It’s just before 6am. Yesterday, after 10 long months of chaos, I signed paperwork to start a new job. I start today at 11am. Just the day before I finally threw in the towel on my two-year career as a real estate agent (which itself was begun so I could leave my beleaguered 28-year career in IT). Today I’ll start learning to sell insurance. At 48, I’m hours away from my third career in as many years. I never thought I’d be in this position.
I know as a Christian I’m not supposed to worry, but there’s a part of me that can’t help it. It took 10 months to land something suitable, and this wasn’t what I imagined would be at the end of the journey. But when it is the only offer in front of you and the savings are dwindling, there’s no need to over-spiritualize it and pray too hard about it. You take the job.
“I know it must be mind-boggling and frightening.” That’s how my friend put it. That’s exactly what it is.
It’s not the aspect of learning and selling insurance, although that’s certainly part of it. It’s a lot of things, really. This is the first time in five years I’ve had a desk job with regular hours. First time in five years having an actual commute. First time in five years working side-by-side 40+ hours a week with coworkers. And having my boss sit literally 10 feet from my desk. (Incidentally, how come I always get that cubicle?). And strange as it may sound, it’s adjusting to the new calm after what felt like a long, violent storm.
It’s not just starting a new job that’s mind-boggling and frightening. It could be an unwanted divorce. A diagnosis of chronic, incurable illness. A loved one’s sudden death. And it’s all part of life. Whatever it is, but especially when it is mid-life crisis to a man, when the storm comes, the biggest shock to a Christian man is when he realizes that not only is he going to have to sail through the same storm as the unbeliever (when he thought he’d be divinely redirected around it), but that it very likely will be a worse ordeal for him than for the unbeliever.
What my empathetic friend doesn’t know yet, because he’s just in his early 30s himself, is that in another 10 or 15 years he’s almost certainly going to sail into a long, rough storm called Hurricane Mid-Life Crisis that will make him doubt everything he’s ever known. Hopefully, it will only batter his ship when other mens’ ships around him are either lost at sea or run aground and ripped apart.
So what’s a Christian man to do? First, he’s to do the same thing a nonChristian man would do–do everything in his power to avoid the storm, if possible. But then he’s to make every preparation humanly possible for enduring it. What are some examples? Here are a few:
- Be a godly man. Do what makes a man godly: Be a man born again by the Spirit of God, then be regularly with the Lord in prayer and in the Word.
- Be around godly men. Not just church-going men (sometimes those are the worst sort of men to be around), but around godly men.
- Build up a healthy emergency savings.
- Keep debts to a minimum.
- Know yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Have marketable skills, and if you don’t have any, get some.
- Keep a journal. If you’re doing the first two bullet points, God will show you “wondrous things” out of His Word (Ps 119:18). Write them down. Sooner or later, you’re going to need them; and if you don’t, someone else will.
I had slow times in my short real estate career where I went without a sale, and then it picked up. When I had my last sale last October, I had no idea that would be the last home I’d probably ever sell, and would eventually be forced out of the business and scrambling for almost a year to find work. To press the metaphor one more time: Sometimes the Lord breaks apart the ominous clouds ahead and the tempest you fear is only a sun shower. Then again, sometimes what you think is only another rainy day that will soon pass is, in fact, the leading edge of a huge, ugly, nasty, slow-moving storm that’s going to be slamming you for months or even years. Not encouraging, I know, but look on the bright side: Be encouraged that you’ve been warned.
I didn’t see my storm coming. I thought it was just a passing shower. I certainly didn’t expect to have to abandon ship. It was only by God’s grace that I was minimally prepared at all. And by God’s grace, even my financial preparations lasted exactly as long we needed.
I see all of that now, but I had plenty of Matthew 14:30 moments, (“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ “). And while starting a new job and a new career, and one with only a small base salary and dependent upon sales is mind-boggling and frightening, I’m still recovering from the ordeal, but I can say that God got me through thus far. He’ll get me through this, too.
And whatever you’re going through, if you throw yourself entirely upon His mercy, He’ll do the same for you.
By the way, we sang this song one Sunday morning at church not long ago. I found it very encouraging. If you’re going through a storm right now, I hope you the Lord uses it to encourage you, too…
featured image: “storm inbound” by nicole ree, flickr