I write on my cover letter that my “strongest suit is communication” and half of that is lie.
Sure, I can lecture a friend with a persuasive argument and bid them into readjusting their worldview. I can write both a convincing constitutional piece on prison reform and dribble out a creative swirl on the saving grace of Jesus. If I am being paid, I will write to the best of my ability all the projects I am tasked with and I will never miss a deadline.
But when it comes to my personal life. I suck.
My inbox is bloated and dusty right now as it accumulates emails from family and friends, from guest post writers and my bank. They want to know where I am and how I am doing and what now.
In this blur of a situation I have stepped in, my responsibilities are quick and erratic. Suddenly, a job opportunity. A request for an interview in exactly two hours after their email has been sent, and at this point of desperate reaching, I know better than to say no. Then they do. Or I do. And the whole thing starts again.
My aunt and uncle have been gracious hosts and good company. They’ve tasked me with one or more jobs to do around the house, watering the flowers and such. For letting me stay here, it really is quite the deal. We joke around, have deep intellectually stimulating conversations over beers late at night about politics and civil rights and how I probably became a liberal because of them.
And the day ends and I am nowhere near connecting to my family. There is guilt, absolutely, but there is also the reality that it is difficult to correspond when you’re trying so very hard to not be homesick. I’m doing my very, very best to keep my chin up when the email comes that the job isn’t for me, or the church is just too exclusive to let me in and now a madman has broken 12 different families in this city, a hundred different people.
And how self-absorbed does this post sound?
Here’s what I am trying to do. Or will begin trying to do. Will probably screw ten times to Sunday, but I think it’s important.
Treat emails like a spiritual discipline.
For starters, the fact that people want to be in touch with me is a blessing. There is nothing better than knowing that people love and care about you and are missing you like crazy. That is not something to be taken for granted, that is something to be grateful for.
Also, I need to keep a pulse in these relationships. When things get hard my initial tendency is to beat back the bad feelings, laugh about them, let myself go a little crazy and then keep on running.
But sometimes it ends up with me on the couch curled up with a tub of ice cream completely apathetic, totally unresponsive to the buzzing of my phone.
To be clear, it’s not depression or sadness, it’s more being worn out and frustrated. And instead of my natural instinct toward hope hope hope, I have to gather some good feelings and brew them up into something inspiring. Which maybe is a skill I’m learning.
I miss my family, yes I do. I miss my baby nephew and his babble talk and those first peek a boo smiles. I miss my friends who I received a care package from today, it was filled with letters of encouragement, socks, peanut butter and jelly, Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, popcorn and a Tupperware container of chocolate chip cookies. I miss their company, their desire to listen and to be heard, the stupid jokes and the acting-younger-than-we-are. I miss the way Minnesota leaves turn crimson red and yellow, the way the Mississippi seems to slow in the fall to an almost dreamlike pace. I miss it all, every last leaf of it, but I am also searching for something.
The next step? A great escape? A fat paycheck? I’m still uncovering it, little by little.
And maybe one of the ways to shoo me along this path is too keep in touch with those I care and love most back home. They are, after all, a wellspring of strength for this flailing job seeker, and I know that when my back is completely against the ropes, they’re there.
So loved ones. I am going to be better. Or at least try. It is for you, because I love you, but it also for me, because you keep me going.