Driving down the country highway, I place my right elbow on my car’s center console… and I’m drawn to this unexpected moment where I can’t get over how awesome it is to have a center console.
You have to understand where I’m coming from. Two cars ago, I did have a center console, but my last car did not have one. And when I bought that car, I thought, “No big, it’s just a center console.” But it didn’t take long for me to miss it, quite drastically. I even researched aftermarket center consoles to install in its place but backed down because of prices and the fear of jacking up my car.
Now remembering that, I’m snapped back to my current time with my current car and thinking, “Man, this is cool.”
This is all taking place as I drive to Starved Rock State Park. I’m taking a day off work to enjoy God’s green earth, and Starved Rock is about an hour from my house. Shortly after this euphoric wave about my car, a number of other waves of gratitude come shortly after:
How good this McCafe iced French vanilla coffee tastes.
A FaceTime call from my baby girls who are having a lot of fun playing as sisters.
Driving over a hill to see a beautiful sunrise.
My life didn’t used to always be this way. I have regrettably spent most of my 20s as an embittered person who seemed to be unhappy with everything. Though I would say I’m still pessimistically naturally inclined, I didn’t even try to see the good or the beauty in anything.
The biggest crisis for me came in the form of my career. For almost five years, I worked as a contracted employee. While I have no qualms at all with my vendor at the time, I didn’t like this concept of being contracted because it meant I could be laid off in a heartbeat if needed with no hope of any kind of severance. It weighed on me almost every single day.
Of course, I did seek more permanent employment regularly, but I kept having doors closed in front of me. Across those five years, I would apply for more than 200 jobs and go through about 10 in person interviews. At the same time, I’d watch people who I deemed less qualified than me gain employment in a desired position I felt I was more inclined toward.
It was soul crushingly depressing.
I sunk into a deep depression, and my relationship with God was certainly strained. For a time, I used to write to God in my Day One journal app, and going back and reading those entries is just gut wrenching. Some entries angry, some entries pathetically sad. Whatever the tone of the entry, the same question remained:
“Where are you, God?”
As if I was so deserving. As if God didn’t care about my plight at all. As if God didn’t understand the depths of my heart.
I don’t recall there ever being a singular “straw that broke the camel’s back” event, but slowly over time, the anger and sadness dissipated into acceptance. More humiliated than I had ever been in my whole life, I accepted my lot in life, knowing I could do nothing further to adjust the situation the way I wanted it to play out.
But what began as melancholy soon turned to joy.
Eventually, I did finally get the employment I desired, and I realized that God’s timing was perfect for the situation. That time changed my outlook on my career path, and without that time, I don’t believe I am who I am today. I never have been unemployed, so ironically… I am now very grateful for that time.
Couple that with the births of my baby girls, and my heart now overflows with gratitude for all the little ways in which God has enriched my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still have spells of negativity, but they are certainly less than what they were before. I now often find myself praying quick prayers of gratitude over the smallest things.
For my faith journey, this has been a major inflection point. Now reading through those old Day One journal entries, I can now see a marked difference between my outlook on God then and my relationship with God now.
It has made all the difference in the world.
Let’s end this post by checking out some pictures I took while at Starved Rock. God’s nature is truly awe inspiring, and I am so grateful for everything about today.