~ My Faith In God Is What Carries Me Forward ~
Faith can move mountains, right?
Well, if that’s the case… then faith can lift your house right on up off the ground too, right?
Sure. Yeah, right. I guess so. Whatever you say…
But no joke guys, I think, and believe, it can. Faith can do it all. Faith can move anything. Including your house.
Faith has all the power. Faith holds all the cards. Faith can allow one to complete seemingly impossible undertakings, and surpass insurmountable feats.
And what were these past two years... if not - one big, gigantic feat?
Looking back, boy, what a time to be alive...
If there’s one way to express my feelings on these past two years, it is this:
In order to persevere... I must have a Foundation of Faith.
And that foundation, even though it might be floating up in the sky(?) is what has kept me grounded, and sane, during life’s tough challenges.
Would it make any sense to you if I told you right now that I am living my very best life? Literally - right now. Every single day.
Throughout this pandemic. Throughout the ups and downs of the coronavirus, the surges and down dips in deaths and hospitalizations and body counts. Throughout global strife, this year, and last. International relations at their very worst in my lifetime. National relations also-the same.
Despite everything that has happened, and everything that is going on, and maybe even everything that is still to come. I am still living my very best life, each and every day. And I attribute that fact to one reason, and one reason only - my faith.
And there’s no doubt that this year, and last, have presented some very difficult circumstances, both externally, and internally. Personally, and professionally. Nationally and internationally.
There are actually far too many of said circumstances and challenges to name here, and nor do I want to name them, each and all. But these challenges and obstacles and pure blockades, were, and are, beyond overwhelming. And I blow my own damn mind each and every day with my ability to maneuver around them.
It took me a very long while, but I have come to believe, and actually understand and comprehend, that a solid foundation is exactly what is needed during life's hardest and harshest moments. And it is that foundation of faith, and my faith alone, that gets me through each day.
That statement is so very true for me and I genuinely believe it. And in my eyes, it is simply and purely because when things get tough, and when things are looking down, and when you find yourself falling into a deep and dark and despairingly black hole, you actually can’t fall too far… IF you have a solid foundation. Because on your way down, you’ll reach the concrete floor of your home’s foundational base. And it’s that foundation that will catch you, and stop you, from burrowing further into the cold and dark earth underneath, during your time of depression or sorrow - a time of sadness, and pain.
And whether, when I lived up in Illinois, and my home’s foundation was literally below ground, in a basement. Or, now that I live in Florida, and the ground here is too wet and springy and bubbly and swampy for my foundation to be below ground, and thus a basement here being very hard to come by... The foundation of my house is currently at grade. But either way, I still have a foundation. Its depth is just a bit different than I was used to all my life, previous to living in the South.
And that little engineering and structural design and home construction fact got me to thinking...
There were moments this year in which I could barely function. I could barely move forward. And I could barely even drink water.
There were times I couldn’t even swallow. Not even coffee.
There were equally bad times last year. I’m still not over it all. Nor will I ever forget all that has happened and occurred on my watch.
Life is hard.
And it always will be.
But our responses, and reactions, and perseverance, and - our foundation - of our very faith in God, is what will carry us forward.
And whether I stand up on my very own, or God has to drag me by my soft and fuzzy dog paw patterned fleece pajamas on out of bed, pull me up onto my feet, and drag me into the kitchen kicking and screaming to make the morning coffee - either way - I’m going to keep going. Heck, even if God has to lift not just me out of bed, but my whole freaking GD house off the ground, either way, and some way or another, God is going to get me going. And God is going to keep me going.
I tend to think that sometimes he does literally just that. I’m still stuck in bed. And won’t move. God gives me a boost or two. He tells me it's time to get up. It’s time to get ready for work. It’s time to go, CHRISTINE!
And when I still won’t move, and can’t even comprehend starting another day of life, that’s when God offers one more bribe. He tells me we can grab some Starbucks on the way to work. A venti hot latte, coming my way… if only, I will start another day.
