Hope Deferred

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Sometimes it feels like God is really mean.

Sometimes it feels like God allows me to have false hope, knowing full well that my hope will soon be snuffed out into the darkness of despair. Why does He do that? Despair is never darker than in the wake of hope, and God knows the effect it has on us; the bible itself declares in Proverbs: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”.

After my frustrating and hurtful performance review this week, I became a flurry of activity. I started asking around internally about any openings in other departments of my company, and I also started asking my broader network about external opportunities. Anything to get myself out of this very toxic, damaging work environment where I feel neither challenged nor supported; neither empowered nor appreciated.  

Within 48 hours, I had three leads – all of them promising:

  1. Internally, I found out about a Senior Reporting & Analytics role that sounds absolutely perfect or both my interests and skill set.
  2. Externally, a friend in Consulting told me that his company is growing and looking to hire people with supply chain backgrounds and industry experience. My degree is in supply chain, and I have seven years’ worth of pertinent experience. It couldn’t be a better fit.
  3. Thirdly – completely out of the blue – a headhunter contacted me through LinkedIn to ask me about my interest in a Senior Market Intelligence position at a well-regarded company in my city. They were specifically looking for someone with experience evaluating electricity markets. Guess what I did from 2009 – 2010? Market analysis for regional electricity markets.

All three of these possible job opportunities not only showed up within two days of my hitting rock bottom, but they also each felt like Godsends – direct answers to prayer. Each one of them had a job description that was very specific to my exact interests and experience – uncanny in their specificity and perfect alignment with my work history.

I allowed myself to feel hopeful about my career for the first time in months. It looked like God was finally moving, after literally years of crying out for me to be released from my work situation. The only question was: which one of the three options did God intend for me to take?

Answer: D – None of the above. 

When I started inquiring about the internal Reporting & Analytics role, I was told my boss had to provide her sign-off and approval. The chances of that happening are minuscule, although I continue to explore this option.

The Supply Chain Consulting role ended up being a no-go; with the continued low oil price, this company is now on a hiring freeze, though they were actively recruiting three months ago.

And the headhunter for the Market Intelligence role ended up contacting me back and saying that, although I have extensive experience in analyzing the Gulf Coast electricity markets, they are really looking for someone with experience in the Northeast markets. Really?! The skill sets are the same; all that is different is the market. They are significantly narrowing their skill pool with such restrictive requirements.

I am trying not to be angry with God. I am trying not to lose perspective on the fact that His ways are higher than mine and that He has a purpose in this. But why did He give me such false hope? Would it have been kinder not to show me these false leads at all? Or am I to be comforted by the fact that God CAN provide, whether or not He WILL?

In times like this, I have to remember to take my thoughts captive; to make them obedient to what I know to be True. God is a Good Father. He loves me and has good plans for me. And “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.”

Authentically Aurora

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Today is a Day for Chocolate Cake

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Sometimes you have a boss who says that you don’t ask enough questions and are therefore incompetent, resulting in a poor performance rating (no matter that one typically asks questions when one does not understand anything; not vice versa).

Sometimes that same boss, once you start forcing yourself to ask more questions, provides the feedback that you require too much oversight, resulting in a poor performance rating.

On days fraught with such inane and contradictory feedback, one must go home and eat a small piece of dark chocolate.

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Sometimes you have a boss who happens to be a micro-manager incapable of delegating meaningful tasks, and this boss may present you with strong criticism based on your supposed lack of independence or ability to provide meaningful contributions to the team.

Sometimes that boss will refuse to let facts get in the way of her predisposition to dislike you – facts like your track record for never delivering a project behind schedule, and facts like your negotiating millions of dollars’ worth of savings for the company despite your boss’s inability to provide meaningful work.

On days filled with such frustration and injustice, one must stop by Starbucks for a Grande Mocha Frappuccino.

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Sometimes you have a boss who is so disrespectful and maddeningly incompetent at her role as manager that you have to run into the girls’ bathroom to cry at the office, and you’re not sure if it’s out of anger, frustration, sadness or hopelessness.

