head held high

Sandy: Still, I’m no stranger to heartbreak.
Frenchy: Why? You got psoriasis? (Grease)

I’ve never had a clue as to the context of Frenchy’s response in the classic film, but perhaps I could be forgiven for sharing Sandy’s sentiment that evoked it. I got “the email” I had been dreading today, informing me that I had not been selected for the videographer job I had interviewed for the other day. It wouldn’t be at all accurate to say I am heartbroken, though. Disappointed, definitely. But hope remains and my head is held high.

Losing a job (particularly one you enjoy) can be compared to the death of a loved one. I think it’s a fair analogy, because the stages of grief often manifest very clearly when something like that hits you. This has been true in my experience when I’ve had unexpected loss and soul-level pain literally blindside me.

This week was qualitatively very different than that. I might liken it more to a breakup after an intense but shallow relationship. I am thankful that I avoided these throughout school, but I’ve had my share of times when I’ve drawn mental doodles imagining an as-yet-unrealized situation I desired, much like a teenage girl might practice signing her name changed to share the surname of her current crush. At least this time it only lasted a few days.

I was encouraged to stay my course in a number of providential ways throughout this afternoon and evening, and come to think of it, the entire week. When Rene and I posted about the interview, 20 friends between us either “liked” or commented to let us know that they supported us and would be praying. I can presume there were many others who also prayed without engaging digitally. You know who you are, and we thank you deeply.

On Thursday, I subbed for the fifth time in a row for a 6th grade team who has requested me each time. I hinted to a couple of the teachers that I might not be subbing anymore if I got the videographer job, and they were sad for themselves even as they were happy for me in this possibility. One shared a comment that just might carry me through Mark Twain’s proverbial two months – “you have a gift.” She happened to be referring to my role as a teacher, but I’ve also heard it as a video editor and a youth leader. I am by no means defeated if God has gifted me in so many arenas, each of which I absolutely love.

Thursday night, we watched a stunning documentary called As We Forgive. It chronicles the story of two Rwandan women who had family members slaughtered in the genocide of 1994. It is a powerful story of how choosing to forgive the murderers after their 2006 mass release from prison made an instrumental difference in their ability to move forward. I want to continue to process this transformational 45 minutes, especially in light of the relief effort for Haiti and parallels I saw to a kind of tribalism in students’ lives as portrayed in To Save a Life. Suffice it to say that even when my pain has been intentionally inflicted, unconditional forgiveness has not come easy, and I have not suffered anything close to what these women had.

Tonight I kept a commitment to be at a concert for my 6th grade boy “Ben.” It was awfully long – he didn’t even perform until an hour in! But my conversation with his mom was not only strategic in the way every play, concert, and game I attend is, I also came away with renewed interest in seeing what I can do with my psychology degree. She works in social services, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I could plug in to that world. But the overarching sense I got from my two hours of chair time was that I have become an honorary member of a family that needs all the support and love they can get.

Even as I was writing this post, I clicked away to Facebook chat several times as I connected with friends recent and not so recent. And I found myself listening to Steven Curtis Chapman’s newest project Beauty Will Rise, with lyrics full of profound hope amidst the tragedy of losing his little girl nearly a year ago. Again, how can I not be thankful for every blessing in my life, regardless of what has recently happened on the job front?

When I encourage, give, or reach out, it breaks me free of feeling sorry for myself. When I think about the vast possibilities open before me, this one seeming defeat pales to insignificance. This was only the first full-time job I stumbled across in my newly focused career search. There have to be many others, although some could take me out of the KC area. I will continue to look for satisfying employment within one or more of the gifts I have been entrusted with, I will continue to build excellence into the fabric of my digital art, and I will continue to love on the students that I am so blessed to care for. Doing so lifts the slump out of my shoulders and swaps the scuffle in my step for a bounce.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1028607308 Jen Purling Baker

    I’ve been thinking about what you’ve written here. I want to share an experience that I have a feeling you will appreciate.

