emarkthomas

Trying to live love well through the power of the Everlasting.

Facing a New Season

Five days into my new job, and my life looks dramatically different than it did one week ago. It really hit me tonight when I got home from work and looked at the clock. Wednesday night: men’s group. Not anymore. This Sunday morning will come: church at CFC. Not anymore. And so on, and so on. Much will change in the coming days, but I think the biggest loss for me is my boys. My men’s group. This rattles me, just a bit. The vast majority of my life and my social circle stems from my connection to my church and, more directly, my men’s group. Without them, and with the requirement of a new social sphere in the form of my job and the way it changes my schedule, there is a huge vacuum to be filled. And it won’t stay a vacuum for long. And that hits my heart hard; I don’t like the idea of my life without my boys.

Let me share something with you:

All throughout college, I had the same thing for lunch almost every day. A sandwich made from a toasted plain bagel, mayo, swiss cheese, and tuna fish. My friends would marvel at the routine. It was almost as constant as the rising of the sun. Likewise, I clocked in an enormous amount of hours in the old Sprague Library. I had a “library thing” in addition to my “sandwich thing.”

My first stop was almost always the circulation desk, last station on the far right, closest to the periodicals. That’s where my dear friend Jilian almost always was, as she worked there. I’d lean on the counter talking to her until her boss would banish me, and then I’d head off to the quiet section, turn right through the doors, and walk all the way to the very end, to those floor-to-ceiling windows in the far right corner. I’d burrow into one of the desks there and do homework, read a book, study, whatever. It didn’t really matter; I was just so comfortable there. Like I was comfortable with my sandwich at lunch.

I’m not one of those creatures of habit that can’t function if my schedule is interrupted. I’m actually really flexible with my days and my time. But in the midst of the chaos that is my life, I forge for myself a couple little things, like library time or bagel-swiss-tuna sandwiches, that act as pillars for me. Rocks in the rapids. Everything else about my day/week/month can go in a completely different direction, and I can just shrug and adapt very quickly. And when I get over my head, I grab one of my rocks. My days at Roberts, even my best days, were laden with despair and depression, and all the chaos and stress that comes with them. Things like sandwiches and library time acted as safe houses, a place of refuge from the storm. A brief time of peace from the bone-crushing, heart-wrenching Sadness.

Of course, rocks change for different seasons of life. I’m not in college anymore; there’s no Garlock Dining Commons anymore. No Sprague Library. Well, there’s no Sprague Library anymore at all since Roberts built the B. Thomas Golisano Library, but you know what I mean. My rocks these days are my boys, my guys. My men’s group. Life gets pretty stormy, but then there’s a men’s group meeting, or a men’s group camping trip, or I’ll see them Sunday morning in church. Something. Peace of mind: restored. My soul: refreshed. Check and check.

Ah, but life moves on, and circumstances change.

In this new day-to-day season, my rocks will be gone, and I’m a bit overwhelmed by that. I know it’s theorectical that we can still see each other but really, once life gets going? I’ll no longer be able to be a physical part of our group, and that’s a big loss. Keeping in communication is great, but not being able to be physically present with my boys? Ouch.

I think on this, and my chest literally begins to ache with a very familiar Sadness. Ah yes, the aforementioned Sadness. I know this Sadness well. He’s an old, intimate companion. There was a time when this Sadness ruled my life, heart, and mind with an iron fist. He’s rousing in my chest tonight, and I know I’ll probably have to do some battle before morning comes, but I’m armed with something I didn’t have during the days past. I have the hope of the gospel of the Living God, and all that that implies.

Now really, what chance does the Sadness have against that? What chance does my chaotic new season of life have against it either? Yeah, none.

See, I may be facing a future in which I feel totally alone and insufficient. I may be looking at my new life and feeling despair ebb into my heart at the thought of being cut off from my community.

But I’m in good company, really. Moses, Joseph, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Abraham and dozens and dozens and dozens of others from the books of the Bible all found themselves in similar situations many, many times. Joseph sticks our particularly in my mind. Several times Joseph stared into a future that looked bleak and miserable at best, alone without even the hope of communication with any of his loved ones. Yet I Am That I Am showed up, and yeah, enough said. 

So tonight my future may seem bleak, and my heart may ache at the thought of facing a new season without my guys or my church, but the Everlasting is still the Living God of Joseph, and the Living God of Ethan. He sees my circumstances for what they really are, not just what they currently seem to be from my eyes. And even better, he’s not just a passenger, but God. He’s going somewhere with this, to the benefit of many people and the glory of his great name.

And that’s good news.

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