And when THAT doesn’t work - you know I’m in a bad place. I’ve never met a Starbucks I can resist.
So it is then that God knows I am in the depths of despair (as Anne Shirley of Green Gables once said).
When a coffee bribe won’t work.
That’s when God really has his work cut out for him.
He knows that his Christine Pieper is doing pretty bad. Turning down a drink from her favorite barista. That’s the measurement of true despair.
He then says, the freaking heck with this.
And He, instead of dragging me out of bed by my feet, decides something stronger is necessary to get me going. He knows pulling me, myself, won’t do it just today.
So He decides to pick up my entire house - by its foundation. He rips it on out of the ground. And He carries me, and lifts me with helium and colored balloons, house included, over to my place of employment. I’m dropped off in the parking lot, with a smack on my butt for my misbehavior at that.
I walk on into work…
Dragging these ridiculous looking balloons behind me.
I punch the time clock.
Coworkers completely disturbed by all the helium floating along beside me.
And I start my workday. In utter and pure protest. Disgust at the thought of surviving yet another shift. Is this what success looks like?
I absolutely LOVE my work...
But I can hardly move a muscle or bone inside my body.
I always thought that having a solid foundation was imperative to success and achievement. Whether that achievement being going for the Olympic Gold, or dragging your sad and sorry behind out of bed in the morning and brushing your teeth. I’ve discussed with you many times before about that solid foundation and how imperative it truly is.
And that foundation is a rock. It’s solid. It has to be. And the other requirement, or so I thought, was that it has to be deep. And it has to be so strong as to compete with and support the weight of the world and Earth’s rotational axis and gravity itself to keep it from drifting away into the abyss.
But - maybe, just maybe - I have been thinking all wrong, this entire time. About that said foundation.
I’ve done a lot this year. And last. All throughout COVID. I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed or could possibly imagine doing. All through challenge and hardship. And all because of my light and airy and flowing Foundation of Faith.
I let God do the work for me. I watched as my foundation of faith was set free from the ground. No longer locked deep into the basement up in Illinois; unglued from its at-grade base here in Florida.
As I floated around in the sky. All these past two years of Covid. Here and there. Near and Far. Blowing around in the wind. Spinning and dizzy. With delight. Or delirium? Swirling around in the sky.
Up and down.
And upside down.
My foundation was NOT solid and rock heavy as I thought it needed to be. My foundation was light… and airy. It has become so very light that one could stick a helium balloon or two on top of that silly little house… and the whole gosh darn home would lift entirely off the ground. Setting sail on a wild and ridiculous ride. God blowing it in the wind. Only He - controlling the direction of flight.
And that’s exactly what the heck happened to me. And I’ve been sitting in a helium balloon filled house, flowing around in the wind, these entire past two years.
I’ve done NOTHING - on my own.
And I’ve done EVERYTHING - through God.
Nearly two years ago now I went back to work. But being without work for roughly a decade, it was a huge decision and obviously a life altering moment in time for me.
As they say... I did not come to the decision lightly. In fact, it was such a big decision, I relied solely on God to help me with the choice I ultimately made.
God guided me in that decision to leave the home. And I have come to know, only through my now vast experience in conversations and coffee dates with God, that my best decisions in life are the ones I make with Him… The ones where we sit and chat over a latte while listening to cafe music in the background. We hear the steam of the espresso machine as it drowns out the voices of others - all in equally important conversation amongst themselves.
And those decisions are potentially made in the blink of an eye. The snap of my finger. With the force of wind going through me so very strong that I nearly vomit.
One minute - I’m chilling with God at Starbucks.
The very next - I’m at home, curled up into a ball, on the floor of my home. The thought of throwing up too very much to control. Agonizing. Nauseous.
Next minute - I’m in the bathroom - head in front of the toilet. Awaiting the uncontrollable reaction that I know is coming next.
Would it make any sense to you at all if I told you the very best decisions I have ever made in my life are the ones where I want to vomit at the thought of the choice I need to make? And just after conversing with God on the subject matter?
