But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
Job: 28. 12
This will not be a New Year's Resolutions post.
With that said, 2013 will be a year of restoration for me. Restoration because I am no longer fallen.
For eight or nine months the year before my daughter was born I was 100% comfortable in the skin I was in. I didn't owe anyone a thing, literally, I had achieved the impossible task of living debt-free and I had my eyes set on the next car I was going to buy. This while slating out renovations on ny Queens, New York, 1-bedroom co-op that I was either going to rent or sell. I fancied myself with nice clothes, shoes and ate well. I cooked at home a lot and was enjoying this, my so-called life.
Then news of my daughter, my second child, came and soon everything changed. Once she was born I lost the ability to find meaning in the life I had been living. My job no longer made any sense to the point I began to make simple mistakes I never made, even as a trainee. It was as if the people there were speaking another language. My need for meaning became all-consuming, self-sacrificing and maybe even self-sabotaging. I switched jobs in this pursuit and did well for a while. Meanwhile, the woman who would become my wife was plotting her escape from New York and went to work creating a strategy that would help her to crack through the "glass ceiling" in the workplace she so despised.
So as I began to strip down to the blood and bones to find my soul my wife was beginning to pack on muscle. It was inevitable that trouble would soon follow.
In the years that followed, we moved from New York City to Atlanta, Georgia. She completed an MBA and found a game-changing, job and career. None of this was without its challenges, hurdles and slight degree of heartbreak. But she did it, by the grace of God and her own will. During the same time, I became known as E.Payne, the
My wife evolved into a one-woman dynamo and by all outward appearances I had become an emotional crackpot who couldn't get a job if one came and beat me with a bat until the snot came out of me. I probably wasn't as bad as I've just described myself but then again I may have been worse. Meanwhile, I was learning the tools of my new trade, becoming a little savvy in Social Media and not just using it as a tool become Internet Famous. Then a "dream job" came to me wrapped in a bow in December of last year. It was all glittery. But all that glitters ain't gold.
In March of this year I told a Mormon friend of mine I had just come out of a "winter" that lasted for four years. She raised an eyebrow and told me she couldn't imagine how that was possible nor how I survived. But anything is possible when you are going through it. Little did I know that the deep freeze had yet to arrive. A mere two and half months after I sipped wine at a California vineyard during a blogger trip with my friend from Utah, I went into a meeting to find out how much my raise would be only to learn my position had been dissolved. I remember going to my car immediately after receiving the news and breaking down. I clutched the steering wheel and yelled out, "My family WILL NOT suffer because of me!" I hoped God heard me.
In June, I walked away from my experience stronger and more knowledgeable for it. But not without plenty of warnings. A trusted friend in the PR business listened to me talk about myself during another blogger trip and left me with some words that I meditate on every single day since he said them:
"You have no idea what you are worth. Stop thinking you have to prove yourself when you already have. You need to stop pricing yourself so low...now."
And thanks to sites like LinkedIn and this blog my hope was restored quickly. Recruiters were recruiting me, and small businesses wanted me to freelance for them as a Social Media Consultant. There would be no hiccups. There would be no suffering. There would be no doubt from my wife. All would be fine.
But all wasn't fine. Planned projects got shelved or postponed. People who hunted me down to do projects for them didn't have the money to pay my rate. But I took their money anyway just to pay some share of the bills around the house. Jobs I was in the running for ceased being jobs. The money that was supposed to flow barely dripped. Recruiters insisted I was qualified for gigs while employers politely told me I wasn't. The summer passed quickly and during the first week of the new school year my wife openly voiced an opinion of me that was just short of an entire character assassination. And that was only because I was the father of her children. My world had been crumbling for some time, but now the sky began to fall. I lost just as much weight from stress as I did from working out. In August and September I spent many sleepless nights staring into space and even more waking up at 3 am haunted by so many of her words spoken to me in anger --- anger for no longer being who I had been or what I had promised I'd be, the face-to-face rejections I received from employers and the indignities I'd brought on myself by not knowing my value.
It was in October when I first felt the pangs of quitting --- a feeling I don't really know. It was when the burden became too much to bear. I was forcing down food because I knew I had to but I couldn't taste anything. My hope, the core of who I am, what I consider my greatest strength, was failing me. Then somehow all the words that had been said to me lined up and made perfect sense. They told me I couldn't and wouldn't do it. I was a fool for having faith and I was a fool to believe in the power of love. My wife wanted me gone. My kids would soon have a part time dad. Everything that I stood for would be in the wind. The harder I worked against this happening the worse my life become. I got to the point where I couldn't go on. The Enemy of peace, which I totally believe in, told me to lay down and die. So I gave up, but I prayed in this prayer as I let it all go: "God, I am helpless. I don't know what to do anymore. Please operate through me. Use me. Do whatever you have to do. Take this curse off me. Please."
