My son left for Boy Scout Camp yesterday, so it’s just me and my husband this week. EJ had the day off yesterday (Sunday) so we decided to go on a “date.” We drove to a town about an hour away–the same town we drive to several times a week to visit the chiropractor–and got some Hot & Ready pizza. This is pizza that’s already made so a person doesn’t have to wait for it. It’s sort of like a pizza fast food place. We walk in, see what’s available, buy it, and walk out. It’s more inexpensive and quicker than waiting for the pizza to be made. We went to a local park and ate the pizza while looking at people boating on the lake and talked.
Before and after we stopped for pizza, we drove around and talked. We love driving and talking. EJ drove around the industrial areas of the town because we have talked about relocating to this city. The city seemed alive and full of activity, but we saw many factories and machine shops shut down and/or for sale. Not a good sign.
My husband said, as we drove around, that if he could change only one thing in his life, he’d change his job. His company is difficult to work for and they don’t treat employees well. EJ was recruited to this company when it was new, he developed some of their procedures and product lines, and now he’s on the assembly line. He went to school so he’d never have to work on an assembly line because the assembly line crushes his spirit. After we got home, EJ looked for jobs on the Internet, and as awful as his company is, he actually has a better job than most jobs he looked at. He makes about $7 more, he doesn’t have to buy his own medical insurance. The question is whether he stays at a spirit-crushing job or risks a move that might or might not be better?
I said that if I could change one thing, I’d want God to give me a sense of direction–to tell me what to do. I (and EJ also) have no idea if EJ should stay at his company or not. I don’t know if we should stay in this area or not. Part of me would so like to get a fresh start somewhere else further away from my family. I don’t know if we should move a few hours north, or an hour south. I don’t know if we should stay in Michigan or move out of state. I don’t know which state to move to. I also don’t know if I am right to separate from my family’s abuse (although I think I must), and I don’t know if the awful things they say about me are true or false. I think they are false, but if “every man’s way is right in his own eyes,” how would I really know if I am right or wrong? I don’t even know what restaurant to eat at when we go on a date. I have never been in such a place where I felt so directionless. Our main desire to do what God wants us to do, and if we KNEW He wanted us to stay at job and town, we would, even if it’s difficult. If we KNEW God wanted us to move, and if we KNEW where to move to, we’d take steps to move. If I KNEW that I ought to separate from my family–or not–I would. If I KNEW that I was awful, I’d ask God to change me (which I already always do), or if I KNEW I was doing the right thing, I’d keep on doing it no matter what it cost me. I don’t care if God leads us through difficulty and suffering because I know He loves us and is good. But I don’t want to stay in difficulties that I could change because I’m afraid to move on. We don’t know what to do, and we can list advantages and disadvantages to everything. I wish I had a sense of direction. The only thing we know to do is start dealing with EJ’s health problems and get debt free. That’s a start.
After we drove around, and looked at industrial areas, and ate, and talked, we headed home. We stopped at EJ’s friend’s place, which is about five miles from us. RB’s wife and daughter area on vacation somewhere. I don’t always like listening to EJ’s and RB’s conversations because it’s always about the moral, spiritual, cultural, societal, financial decay of our country, the bad times that are coming, and how they can survive it. To them it’s a problem-solving thing, but to me it just adds another negative thing to many difficulties in my life. I KNOW bad times are coming, but I am concerned with EJ’s health, his work situation, the difficulties of living in our tiny town, my family’s abuse, trying to raise a lovable but strong-willed child, wondering how he’s going to make it, and my own concerns about the decline of our country. Honestly, I don’t want MORE added to my plate.
But, actually, the conversation was interesting, and RB talked a little about his family history, which was very interesting, although difficult. We also ended up sharing with him some of our struggle with my Mom and family, and my decision to separate from the family and the abuse. RB said, “That is a sad, sad story. It is so sad it makes me feel like crying.”
Then RB shared a story that had changed hhis life. My husband had already told me this story when RB first told it to him several years ago, but it was good to be reminded of it. RB said that several years ago he was really struggling with the difficulties of his life. He started complaining about his life to one of his Christian friends, listing all the difficulties he was experiencing. The friend said, “That is a sad, sad story. Everyone’s got a sad, sad story.” Then the friend shared his story about growing up as a Black American in the 1950s and 1960s and watching his Dad die of cancer. There was separatation between whites and blacks back then, and because he was black, no one would exam his father, no one would admit his father in the hospital–so the family watched him wither away and die of cancer with no medical care. That story put RB’s problems in perspective, he said, and he realized that he isn’t the only one with problems, but everyone has a sad, sad story–many sadder than his own. He stopped feeling sorry for himself. This story helps me put my life in perspective as well. Even though we hear sad, sad stories all the time–stories sadder than ours–there’s also people who seem to have everything go right for them: nice jobs, nice houses, nice families, nice neighbors, nice churches, nice vacations. We start to think that we are the only ones with difficulties, even though we know we aren’t. We get discouraged about our sad, sad story of abusive family, abusive churches, abusive jobs, bad health, etc. But everyone has a sad, sad story. Being reminded of this helps me to stop looking at the sadness of my own life, and have compassion on the sadness of others’ lives, and start being thankful for the many good things in our lives. My husband is still working, we love each other deeply, we have a good son, we have a home, and plenty to eat, we have lovable pets, many good books, connection to the world via Internet, and so on.
Everyone has a sad, sad story, and our story isn’t as sad as many.