Today has just been “one of those days.”
“One of those days” that will be really funny in hindsight, and that was really funny as I thought about it being funny in hindsight, and then was immediately snapped back into reality by, well, reality.
As I posted before, I had a “revelation” of sorts regarding my abilities, gifts, calling, etc. and thought I had gained an accurate perspective shift and that FINALLY things would begin to come together. Not so as I had planned. The job interview that I thought had gone really well and that I would be a great fit for, and that would also be a great fit for me, apparently was not such a great fit in the perspective of the interviewers, who sent me a rejection e-mail this morning. “Okay,” I thought, “well onward I press! God has good things in store and this was not part of the plan.” Self-consolation only lasted so long. I immediately became discouraged and questioned my own employability, was back to questioning my purpose that I thought (and am still convinced) I was created for, if I have any marketable value or if I will forever be confined to mediocrity, and at the thought of “forever being confined to mediocrity,” along with making zero difference in the world and sharing hope with others, I lost it.
I played around on Twitter and Facebook for a few minutes, because that’s what you do when you’re sad and sitting in front of a computer, and then I noticed my Streams in the Desert tab and decided that if at no other time in my life that I could use some perspective, it was that moment. I closed out of my other browser tabs, and read the following:
“There he proved them” (Exod. 15:25).
I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in the great ship, building, or bridge. He knew this because his testing room revealed it.
It is often so with God’s children. God does not want us to be like vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel, able to bear twisting and crushing to the uttermost without collapse.
He wants us to be, not hothouse plants, but storm-beaten oaks; not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms. To make us such He must needs bring us into His testing room of suffering.
Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith.
–J. H. McConkey”
I realized, in that moment, that God knows the point at which I will break, and He is either testing that or revealing that right now. I’m not sure which, but regardless, I know I will not go past what I cannot endure. I looked up Exodus 15: this was immediately after the Israelites had miraculously crossed the Red Sea, followed by Moses and Miriam composing songs in which they rejoice in the revelation and salvation from God. They were immediately having their faith tested again.
I recently acquired one of those “inspirational” rubber bracelets (you know, the ones with various causes or inspirational sayings on them) from a Spartan Race booth at an expo that has “Spartan Race” on one side and “Unbreakable” on the other, I don’t think I’ve taken it off except for during interviews because it has reminded me of the truth that God will not allow me to be “broken” despite what circumstances may be or become. (Perhaps this would have spoken better of my character to my interviewers that e-mailed me a rejection notice? I digress..) When it first was handed to me, I thought “Hmm, how inspiring,” and then my thoughts progressed to 2 Corinthians 4 in which Paul is basically writing about not giving up despite affliction–“we are hard pressed on every side, but NOT CRUSHED..” and realized that God may allow for the fiery trials to come, but I will not be burned; He may allow for me to be knocked down, but I will not be kept there; He may allow the enemy to keep me “hard pressed on every side” but I will NOT be crushed, I will NOT be broken because He will not allow for it. I think this aligns perfectly with the illustration of the steel-tester.
So, with a little inspiration to keep going, time before my next scheduled pitching training session, and functioning on a tight budget, I decided that now was as good of a time as ever to head to the gym via bicycle. Apparently I had missed the forecast for high winds, because as soon as I hit the open road, the headwind hit me. It was only 3 miles of riding, but the majority had an uphill grade, and again, a rather strong headwind. I tend to think in terms of illustrations and analogies, and with regard to the headwind, CLEARLY this was similar to any affliction or resistance I could face in life and I thought, “well how perfect–I can choose to quit riding into the headwind because it’s hard or I can choose to continue to ride into it to get where I need to go because it will make me stronger! This day is going to be really funny in hindsight after I’ve persevered!” No way was I wimping out and turning around after that thought–absolutely I am going to get stronger! So, on I pressed, and resolved to do so personally as well. One rejection from a favorable prospect is not enough to get and keep me down. Then a UHaul drove past—it was a close call; back to focusing on staying on the line of the road.
I arrived at the gym, only to have another breakdown followed by a conversation with my housemate in which we concluded that we needed to “get out of the house” and that things would get better—we’re just in that refining and testing time. By then, I had only left myself 5 minutes to lift. 5×2 hang cleans later, I was out the door. I hopped on my bicycle, only to see a lady headed into the distillery for work. She complimented my sock-selection, and I said “thank you!” as my bike casually hit a speed bump…and down I went. Well, “over I went” would probably be more accurate. I looked up to see my bike in front of me and all I could think was “I am so over today,” and “I really hope my bike isn’t too busted to ride. I am SO..DONE.”
It took everything inside of me to not take my helmet and hydrapak (that I use to carry anything I need while riding) off and just throw them. I think what happened next was a mix of crying due to frustration, laughing at the sheer irony that the day was, in fact, seeming to get worse, and annoyance that she wouldn’t let me walk 50 yards to the gym to tell my housemate what had happened and that I needed to get a ride home.
I kept having mental shifts from all of the emotional duress I had experienced up until that moment, the climax of that moment, and the fact that this would—at some point—be funny. In hindsight, if I was laughing, crying, and blurting out pieces of sentences like I thought I was, I wouldn’t have let me walk anywhere alone, either.
Then, I felt parts of my body start to hurt: my shins had hit my pedals and had been scraped through my candy cane socks; I had fallen on my left palm, right elbow, right knee, and apparently my chin had borne the brunt of my head’s impact. It was then brought to my attention that I still had my teeth. Touché, first aid lady. It really could have been worse.
After being given first aid in a public parking lot, I was brought into the whiskey distillery, in which it was demanded I wait until my friends who were up in the gym came to get me. I was annoyed that I was not allowed to leave without being retrieved. I understood, but it was annoying nonetheless. So, there I sat, irritated and in a bicycle helmet with a wrapped knee, a wrapped elbow with an ice pack, bloody socks, and a chin slathered in antibiotic ointment, in a whiskey distillery waiting for my housemate to pick me up. I chatted briefly with the ladies in there, and think I did another combination of a laugh/mutter/sob/mutter/sob.
A few minutes after, as distillery workers had been sent out to retrieve my “friends in the loading dock,” which is apparently what the gym used to be, Monte came to get me. Another laugh/sob/mutter escaped, we headed up to the gym to store my bike, and she promptly returned me home. I got some water and a little food, and have concluded that it’s probably safer that I just remain on my cushioned couch for the rest today.
For some reason, I cannot get “Tubthumping” out of my head.
On an appropriately awkward note, I just finished up a phone call about an interview next week with a woman, currently a complete stranger, whose name is “Babe.” Without thinking about how I was wording anything, I concluded the phone call “Thanks for calling, Babe!”
Yeah, I’m done.
Can’t say I didn’t put forth effort by at least TRYING to live today.
“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down…”