Within 2 hours of praying I had an exchange with my daughter's art teacher which ended with her giving me a brand new copy of "The Power of A Praying Husband." It was the most random thing I had ever experienced. But I quickly realized it was not even slightly random. By day's end after reading the first page of the book I knew I had been heard, finally, after so many years of praying to the wind.
The next day, out of the blue, a recruiter I hadn't spoken to in almost a year contacted me with a short-term job. When that job was complete, she called again with another one, and then another extremely high paying one (one where I set my price) and then just before Thanksgiving during a two-week dry spell of no work, just when those old feelings of defeat began to creep back up my spine, she called me to place me in the full time position where I'm currently working, heading up the digital/social communications for a private company. Here, I am making more money than I've ever made. The work I'm now doing is work I've always wanted to do. I've begun to take my wife out to dinners and buy her gifts deserving of a wife and slowly we are being healed. Christmas went off without a hitch. My family is not suffering because of me, nor were they ever. I had to exercise real faith to get where I am to actually write these words. Not faith where I can kind of predict the outcome but completely trusting God to make my life better and getting out of the way to allow that to happen. I had to let go. My journey is far from over. Though I have forgiven from the bottom of my heart some days I still wake up in the middle of the night with the words that have been spoken to me hanging overhead telling me I can't. There are moments when I am feeling very good about life when I have to fight back feelings of revenge. I am scarred, but not for long. I pray for my scars everyday and I pray for the people who have scarred me even more. I pray for my wife the most. People a lot more knowledgeable and faithful than I told me my time would come throughout the highs and lows of this struggle. They told me this was my preparation for greatness no matter how bleak things got. My mother, my father, the PR dude I mentioned earlier, my daughter's art teacher, and the few confidants I let close enough to share my spiritual battleground. But what I viewed as a wasteland they viewed as my training ground for good. And to each of them I am eternally grateful for their faith. They are my angels. God's gifts to me.
So my 2013 will not be a year of resolutions, but instead a year of restoration. I will walk boldly into that which is intended for me. Like Job of the Bible, I intend to be many times more than I have ever been before to the glory of God. I want to tell this story again and again and again. So if you've managed to read this far I'd like to leave you with this to live your best and most restored year ever:
- Know your value - know what you add to this life, your friends, your family, your community, your job and refuse to be undervalued by those who WILL try to convince you that you aren't special.
- Trust and use your power - when opportunity strikes, don't spend a single second doubting your ability to rise to the occasion. Stand up, speak up and use all that you have to step into what is yours. If you don't, rest assured someone else will. Don't be on the sidelines knowing you could've done better what you should've been doing in the first place.
- Love a little more - patience, forgiveness, reassurance...speak words that bear fruit and don't tear down, refuse to stoop to lower levels when you feel yourself being pulled down, resist temptation when you know you and/or someone around you will be hurt, resist the desire to defend and fight, instead seek concessions, be the peacemaker, see the other point of view - even if it is wrong and speak truth, calmly and assertively.
- Surround yourself with people who make you better - this may require you to seek out folks who are better than you. I hope your ego will allow for this to happen.
- Talk less, listen more - this shouldn't need any explanation, but revisit "Love a little more" for a refresher.
- Play - if you have any children in your life, watch them for pointers. Set your imagination free, find hobbies that allow your mind to soar: cooking, reading, working, traveling, chasing down that passion on the side (Note to men: if you have a family the bills MUST be paid first and the food MUST be on the table before you begin chasing dreams).
- Write down your goals - how do you expect to succeed if you don't have a plan? You don't have to physically write them down if that's not what you do but there's no way you're going to stay on task if you don't have any. And an unorganized mind makes for a disorganized life.
- *The bonus point - if you count yourself as a believer, pray and praise with all your heart mind and soul. Pray when things are bad and pray when things are good. Invite God into your life and do this FIRST. And all else will follow.
I challenge you today on this last day of 2012 to leave every unnecessary thing (and please don't confuse things with people) here so you can begin your own process of restoration in 2013, strong and filled with life.
Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.