We’ve all had those moments in life where something happens that will forever change us, whether for better or worse. April 1, 2006, was one of those days for me, and even more than a decade later I can remember everything as if it were yesterday. But it was the choice I made in response to those events that would set the course for the rest of my life.
Everything leading up to the disappointments of this day began almost a year earlier when I graduated from college. I had enjoyed a professional, paid internship in my chosen career path, which led to freelancing with that company and then another for even more money. Unfortunately, nobody could hire me full time in a “real” position, since I graduated in a time when journalism was at an all-time low. It was during the great transition from print to online, and nobody quite knew how to make that leap just yet.
So I freelanced all I could and took on other part-time work to supplement my income as the major freelance projects ended. I applied for anything and everything somewhat related to journalism or communications. Then, a local company offered me a job to do graphic design, which I had studied as well. The pay was good, and I was desperate for a “secure” job.
Some trusted older people from one of the publications where I freelanced warned me that this company wasn’t the most professional—to put it nicely. While I should have heeded wise counsel, all I could think was, Well, you won’t hire me full time, so what am I supposed to do? Stubborn, prideful and young, I took the job.
It turned out to be the worst career decision I ever made, and for two months I worked straight through lunch and then went home and went to bed. I lost weight and felt nervous all the time. The boss was decent, but he let his wife, who knew nothing of the business, come in and boss everyone around. I had never seen such chaos in my life, and had finally has enough, so I gave them a month’s notice.
When that third month ended, I had still not found a job and all of my freelance projects were completed except for writing one last article. I left and sulked for about a week, applied for jobs left and right, ate ice cream, and lived off of my last paycheck. Then, my mom and I were out shopping one day and happened to walk into a candle and home décor store that we liked. On a whim, I asked for an application and applied for a job.
The manager called me the next day, and I worked there as well as managed the front desk for my older cousin’s hair salon for the next half year. I continued to apply for jobs and even went on a few interviews. Nothing manifested, so I decided to pay a visit to the company where I had interned and freelanced. They still had nothing, and even worse, had just gone through a huge layoff. But one colleague knew of another company hiring. This turned out to be a Christian publisher I had never heard of before. I interviewed for a copy editor position, and I felt good about it.
I had stayed at my mom’s the night before the interview, and my granny called me to stop by her house on my way. She was trying to get my granddad to go to the doctor, and he was acting stubborn. He was like my dad, and he would always listen to me more than anyone else. I talked him into going to the doctor.
A few days later, my mom called to tell me that Papa had cancer. It was already spread over much of his body, and since he was 79 and in the first stages of Alzheimer’s, they decided not to treat it. Within a week, he was admitted to hospice care. Needless to say, there was no way I could have prepared for this news, especially in that short amount of time.
The next few weeks seemed like a weird dream, if not a nightmare. My entire extended family took turns staying with my granny around the clock. People brought so much food, and many of Papa’s old friends stopped in for a “last” visit. The pending job was in the back of my mind, but right now I was just concerned about Papa.
I was working at the candle store the morning of April 1, planning to go to hospice later that day when my mom called. Papa was about to die. I was literally decorating a treat basket for him while talking to her. I dropped the basket and felt a huge lump forming in my throat. After hanging up the phone, I told my coworker what was happening and left a little later. I wanted to be there for it, but not during it.
We all gathered at the hospice one last time, and then everyone drove to my granny’s house afterward. When I got there, my mom handed me a stack of mail that had come to her address. One was a letter from the Christian publisher saying they had chosen another candidate for the copy editor job. I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart as the most important person in my life just died, and this rejection was the twisting of the dagger.
At that moment, I felt a little like Job’s wife. I wanted to curse God and be done with all Christianity. How could He let all this happen to me—all on the same day! I felt like every area in my life was crumbling. To make matters worse, I was getting married in two months, and Papa was supposed to have given me away.
I cried again and then composed myself. It was in that moment of desperation that I made the most important choice in my life and prayed the most important prayer. God, I don’t understand or like any of this going on right now, but I trust You and will continue to follow You.
Long story short, it wasn’t a week later and the Christian publisher called back and decided to hire me after all. I still got married, and I realized that Papa wasn’t suffering anymore. God had humbled me from a cocky college graduate to an appreciate young woman. Most of all I learned the importance of Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”