Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Bitter Taste of Humble Pie

I made a commitment before I left for Colorado in 1999, I reaffirmed it while living there, and I sort of followed through on it: I will return to Kentucky only if and when my parents needed me. That time came in 2009. After my return, I buried my mom and fled to Evansville for the comfort of another man’s arms. When that didn’t work out so well, I moved to Newburgh, closer to Owensboro I thought but eventually realizing not close enough. This realization in addition to my life “falling” apart, I finally decided I wanted to go home. The internal urge to go home to Owensboro, a town in which I loathed living, felt surprisingly strong considering I couldn't leave fast enough to get away from Dad after mom died. Everything about my life seemed to be pushing me in this direction: a failed business attempt everyone supported but few utilized; a humiliating relationship that offered me comfort on the front-end of grief, but misery on the back-end once reality set in; disappointing friendships that challenged my sense of self, my value system, and my drama-free zone, and; unsuccessful efforts in securing a meaningful job in Evansville. Okay, God, I get it! I surrender to thy guiding will. I returned home to Owensboro.

This decision was greeted with the taste of bitter humble pie. And to think I considered the loss of my job in Colorado, the loss of my mom, and the loss of my life I’d known for ten years as the dismantling of who I am. Ha! Little did I know it was the prologue for much deeper personal and spiritual renovation! Humble pie tasted like shit but I ate it anyway. I had to in order to figure out my life. Gratitude became the daily sweetener I used in which to get each bite down. First order of business was finding a job, anything that brought income because I had none. A part-time job at JCPenney blessed my life, and so I had something to do, a way to contribute. I remembered why I hated retail sales but I sucked it up and did it anyway. I gave thanks every day and looked for whatever I could find within it as opportunity. I continued to search for full-time work. I danced with despair and disappointment but quickly replaced them with optimism so I may continue moving forward. Job prospects were slim in Owensboro, but the more I leaned into gratitude for my JCP job, the easier each day got.

Then in August, US Bank Home Mortgage (USBHM) called. A $9 per hour, rigid 8-5 job at a desk doing one thing and one thing only, this position was a far cry from my $55K per year and flex schedule I enjoyed in Colorado. Yet another bite of humble pie I took. Again, I offered genuine gratitude to God, and expressed it to myself and to anyone who asked how I was doing. The USBHM position allowed me to do what I love: write. Yeah, it was writing letters in response to insurance questions or complaints, and for the most part, they were stock responses but they got the “Ferber touch” as much as USBHM would allow me to put on them. I had a purpose and that felt good. I leaned into it and this new career opportunity.  For three months I wrote letters. I had no idea where this job would take me; I couldn’t pursue any other position within USBHM relevant to my professional background for a year. Dad envisioned my becoming a corporate woman working my way up the ladder. I didn’t but I never closed my mind to that being a possibility.

Suddenly in my third month, I received a surprising email from Wendell Foster’s Campus asking me to return to discuss the job I’d interviewed for back in April. After months of “touching base” with them, I finally accepted the job wasn’t happening when I finally received no response, that is until mid-October. Expecting a conversation about the position changes, I found myself in a second interview! A week later I’m asked to pee in a cup. Another week later, I’m offered the position, and USBHM received my two week notice. I felt the gratitude erupt within me like I’d never felt it. Hope replaced the despair and disappointments of the past.

This new position allows me to do my heart’s work: to serve others in a significant and meaningful way. This life purpose and my continual focus on it moved me through challenging customers at JCP and hateful insurance complaint letters at USBHM. As long as I kept my focus on it, the darkness of despair couldn't completely dim my light and joy, hard as it tried. Humble pie became bluebird pie spiced with joy. Despite my circumstances, I fulfilled my life's purpose through my conscious focus on it.

In this last year I stripped myself of professional arrogance and pride,and let go of all the resentment towards the bumpy road I'd traveled since my return to Kentucky and towards those who were a part of that ride. I’d blamed everything and everyone but it was me who made those choices, me who held the perception and beliefs about it all, and me who created my own reality and experience as a result. Arrogance, pride, resentment, anger, all these and other pain-causing feelings are how our human Ego holds us hostage in struggle, drama, and unhappiness in our life. When I finally let go and chose gratitude despite only having fifty bucks to my name, and forgiveness of myself and others for the bumpy path I traveled, the light of gratitude, joy, and abundance broke through the darkness of despair.

Today I continue to focus on serving others with my gifts and abilities. Some days I slip and my attention wanders to worldly things, but I consciously remember and diligently practice daily the attitude of gratitude, love, joy and centering through meditative practices. I remember God’s got my back as long as I let go of controlling everything, and surrender myself to God’s will and guidance. When I stay in this zone, I’m led down a beautiful path upon which to journey. And everyday I give thanks for all that’s been and for all those a part of it, all that is now, and all that shall be.

Yes, even the humble pie.

No comments: