23 August 2021

It turns out - I'm not over...

Today has been a super-emotional day. 

Maybe it's partly the Level Four lockdown we find ourselves back in, all of a sudden. Maybe it's the weird limbo of waiting for my Covid test results to come back. Maybe it's being stuck at home with three teenagers and two dogs, unable to leave the house until we get those test results. Maybe it's years of walking with my kids as they face down their giants, and the way lockdown threatens to derail all the hard-won progress, wrought through literal blood, sweat and tears. 

Probably it's a mix of everything, but this morning, all of a sudden I just couldn't.

This post is not about that. But that's the background to this feeling I have right now, this incredible gratitude, a fragile tenderness where tears are just below the surface.

Gratitude because - it turns out -  I'm not over.

I used to always have a strong sense of purpose. My faith in God and the feeling that there was a Plan gave me that purpose. But after my marriage ended five years ago, I believed that I had somehow become fatally derailed. I was done. Over. Finished with.

My life was off in a ditch with the shards of my smashed dreams and my hurting kids. 

Having lost so much, along with my sense of purpose, I just planned to see my kids through to adulthood in some semblance of okay-ness (i.e. hopefully no sociopaths) and then quietly retreat from the world to finish out my days as an observer, not a participator.

The crew

I've written about this a little before - the crisis my faith underwent when my marriage imploded. I still believed God was real (I'd seen/experienced too much to doubt that), but I figured he was done with me now that my life was such a mess. Not exactly a poster child for victorious Christian living, amiright?

Back in the days when I was young and idealistic and really thought I could change the world, my heart was broken for broken people. I did everything I could to try and help young people who everyone else had given up on. The 'at-risk' ones from broken families, with all those issues that put them in the too hard basket. Now my own kids ticked so many of those 'at risk' boxes.

How did that happen???

.I must have gone wrong somewhere, I was sure

I was also sure that if God had 'used me' to do his work when I was young, he had no further use for me now. I was a terrible Christian, with a bruised and smoldering faith that couldn't spark a light even in my own very small corner.

Like I said, I was over.

But then.

Needing to change my employment situation, back in May, I found myself scrolling the Seek app looking for a new job while killing time during cheer training. There was a job listing for a Grants Manager at a 'faith-based organisation' which caught my eye. I didn't think I had enough qualifications for it, but hey - at least I had 5 years' experience writing grant applications for a bunch of charities. 

I updated my cover letter, attached my CV and pressed 'send'.

The next day I received a call from the organisation - they had received my application and were really excited to meet me. When could I come in?

With the job interview booked, I figured I'd better look on their website and find out what kind of organisation I was going to be interviewing with. Te Whakaora Tangata... what did they actually do???  

My heart started to beat faster as I read about the way they work with "families other agencies have given up on..."

The clincher was when I saw that my old boss from Parenting Place was their founding Board member.

All the kids are taller than me now

Parenting Place had been my dream place to work. It became my community, my support in those early awful years of sole parenting. I thought I'd never get to work anywhere that awesome ever again - an organisation that really cared about its employees and invested in our personal development. Where I'd had the privilege of beginning a 'haerenga' (journey) into te ao Māori  (the Māori world) and learning te Reo (the language).

Restructuring had meant that I couldn't keep working there and I had been gutted to have to leave.

But now, here was this organisation, working with the kind of families whose kids I was once so passionate to help, with a focus on Maori, restoring the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of broken families - and Greg is on the Board.

A shiver ran down my spine as I saw the threads coming together.

Maybe I'm not over.

Te Whakaora Tangata - "Life Restoration for the People"

Three months later, here I am, so very grateful to be part of this incredible organisation.

At my job interview, I was told, "we're like a family here." And I thought, sure.

I was told, "you can bring your whole self to this job; we're here to see you develop and grow and support you and your family..."

They said, "we've been holding this job open, waiting for the right person..."

And that person turns out to be me.

Me - who still has something to offer, a part to play. 

Me - a middle-aged, tired, divorced, disillusioned Christian with barely a flicker of light to share.

Me with my messy life, iffy mental health and struggling kids.

Me - finding purpose and passion again.    

Bringing our new puppy home

Turns out I'm not over. God is not done with me. He has brought me to work at a place that embodies all that I have ever been passionate about, but he has also brought me here to help us heal.

All I could see were the messy threads of my life, knotty and snarled, like the back of a tapestry... but now I begin to see how each thread has added something necessary and important to the overall design. Nothing is wasted. And I find I am indeed able to bring all of myself to my new job, contributing something worthwhile to this organisation that works to see families transformed. Families like mine.

Why was today so emotional? 

Yeah, all that Covid/kid-related angst, sure. But what began with tears of overwhelm, anxiety and sorrow at the brokenness in my family, ended with tears of gratitude. 

Tears flowed every time I got another message or had another conversation with a beautiful workmate: "We prayed for you this morning, we prayed for your family... we're with you, Simone. We care about you. You're not alone anymore. Let us know if you need someone to come and bring you groceries..."

This thing that I feel... this tender, raw, tearful grateful feeling? I think it's hope.

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