I did a lot of research, and I prepared myself as best as possible.
How to go back to work after ten years?
How did I do it?
Or, after that initial choice, how do I change jobs, or career paths, once again? How to keep going? After starting work, all over, once again? Being in a land, now so foreign to me, I might have well been standing at the South Pole on day one of orientation.
How to rejoin the workforce after so much had been changed in my absence? After all, just think of the technological improvements in the last ten to fifteen years, let alone the societal changes as well.
Where the term “onboarding” is now known to all who work and get hired? What in the heck is an onboard, anyway? And most importantly, is it something I can use for surfing?
I am asked of my pronouns.
And they are proudly displayed upon a bulletin board, or in the employee break room.
I’ve never been asked that in my life. And it’s always at work now where I’m asked. I’ve even been offered buttons to wear. I can proudly display my She, if I choose to.
Do workers today have more protections afforded them? And perks, and shiny, little specks of bling thrown at them to get them in the door, and seem to actually be treated as human beings by their employers?
When I stopped working, I was not even wanted by my employer at the time. And I do think that was me personally. I’m not saying all employers are not actually wanting of their employees, but I do know I personally, felt extremely unappreciated.
I was way overworked, way stressed out, had a mere one second of vacation time per year, and was just expected to suck it all up, and work harder and harder. And my salary could not afford me even a studio apartment near my employer. All for what?
There was no enticement. There was no bonus. A raise at the exact rate of the cost of living adjustment - each year - and that basically meant my pay would stay the same every year of my employment. No real increase in relation to my job and skills and profession. No real raise based upon my performance. My individual circumstances were not ever taken into consideration.
And I worked hard and harder.
And ultimately, I ended up getting sick… and sicker...
Until the day I was too sick to work at all.
I lost my job.
Years later -
I was officially defined as disabled by the federal government.
Disease without cure, that which would ultimately end in death and inability to work for the future of my life on this Earth.
There was no cure to what ailed me. So says my doctors, and the United States of America.
And I had to accept that fact to move on with my life.
We’ve talked about my journey through chronic pain before, and the purpose of this post is not to re-discuss it here and now. But what is important today is - WHY. And HOW.
Why did I have the opportunity to go back to work?
Because faith can move mountains?
How - Because… faith lifted my very house up off the ground… and took me with it, and threw me into working once again.
I’ve accomplished more in these past five years since God saved my life, and the past two years of work, than probably all my other years of breathing, combined.
And it’s all attributable to my Foundation of Faith.
I was sick. And I was sicker. I was so very sick I did not know how to go on. With life. At all.
I felt 95 years old.
And I was in my 30’s.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t brush my teeth. I couldn’t put on some simple clothes and walk out the front door. And I couldn’t interact within society. Because I couldn’t even move.
My foundation was solid. And heavy. And that’s what I thought was the right kind of foundation to have.
But, I couldn’t move even if I tried... I was bolted to the floor.
However, little did I know at the time, a miracle was brewing.
Deep down in the underneathness of the earth, the swampy ground, far under where all of the alligators and snakes and cockroaches live, cause - Florida - that foundation began to move.
First it bubbled - like a spring. Disney Springs to be exact.
It bubbled until it shook itself clean off the ground.
And God decided to lift my entire freaking house, foundation included, off that wet ground. And pulled it on up into the sky. Taking me with it. Whether I wanted to go for a ride, or not.
I had no idea what was happening to me…
I had no choice in the matter.
Because God did all the work for me.
And at the worst part of it all is that, I didn’t even know that God was doing all the work. He was hidden, you see, above all the balloons I was looking up at.
So, as I pondered before:
Does any of this make any sense to you?
I have come to believe that if this does not make sense to you… simply close your eyes. And then, let God make the next decision for you and your life. And afterwards, open your eyes back up, and you’ll probably understand what I’m trying to say to you here.
And if this DOES make sense to you right now… Keep on keepin’ on.