Sometimes after you’ve already had a long day of work, the bridal boutique where you returned your wedding dress two years earlier when your groom got cold feet right before the wedding – that bridal boutique sends you an email wishing you a happy wedding anniversary and inviting you and your nonexistent husband to be featured in their magazine.

On days like that, one must go home and bake oneself an ENTIRE FREAKING LOAF OF CHOCOLATE CAKE.

To be eaten alone.

On the couch.

In one sitting.

Today is a day for chocolate cake.

Authentically Aurora

Reconciliation

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I talked with Grant today.

He apologized sincerely. He was afraid to call, unsure how angry I would still be. He didn’t sleep well last night and felt horrible about what he said and did after the concert.

Of his own volition, he acknowledged that he is selfish, immature, and has unrealistic expectations for the woman he dates and ultimately marries. He has never been able to make a relationship last, and he told me that he knows he has some growing up to do.

He wants to seek the Lord and get his life in order so that he can be ready for a legitimate relationship. “I have a lot of growing up to do before I’m ready to be a spiritual leader.” He wants to learn how to date seriously and with intentionality. Not with me; we established that. But with someone. Someday.

And he wanted to affirm me. Admitting that he spoke too harshly, he wanted me to hear that I am:

Encouraging, Supportive, Uplifting

Sweet, Kind, Thoughtful

Honest, Authentic, Real

Smart, Savvy, Successful

My encouraging nature is his favorite thing about me. “You believe in me in ways no one else does. You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” Yes, I do. That’s because I believe you are teachable, self-reflective, and genuinely want to be a godly  man. And when we align our desires with God’s, we can be sure that we have what we have asked of Him (1 John 5).

I’m glad we reconciled. His friendship is one I did not want to lose.

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. -Matthew 5:23-24

Authentically Aurora

Life, Punctuated

Sidewalk exclamation point

In the sidewalk on the way from my office’s parking garage to the building, there are two holes in the concrete, one more elongated than the other, such that they look like an exclamation point. Having worked for the same company for nearly seven years now, I can honestly say that I have walked past this punctuation mark literally hundreds of times, but its meaning to me is ever changing.

Over the years, walking in and out of the office in various moods and seasons of life, this little exclamation point has meant so many different things to me. When I first started working straight out of college, it was a symbol of exuberance and excitement. My first real job!

During later years, it was an exclamation of frustration. Why is everything so difficult?! Other times, it represented outbursts of anger or bitterness – toward people, life situations or even myself. Sometimes, in more recent years, these two little holes in the sidewalk have been a cry out to God from the depths of a broken heart.

With an intensity like mine, regardless of my current emotion, that emotion is always felt – and expressed – with an exclamation point. I don’t do anything halfway. Every thought and feeling is punctuated with a depth and intensity that can only be represented by an exclamation point.

And so, in my mind, I have adopted this little marking in the sidewalk. It has been my constant companion these many years, always appearing the same to passersby but transforming in meaning for those with eyes to see.

Authentically Aurora

Operation SLR

BeTransformedEver since my conversation with Diana last week, I’ve been working on re-framing my thinking to be more positive. I want to “not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of [my] mind” (Rom. 12:2) and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). I want to “beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Cor. 9:27), exercising discipline and self-control over my thoughts so that I am not ruled by my emotions. It’s ironically discipline that often results in freedom. 

I’ve even come up with my own acronym (and you know it’s getting serious when acronyms get involved)! The acronym I am starting to speak over myself is SLR. I’m a camera girl, so to me, this has traditionally meant Single-Lens Reflex, but I’ve rebranded it in my brain to mean: Stop. Laugh. Roll it off.

Every time something happens that causes me to begin feeling upset (or mad or frustrated or frazzled or anxious or stressed – so, basically, everything), I want to SLR: Stop, Laugh and let it Roll off my shoulders. I started implementing SLR last week and, naturally, as soon as I decided to not let things bother me, it feels like everything has been going wrong. The instant I decided to actively exercise discipline over my thoughts in an effort to moderate negative emotions, life went haywire.

