Friday’s are probably the most celebrated day of the week as an adult. Saturdays and Sundays are great, but Friday is filled with hope and possibility of what the weekend might hold. Friday is a celebration of what was accomplished in the week now behind you or a departure from the terrible week you might have had.
March 19, 2010, began as a Friday to be celebrated over all others for myself and my wife. It was the day we were bringing our firstborn son home from the hospital. The hope of that day seemed endless, and would not soon be conquered by the ending of the weekend. We were filled with joy and knowing that many of our family were waiting at our home to greet us only made the day sweeter.
The nurse helped Ashley (my amazing wife) down to the car in a wheelchair because she had to have a C-section delivery due to the fact that Rylen (my super brilliant son) was breach. As Ashley sat in the wheelchair, holding Rylen, she was wearing the most vibrant and beautiful smile I’d ever seen. I drove our car to the designated pick-up area at the front of the hospital, and as I exited to help Ashley and Rylen both into the car for the first time as a family it was as if I was skipping because I was so overwhelmed with the goodness of the moment. Taking it all in, because it was worthy of a beautiful pause. Selah.
We had a 30-minute drive home from the hospital and it would be just the three of us for a moment. The Box family! We could finally say that.
Anyone that has had the pleasure of riding in an automobile with me has also been treated to the sight of my inner NASCAR driver come out. Like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, I just want to go fast! Not this day. On this particular Friday, I was the older gentleman driving in the far-right lane of traffic going unrealistically slow. After all, I was a father with a kid in tow. No way was I going to allow my inner speed demon to trump my internal instinct to protect my son. So, the 30-minute commute was stretched to what seemed like an hour.
About half way through the journey home I received a phone call and I almost ignored it. The only reason I didn’t was that Ashley told me it was my father-in-law calling me. He knew we were on our way home, so I thought perhaps he was calling to tell me to be sure and go slow and not drive so much like myself.
To preface the rest of the story, I want to point out that my father-in-law and myself are in business together, which is understandably unusual, except for that fact that my wife blessed me with the most amazing in-laws who I’m privileged to call family, friend, and co-worker. We both own separate businesses as consultants to oil, gas, and energy companies, but we often partner on projects. Our business thrives on project-based jobs which are governed by very specific contracts, so our work isn’t static but very dynamic in nature. If you don’t deal with change well, then our line of work is not for you. So, with that back-story set, let me continue.
The phone call wasn’t what I had expected in the least. In fact, it didn’t go along with the joyous theme of that day at all! He was calling to tell me that our current project had been completely cut by our client. This didn’t happen because we had done anything wrong, but as is usual in our business it happened due to a lack of funding from their investors. These things happen, and in most scenarios, we would have multiple projects happening at once, except this time we didn’t. So, what did that mean for me?
That moment was the equivalent of someone being laid off from their corporate job. There was no backup plan, and it was at a time in the oil and gas industry where finding new clients was becoming very difficult.
INTERRUPTIONS SUCK! Or do they?
I had planned on taking the next week or so off anyway because I wanted to be at home to help Ashley with our new bundle of joy, so we decided that we would take this time to reflect and pray in order that we might hear the voice of God clearly. Yes, I said it. Reflect & Pray! Both important, and sometimes I fear, lost disciplines in our current world of faith-soaked in digital stimulus. Despite my skepticism to this discipline, at least at that time in my life, I felt as if I had two choices: (1) Reflect and Pray; or (2) Sit at home in fear and horror of the tragedy that just happened. Drenching myself in self-pity could not be an option, so we prayed. A lot! Some might actually call it “begging” but it’s the best we could muster at the time.
Insert “Oh ye of little faith” jokes here!
Through that dark night of the soul came a business contact that was unforeseen, but welcomed. Long story short, before my time off as a new father, was complete I had landed a new contract with a small company local to us, which meant no more travel for the time being. Travel had been a consistent part of my schedule, so this was also a very welcomed change.
Now, this particular contract was somewhat of a demotion for me, as well as a fairly sizeable pay decrease. It would have been easy in that moment to complain about these factors, but desperation (I had NO job, remember) inspired gratefulness rather than grumbling. It’s interesting how that works.
Over the next 1 ½ years I worked on this project and found immense favor in the relationship with the man who hired me. Within 3 months of being on the project, I was asked to fully lead the entire team, for which I did not have the experience. I discussed those concerns with him, and he told me, “Jeremy, I see something in you that you obviously don’t see in yourself. This will be a baptism by fire for you, but you will NOT be burned up. You will succeed.” In that one conversation, I learned more about effective leadership than I could have from any textbook or business/management/leadership class or seminar (not that those things are bad at all).
His encouragement was a source of life for me that I desperately needed. My life had been interrupted and I felt beaten down by it. His confidence in me in the absence of my own provided me with just the measure of hope I needed.
In that moment a switch flipped inside me and I started to become the person he said I was. I began to believe him!
This interruption in my life changed the course of my business and molded me as a leader in my field. Because of that, it has also greatly impacted my entire family. By the time my tenure on this project was complete I had been completely transformed, and it impacted the next season of my business and personal life. As a matter of fact, it is still impacting my family today in the most tremendous ways.
So, let’s recap: I saw one of the most joyous days of my life turn into a financial tragedy for my family. This was followed up with a small measure of hope that was masked in the humility of a demotion and pay cut. In my attempts to “rally the troops” and be a good steward of this humble opportunity, I found myself being given favor, opportunity, promotions and raises that I didn’t feel I deserved. This helped not only form a new hope but a new reality for my future. Beautiful!
So, my question to each of you reading this is: “How will you respond to the next interruption that life throws at you?”
It’s easy to lose hope in the face of rejection and disappointment, but it’s never productive. Keep on keeping on, and as a good friend recently encouraged me to do: KEEP NOT SETTLING!