Because that rock solid foundation I told you about all along. The one so solid and hard and deeply buried in the wet or cold ground, the one you need for the worst of days, amidst the worst of tropical storms and hurricanes, to keep you afloat… it really doesn’t need to be hard at all. It doesn’t even need to be concrete. Or cinder block. Or brick. It doesn’t need to be huge and firm, like my home's foundation back in Illinois. In fact, it can be at grade. And it can be very thin. It can allow all the snakes and lizards and maybe even gators, to get inside your house. Because it doesn’t matter at all how strong the foundation really is. It only matters that God goes ahead and picks it up, and transports the entire kit and caboodle, you included, where you need to be. And where you are meant to be.
And if you do happen to see any snakes and gators along the route, with the flick of the wrist, God will send them packing.
When I went back to work almost two years ago, little did I know that at that very moment I was sitting in my first job interview, there was a virus circulating in China. One that would spread and engulf the entire globe by its presence. I never believed that by filling out a job application, I would end up having to maneuver around the suffocating evil that was airborne all around me. I just thought I was going back to work. As a person with a disability. As a person that constantly needed to watch out for my own protections in the workplace. Because no one can protect me at work but me.
Within these past two years, I’ve had many hard, and harsh, and cruel, and disappointing, and exciting, and thrilling decisions to make, or be made, for me since I began working once again.
I don’t talk about my disability or chronic pain in specifics. And I would never even dream about telling all the people I meet that I’ve met God before. And that He is by my side at this very moment. And He is the reason, and the only reason, that I punched in today, and that I punched out today… with every intention of coming right back tomorrow and doing the same thing all over again.
And I would never expect anyone else, including an employer, to understand any of this even if I did tell them. But I do have a very harsh resume gap. Being nearly 41 years old, and not working for a chunk of my adult life, there are bound to be questions. What in the heck have I been up to? Why do I want to work right now? Why should they hire me, without prior experience/s they may be needing from their employees?
I can’t answer any of that. And nor do I intend to.
I can Attend though.
And I can perform. And from here on out, my job, and my work, is my choice. I choose what I can and cannot do. I know my limits. And I know the line I will never cross, just to earn money.
And I’d like to think that today, unlike when I left the workplace many years ago now, it seems employers actually want their employees to grow, and succeed, with them. Maybe it’s now not - What can the employer get out of me? Before dumping me to the side of the road, to fend for myself?
I do believe that employers today understand that workers need to feel like human beings. With differences, and needs, and desires, and personal goals they want out of work. And we all may have different paths to take. And not meant to stay at the same place for 44 years of work life. That inevitably, we will move on. And our journey will change, and we may not be with them as long as they may want from us.
And that all of this is our choice, not theirs. We, the worker, guide the economy. And it’s not the other way around.
But unfortunately, as I said before, a virus started circulating the globe, as I filled out job applications.
It spread, like wildfire, all unknown to the world, as I sat in job interviews.
There was talk about some silly little respiratory illness, but thousands of miles away, of course, as I began work and my orientation.
I was then being trained by day, and by night, listening to the news of a lockdown in Wuhan. Still so far away and foreign to me. What was there to worry about here? Everything, in fact.
And as I began really working day by day, all of a sudden a toilet paper explosion happened. And by explosion I do mean explosion.
First, there was a mass run on toilet paper throughout the world.
And the world got weirder… and weirder.
But then the world of humans got even stranger… On the fifteenth day after the initial fifteen days to slow the spread, or, basically on the fifteenth day of the next thirty days to slow the spread, or otherwise known as April 15, 2020… a paper factory in Maine literally blew up.
The stuff of dystopian movies are made of is exactly what these past two years of work throughout covid has been for me.
I’ve had the best job of my entire life - during the pandemic. I’ve had the worst. In these two years I’ve worked more new roles than in all the past twenty combined.
I’ve trained, practiced, and studied. I’ve taken tests, and been certified, in this, and in that.