On day one of Operation SLR, a maintenance crew came to do work on my apartment. But in the process of window repair, they moved my heavy queen-sized bed, making it off-center from the paintings I had just nailed into the wall the day prior. Upon arriving home from work, I also discovered that one corner of the bed frame had been placed on top of my pajamas when the maintenance crew moved the bed.

I tried rescuing my pajama pants on my own – and then tried moving the bed on my own – all to no avail. I started to get really irritated (why can’t anyone ever just do their job right?!) when I remembered to SLR: Stop, Laugh, and Roll it off. I took a deep breath and called my apartment office. The maintenance crew was back within the hour to right the situation. It was a non-event. And I was glad I didn’t allow myself to get more worked up about it.

On days two through five of Operation SLR, I missed the mascara tube with the wand, getting black goop all over my left hand while running late for work; felt isolated, ignored and rejected at a social event; had another driver try changing lanes into my car on the freeway again; experienced double standards in the workplace and had my song suggestion shot down at choir rehearsal. Each time, I had to ask myself, “Is your frustration helping or hurting the situation?”

Diana made the comment to me that a difference between her mindset and mine is that I tend to think, “Why does everything happen to me?” But, according to Diana, “All of those things happen to me, too. I just choose not to focus on them.” So, in addition to SLR, I started trying to pick out the positive events in my week: a man helped me carry heavy boxes of donations to a shelter; I was selected for a solo in choir; I made a new friend at church and an acquaintance took the time to teach me a new software program.

On Sunday, rounding out the end of my first week implementing the power of positive thinking, I was determined to finish strong. So, of course, when I backed out of my parking spot on the way to church, the re-bar protruding from a parking block caught under my front bumper and pulled it off. I just sighed, got out of my car, and walked around front to examine the damage.

It’s going to cost between $700 and $1200 to repair my brand new car, and my insurance agent said that my premium may go up since “you are responsible for not having a collision with a stationary object.” Right. Because the protruding re-bar was totally my fault. Thanks a lot, insurance guy.

I got through Sunday by looking forward to a dinner I’d planned for Wednesday night. A fancy restaurant in town is offering a discounted menu for charity, and I made a reservation for six with a group from church – a group that includes Bo, much to the delight of my giddy inner girly girl with a mega crush on this dreamboat of a man.

But on Monday morning, I was awoken by an early morning text message from Bo: “Hey… sorry to have to bail on you for dinner… but I just realized it’s on Wednesday night… and I have a standing date that night for accountability/discipleship with my roommate. Have fun and eat an undercooked steak for me!”

I definitely Stopped in my tracks. And might have Laughed a low, embittered grunt. And then I Rolled over and pulled the covers back over my head.

Being positive is overrated.

Authentically Aurora

The Disappointment

I took up a new hobby this week: Disappointing people.

It’s rather freeing. I see now why so many people are so fucking disappointing all the time. Life is pretty easy when you’re a fucking selfish asshole who doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but yourself.

Bryan called me twice today after a month of silence. I ignored him.

No return phone call for you, asswipe. 

A friend wanted to meet up for dinner this weekend. I made reservations two weeks ago. That friend proceeded to back out. I cancelled the reservations. Now she wants to meet up after all.

No fucking way, girlfriend. I’m making you as much a priority as you’ve made me. 

I was supposed to meet a group tonight at an obscure location. The address I was given led me nowhere. I tried calling one of the guys, and his helpful guidance was, “Just keep wandering around. You’ll find it.” Guess what? I didn’t. So after half an hour of walking around outside in 95 degree heat, I went home. An hour later, I got six calls and three texts asking me to come back.

Thanks anyway, bitches. I’ve got better shit to do. 

I caught up with an old friend earlier this week. At the end of dinner, he wanted to make out in the back of his truck. I figured, why not? He’s lonely, I’m lonely, and we can just use each other, knowing that neither one of us has anything at all invested.

