind of nice not to have to be starting an intense new job while buying and moving into and remodeling our new home, and showing, fixing up, and selling our old home. It was good not to be embarking on a new job in my field when Benny suddenly had to go into heart surgery this winter. My current employer at the factory generously gave me a month off without pay to stay home and take care of him and still stay on their insurance. Benny's previous employer's insurance covered his medical expenses for the surgery.

I guess it just goes to show that you never really know about things. At the time we're wringing our hands and asking why, we don't know that things often work out for the best and that in time, that truth will become apparent.

And the healing process goes on.

Happy Job-Hunting,



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