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Thanksgiving was coming and I finally was up and out of my room after my surgery. The drains were gone, the wounds were healing and it was time for the second part of the journey, which was nothing more, really, than a weekly doctor’s visit in preparation for the second surgery. And, o, here is where I should probably mention that somewhere during this time I moved from Clearwater to Citrus County, but that probably deserves it’s own blog.
Recently, it has become abundantly clear to me that these were days full of Grace. I read back some of the stuff I have written and it seriously feels like it happened to somebody else. With that being said, my days then felt without purpose. After I stopped teaching, I fell into what I can only identify now as a black – hole of loneliness. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was embarrassed to some degree because the general public did not know the back- story of my early exit from the school year; nor did they need to know. It really wasn’t about them. It wasn’t about anything but people who loved me looking out for me and making a very difficult decision on my behalf. Even though it was 6 or so months between leaving school and my surgery, it is all a blur to me. And the words that come to my mind is that my life felt so absolutely without purpose.
I had only known 3 vocations in my professional career. Teaching clearly had been taken away as an option. My only other job was as a research technician in the paper industry, and well, no, just no.
Could it really be an option? No way. But, I was not healthy enough to work a regular job; I was always ill; and we are talking high temperature pneumonia in both lungs kind of ill. On average, I fell asleep around 2 AM every night (still very true)—so I had to find something that I could do from home. I was paid through the end of my contract, so I had some time to figure it out; or as it seems fight what now seems like such an obvious decision.
“What if you are just a vessel and God gave you something special? It ain’t yours to give away, it ain’t yours to give away” Unknown
NO I AM NOT DOING THAT AGAIN. I SPENT A DECADE BUILDING A BUSINESS HELPING PEOPLE FIND JOBS, IT DID NOT END WELL. In my mind, the whole demise of my marriage was because of that business. How in the world could I possibly think of working that industry AGAIN? It was 2009, just a year after the stock market crash. Unemployment was in double digits. There was no way this made sense. It was an insane idea. It was an absolutely insane idea. And it clearly was NOT my idea, or thought—this came from that Still Small Voice that can’t be ignored. Unless you want to be Jonah—I didn’t want to be Jonah.
Still though, every time I would go there in my mind, I could see the 1995 version of myself. The version of me without injury; the version of me who felt indestructible; the version of me that had no fear—that was who I saw when I remembered 1995.
I didn’t hate working as a research technician in the paper industry. I did not like the corporate politics, and (I can only identify this now)—I felt as though my life was without purpose. Not yet married, but living together, I told him how much I hated my going to my job everyday. A few months prior to all of this, we had an idea for a recruiting business and was working it part-time. One day when I was ranting to him about how much I hated the corporate politics of what I was doing he said “come work for the company”. I was 24, and I had no fear. ‘What would I do?”, I asked. To which he responded “you will call people on the phone and get them better jobs, or find clients who want to hire you to find people”.
I used to say my “no fear” approach to life was a survival instinct. I now value myself enough to say I view it as one of my greatest gifts. And, here is where I issue a blanket apology to all my friends who get embarrassed when they are with me because I will talk to ANYBODY, no fear. ☺ Poor Crissy, possibly the shyest person in the world, though I think she is used to it by now.
So, with a degree in Biology and the confidence only a 24- year old person could have, I agreed. I look back on the wording of his offer and it is apparent to me that he knew I had to feel like I was living a life of purpose. He only stood to gain if I were successful; and the evil in him knew what words to use to so encompass my life, and be the controller of it.
Sometimes I think this is was the decision that turned me into a piece of property for him. Because, as it turned out, I was pretty good at calling people I didn’t know and asking them if they wanted better jobs. I was even better at calling companies who needed help finding employees, and selling our services. He didn’t teach me anything. I read books, listened to tapes, but mostly just learned as I moved along—and winged it—not different from now, really. And, honestly, it is a skill-set that is a gift, not mine to give away.
Before I knew it, the company was at $1M. There were some in between stages. But, things moved quickly. I went from only me recruiting and selling to a small staff of recruiters and project managers. It then became my job to sell our services full time, a job that sat squarely, on my shoulders. He did not help at all; he came into the office at lunch- time to yell at people, cash the checks, go to lunch and then go home.
My team’s hard work and success paid off. Finally engaged, we moved from a rented town home to the very first house I ever could call my own. Finally married, years passed and abuse began, but the bank accounts grew, material possessions grew, and at our height we were at 30 people working for us. September 11, 2001 came and went and with it, our business began its decline. Not different, as it would turn out, from me.
I was still chasing purpose and trying to earn enough money so that I wouldn’t get hit. Ultimately, we were so successful that we moved from our house in Jacksonville to what can only be described as a dream house, 3 blocks from the beach. And the wheels continued to come off; I was going down in flames. Everything about me was tied to a dollar amount on a P&L to him. At one point, I was hospitalized with what I know now was a viral infection in my heart. It was scary and it was one of the only times I ever thought he actually loved me. But, the doctors could not figure out why such a young person was vacillating between the ICU and the Cardiac Intensive Care Ward. I was barely 32 years old.
He was never one for visiting hospitals. So, I vividly remember a phone conversation with him. “If it is the business that is making you so ill, our marriage is more important to me than the business. It would break my heart if something ever happened to our marriage”. I still will describe that night as one of the best nights of sleep I have ever had. But he didn’t mean it. I got out of the hospital and things went right back to the way they were. Except I was injured now; I was distracted; I was broken. I was dying, literally. Incidentally, the virus in my heart? You guessed it, from him.
Now then, you can understand why God and I wrestled with His prompting of me to start a better company in 2009 that would (in my opinion) do nothing more than remind me of those times. The Call was to build a company with integrity; one with dedication; one with excellence; one with PURPOSE. I tried every way I could around it. But one thing was still true, I was still chasing purpose, and before I knew it, purpose found me.
So, the decision was made, the paper work was completed and now it was time for a name. One day Crissy and I were in the car and we decided that the very next song that shuffled on whoever’s iPOD would be the name of the business. Well, that is what we did, except we named our business after the group not the song—but the lyrics of the randomly shuffled song, still gives me chills.
‘Cause of Who You are and who I am in You
You make all things Pure,
‘Cause of Who You are and who I am in You
You make all thing True,
You make all things New, all things New”
Watermark, “All Things New”
There was absolutely no arguing the next step—but could He really make all things New? Could He make all things Pure? Could He redeem this? I was done fighting it; and in November of 2009, in a new house separate from anything that was familiar; I was at the helm of a baby company, with a mission to chase and complete purpose. Harmed, scared, and tired, some how I knew, I was going to have a front row seat to a redemption story. God, however, had a different time line than me.