His level of commitment is exactly the same as every other bastard I’ve ever gone out with. The only difference is that this fucker is actually honest about the fact that he has no intention of ever caring about me.

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Leavetaking – Part II

Walking Away with Suitcase“You won’t leave until you can’t stay.”


“Hello,” Bryan answered his phone. The anger in his voice was impossible to miss.

“Hi. Are you still at work, or can you talk now?” I asked him.

His response was brusque. “I’m at home.”

“Okay,” I began. “You seem to be upset with me.”

Without preamble, the floodgates opened, and Bryan burst out, “I trusted you! I trusted you, and you broke my trust!

Taken aback, mind reeling, I tried to stay calm. “I’m sorry you feel that way–”

He cut me off. “You keep saying that word – ‘sorry’ – but I don’t think you know what it means. You keep saying you’re sorry, but then you keep doing the same things over and over. How many times have we had this conversation, Aurora?!”

I wasn’t sure exactly what conversation he meant, but based on his texts, it had to be the variations on our conversation about not sharing anything about our relationship with other people. “Bryan, if you’ll just give me a chance to explain–”

“I feel violated by you.” He shot the word at me, wounding me.

I took a deep breath. “Bryan, I hear your hurt.” I tried to acknowledge him; let him know I was hearing him. Then I went on, “When I spoke with Marcia and Andie, it was like girls at a slumber party talking about their crushes–”

“I can’t believe you went behind my back. I trusted you.”

He wasn’t going to let me get a word in edgewise to defend myself. “Bryan, if you’re ever going to be in a relationship with a woman, you need to realize that girls talk–”

“There you go deflecting again,” he interjected with a steely edge to his voice.

I paused, trying to gather my thoughts. In the meantime, Bryan spouted accusations at me, telling me about my lack of character and integrity. “I’m just now finding out about your conversation with Russ months after the fact. How many more betrayals am I going to find out about in the months to come?!”

I care deeply for Bryan, and every conversation I had was because of that care for him. He was private, and I wanted to know him more. He was closed off emotionally, and I longed to know how he really felt about me. Bryan struggled to communicate where we stood even after six months, although I now think he wasn’t trying to communicate it because he wasn’t even trying to ascertain it for himself. And he certainly didn’t communicate it to his friends or evidently want anything about our relationship shared with them.

When Bryan eventually paused for breath, I said quietly, “Bryan, I don’t feel like I’m being heard by you. I’m trying to explain myself–”

You don’t feel heard my me?! I don’t feel heard by you! How many times have we had this conversation?! First, you went to my sister; then you talked about me to Toby; then Russ…”

He continued to give full vent to his anger, and my body went into fight or flight response. I felt my hands start to shake, my face getting hot, and tears started streaming down my cheeks as I tried not to sob. I loved this man, and he was attacking me.

“Bryan, you’re making me cry,” I choked out. “You’re hurting me.”

“Like the way you hurt me when you went behind my back to all of my friends?” There was no softness; no kindness; only rage in his tone.

Something broke in me, and the tears subsided. Now there was only a deathly calm; a painfully still deadness settled into my chest.

Bryan had started another impassioned tirade, “I trusted you, and you broke my trust. I’ll never trust you again!” I noted absently that this was the first time I’d ever really heard Bryan truly passionate about anything.

It was my turn to interrupt him, and I did so with an even, formal tone. “For the sake of closure, I need to hear you say that you’ll never pursue anything here with me again. I really care about you, and I’ve been hoping you would start to pursue me again. I had hoped -” I redirected mid-sentence. “I need to hear you say that you’ll never pursue me again.”

“No,” he declared with vehemence. “I’m done. After this, I’m done,” he spat at me.

I flinched involuntarily. “Okay,” I continued with as much external calm as ever. “Well is there anything else you wanted to get out of this conversation before we hang up?”

“I never had anything I wanted to get out of this conversation to begin with,” he snarled at me, voice full of bitterness.

“Okay, then. Have a good rest of your week.”

The click I heard on the other end resounded with finality. I’m done.

Authentically Aurora