Life is not always as glamorous as we like to pretend it is. People suffer. Sometimes their suffering last a very long time. And sometimes the only end to their suffering is death. I’m not being morbid or pessimistic here. I’m being honest and those are the facts. If you doubt it, volunteer at a local hospital, homeless shelter, hospice, a nursing home, or a mental health facility for a while. That will be enough to convince you. We don’t like to face facts. Facts are quite often too painful to face, but not facing them will not remove the reality. That doesn’t mean we should crawl in a hole and give up hope every time trouble arises. Things usually do get better, but not always. Other times we must seek to find new meaning in the midst of our irreversible circumstances. And sometimes we just need to hold each other’s hand and accept when it’s time to say good bye.
Personally, I have had a rough road to travel for the last four months. It’s certainly not as rough as others, but it’s been tough. It’s one thing to lose a job, but when your job is your passion and purpose, you lose much more than a job, and the loss is devastating. The options of what to do next are not very clear at all. Finding a job in the same field would mean moving, and moving effects the whole family. The only job I could find to adequately meet our financial needs would take me away from everything that gave my life enjoyment: family, friends, dog, exercise, and my church family. Within a couple of weeks my whole life had to be revamped and I’m still trying to pick up the pieces.
What has made matters much worse is all the set backs I have faced financially after losing my job. After the first couple of days driving, my truck broke down for several days. After than the windshield needed repaired. Then the heater in the truck would just stop working in the middle of the night making it impossible to stay asleep. Getting the heater repaired would mean that my truck would be in the shop for several days, so I opted to keep going and have it fixed when I went home. But this was at the time of the holidays and I was gone most of November and then most of December. Instead of going home for Christmas, I asked if I could just take the truck to Bartelsville, OK,where my family was spending Christmas. But that would mean the heater would still not be fixed. As I talked with other drivers, I learned my problems with the heather were not an abnormality but characteristic of those types of heaters.
It was during Christmas that I learned of another job with Schuster Co. up in Le Mars, IA. There after doing quite a bit of investigating, I decided that a move would be advantageous in many ways even though it would mean getting less pay at least for the first month. Changing jobs is always a gamble, and it hasn’t worked out as we hoped. This first month with the company has been one set back after another. My first day, I shut down after nearly sliding into a big ditch near Branson, MO. Next I got stranded in a big snow storm in Nebraska. I get going again and I end up stuck in San Francisco for several days because of the Chinese New Year Holiday. Then there were several short runs which never make much money. My worst set back though has been this week when my clutch went out leaving me stranded in Texas for several days.
I really needed to earn money this month. Paula was off work for several weeks after having foot surgery back in October. Then she had to have a heart catheter. During this, she has been having so much trouble just trying to breath because of her asthma that she has had to make repeated visits to the doctor. Medical care is wiping us out. Like most men, I wish I could have been there for my wife while she was sick, but I couldn’t. So she has had to deal with the loneliness too.
I’ve tried to make the most out of the situation, but right now, I am feeling overwhelmed. I hope people won’t think less of me as I try to process things in a somewhat public way. I’ve struggled with depression ever sense I can remember. It’s a constant battle, and sometimes I convince myself that I have it beaten, but it just comes back in new and unexpected ways. I have grown stronger in many ways. I have increased my arsenal of weapons to combat depression, but it is an ongoing battle with unexpected curves. Sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me and I feel like I can’t go on. But slowly I recover, pick up the pieces, and move on usually stronger and wiser than before.
Right now I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me again, and I don’t have many of the resources that have pulled me through in the past. I hope things will get better soon. However, if it gets worse I’m not sure what will happen. If I get in an accident and lose my job, for instance, we are not going to have any cushion to live on. I guess there isn’t much sense in thinking about that till it happens, but I can’t rule it out either. It’s scary.
I think we all have rough roads sooner or later. That is one of the reasons why we need each other. Why else would the Bible tell us to encourage one another. We all have periods of strength and periods of weakness. It’s normal. So what helps as we travel the rough road? The truth is we are all different and what works for one will not work for all. But I can share what helps me the most.
It helps to talk about it.
This isn’t as easy when I’m miles away from home, but I still have a phone, and I have a computer. Talking about it and writing about it helps me process it. However, there is risk that people will think less of me as express my feelings. This is so often seen as a sign of weakness. If that makes me a weak person, then I’m guilty as charged. But it strengthens me to talk and write about it. In a way it’s like praying. I express my pain, my bewilderment and frustration. I may feel overwhelmed and at the point of breaking, but as I communicate this, the process of healing begins. I hope people won’t look down on me as I express my feelings. I wish more people could feel comfortable doing so. It’s not the people who talk about their feelings that we need to worry about; it’s those who are convinced they can’t talk about their feelings. Those are the ones who blow out their brains while nobody had a clue anything was wrong.
It helps to know people care.
I don’t expect anybody to be able to fix the situations I face. I don’t want to be a charity case. That would just make me feel worse. I don’t want you to worry about me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. What really helps more than anything when I feel overwhelmed and alone is knowing that there are people who care. Just having people to talk to on the phone or write to on the computer. Friends–they help so much.
It helps to be appreciated.
I don’t always make the right decisions. A career in the ministry hasn’t worked out for me even though I felt certain this was God’s direction. It might not have been the smartest move to teach a class on the role of women in the church to a congregation who had already made up their mind on the matter and were not receptive to further information. It may not have been the right move to switch trucking companies at the recommendation of somebody I hardly knew. My hindsight is 20/20. My foresight really stinks. But those who are closest to me know my efforts. I always try to work hard to carry out my responsibilities. Even when it all blows up in my face, it helps to know my efforts are appreciated.
It helps to be forgiven.
Perhaps most of all, it helps to be forgiven. My life is plagued with mistakes. My mistakes often hurt the people I love. It’s not my intention, but that is what happens. I could write a book on my regrets. Through it all, I gain great comfort in knowing there are people who really know me. I mean they know me flaws and all. There may only be a few, but those who know me best can forgive my errors and still love me as the imperfect person that I am.
If you’ve taken the time to read this, I would also love to hear from you. What helps you on the rough roads of life? I would love it this site could be a place where people could share their own thoughts. I have shared mine. I would like to hear your’s as well.