And as the seasonality of the coronavirus and its strange and new variants have come and gone in haste, so too have other duties as assigned and staff and employers and their needs. I’ve gone up and down an endless roller coaster of surge... and wane. Flowing to the East, and back to the West. Up and down. Thrown on up into the sky. And then all the air comes out, deflated, and back into the swampy, snake infested mud I go once again. It’s been the ride of a lifetime. And to add to the strangeness of working throughout covid… all the while when so many countless others have had the opportunity to stay home the entire time… literally makes all of it all the more surreal.
I get foggy eyed, real fast.
Rubbing my eyes to make sure I’m seeing straight. This whole experience being indeed confusing, and quite messy.
I constantly find myself brushing the dirt off my feet, and sanitizing the palms of my hands.
I’ve tripped over my own two legs.
And I’ve fallen flat on my back.
And then I get right back up, for another wild ride.
My hands have been dirty. They’ve been greasy. They’ve been cut, black and blue, and swollen and blistered. They’ve handled and touched and transported substances I’ve never imagined I would be holding ever in this life I have upon Earth.
Is any of this really happening?
Or is it all just an endless dream? Or nightmare? And I just can’t wake myself up?
I don’t expect understanding or comprehension of my past, because it’s too confusing to even comprehend or understand myself. But I do expect - of myself - understanding and comprehension of one miraculous concept.
I made the choice to go back to work at the beginning of 2020. I consider myself in a very odd and strange position to be in life.
The cloud of virus storm brewing on the coastal horizon. Heading our way in secret, calm waves, across oceans to the American shores. No place on Earth left untouched. Human Resources Departments changed - forever.
I’ve been working all throughout the pandemic... With a GD mask on. With orientations cut short. Gloves and PPE. Shortages of everything and anything you can think of. Last year - Not allowed to sit next to my coworkers during lunch. My job has changed. Roles. Duties. People. Policies.
Hugging someone crying - not allowed. And then, all of us deciding together to hug and embrace anyways, cause covid policy be damned, if someone just lost a loved one, they are going to receive a hug. And I don’t care what CDC ‘guidelines’ have to say about it.
I’ve worked part time, full time, and overtime. I’ve worked strange hours. And I really and especially worked on those infamous other duties as assigned. Because what the heck is covid, if not falling directly under that final bullet point on almost any job description?
As corona surges, my job changed.
As corona wanes, my job changes once again.
Up and down.
Blowing in the wind. I’m thrown all over the place.
Trying desperately to watch my six.
Working for small wages, then more wages, then the best wages I’ve ever earned in my life, then even less wages once again. Phenomenal perks. No perks. Good hours. Bad hours. And some God awful really, really sucky hours.
And forever reminding myself that my work is not my life.
My life is also not my work.
My life is only, and forever will be, my faith.
And it is that delicate line, between my very faith and the exchange of money for labor, which I must always stay true to.
I’ve worked many a strange role, to help myself find where I am suited best, in my new work life. And, even more important to working with disability - My line in the sand has been drawn. I know, firmly, what I can do and will do, and will NOT do, for my employers. And I never once guessed that when I made the decision to work again two years ago, that I would ever even come up against that line itself. I always thought that borderline was so far away, that I never would have to truly worry about brushing up against it. But the awful truth is that - The place I never thought I would have to go - the line I know I will never cross, staying true to my own new life, my convictions, and my very Faith. I'm actually hitting up against that line, Every. Single. Day.
I am tested. And I am trialed. I am pushed to the very limits of my human heart.
The roller coaster of emotion. And stress. And policy. And drama. Bureaucracy. And life changing experiences. Has anything really changed since I left the workplace years ago? It may very well be worse than it was well over a decade ago… I really don’t know.
And I have no idea where I’ll be thrown to next.
I’m literally just going with the flow at this point.
I never could have done all that I’ve done…
Without faith in God.
But most importantly, I never could have done it if God didn’t pick me up, my entire house, foundation included, and thrown me on up into the sky, allowing me to flow in the wind, whichever way He deemed we sail. All the while, bracing myself, upon my Foundation of Faith.~
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