    I graduated with my MA and had our son, Kaden, within the same week. I was exhausted, but excited to see what the future may hold. I spent 7 years in college working full time while I earned two degrees- with the intention of setting our family up for what I thought was ‘success’. We saved enough money to allow me to stay home with Kaden for about 5 months, which was delightful for all of us. As the bank account got slimmer, I started putting putting out resume after resume after resume. I would spend hours daily sending resumes and composing what I thought was the ‘perfect’ cover letter for each position. Having done a fair amount of research into the positions for which I was applying, I assumed that I was well-qualified. One by one, and occasionally two or three at a time, I received rejection letters. Initially, I just thought that to be ‘part of it’, though after a while I began to get nervous…and the bank account got slimmer. I remember the day I sat on the couch and cried, I just cried and I prayed, “God, what do you want me to do…”.

    Meanwhile, I was dreading taking Kaden to daycare, dreading it. I assumed that I would feel otherwise and would be ready to get back ‘out there’, so this feeling was very unexpected. My stomach would sink at the thought of dropping him off…there, not with me. I kept sending resumes and getting rejections – I lost count.

    Shortly thereafter I noticed an ad for on-line tutors on Craigslist and frankly, I sent my resume, no frills, no effort, just hit send and forgot about it. This one would have been to good to be true anyway, at least that’s what I thought.

    I was hired. From about a month after my date of hire I started training and I’ve been working from home, staying home with Kaden for nearly 3 years now. The story isn’t over yet…

    While I was earning those degrees, I was moving further and further from my painting. Little by little, I was talking myself out of my dream – it was ‘too risky’. I was lined up to begin my PhD last August (again, the ‘safe route’) – I have asked that the application process be halted for a while. I’m painting again. I am painting every chance I get – and more than a little at a time, that dream is coming back into my person.

    So, God may have a very different plan for you. From your posts Andrew, you seem to be a very gifted teacher – to more people than you know – and extraordinary writer.

    • http://thisisnotabout.me andrew burden

      Again, I so appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage me. Writing has always been a way for me to express myself in a private, nonthreatening way. But recently it seems that when I’ve chosen to share my writing with others, not only do they sometimes directly benefit, I have the added satisfaction of knowing that I have nothing to hide. Thanks.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1028607308 Jen Purling Baker

    I’ve been thinking about what you’ve written here. I want to share an experience that I have a feeling you will appreciate.

    I graduated with my MA and had our son, Kaden, within the same week. I was exhausted, but excited to see what the future may hold. I spent 7 years in college working full time while I earned two degrees- with the intention of setting our family up for what I thought was ‘success’. We saved enough money to allow me to stay home with Kaden for about 5 months, which was delightful for all of us. As the bank account got slimmer, I started putting putting out resume after resume after resume. I would spend hours daily sending resumes and composing what I thought was the ‘perfect’ cover letter for each position. Having done a fair amount of research into the positions for which I was applying, I assumed that I was well-qualified. One by one, and occasionally two or three at a time, I received rejection letters. Initially, I just thought that to be ‘part of it’, though after a while I began to get nervous…and the bank account got slimmer. I remember the day I sat on the couch and cried, I just cried and I prayed, “God, what do you want me to do…”.

    Meanwhile, I was dreading taking Kaden to daycare, dreading it. I assumed that I would feel otherwise and would be ready to get back ‘out there’, so this feeling was very unexpected. My stomach would sink at the thought of dropping him off…there, not with me. I kept sending resumes and getting rejections – I lost count.

    Shortly thereafter I noticed an ad for on-line tutors on Craigslist and frankly, I sent my resume, no frills, no effort, just hit send and forgot about it. This one would have been to good to be true anyway, at least that’s what I thought.

    I was hired. From about a month after my date of hire I started training and I’ve been working from home, staying home with Kaden for nearly 3 years now. The story isn’t over yet…

    While I was earning those degrees, I was moving further and further from my painting. Little by little, I was talking myself out of my dream – it was ‘too risky’. I was lined up to begin my PhD last August (again, the ‘safe route’) – I have asked that the application process be halted for a while. I’m painting again. I am painting every chance I get – and more than a little at a time, that dream is coming back into my person.

    So, God may have a very different plan for you. From your posts Andrew, you seem to be a very gifted teacher – to more people than you know – and extraordinary writer.

    • http://www.andrewburden.com andrew burden

      Again, I so appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage me. Writing has always been a way for me to express myself in a private, nonthreatening way. But recently it seems that when I’ve chosen to share my writing with others, not only do they sometimes directly benefit, I have the added satisfaction of knowing that I have nothing to hide. Thanks.

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