It’s been almost two weeks since the wheels last fell off. In no way am I “over it.” I continue to mourn the sudden, unexpected, and undeserved loss of my job, my community, my fellowship, and my last seven year’s work at the university. I miss it terribly. And I’m still anxious about my future.
At the same time, I am coping. I have moved on from waking every morning uncontrollably sobbing to waking up each morning wondering what I will do, what my future will look like, struggling to find meaning in it all. I’m not a religious person (been there, done that). I don’t acquiesce to “it’s God’s will.” And yet, I do concede the possibility that there is something greater, some force beyond our comprehension, a bigger picture if you will. I think of it as a universal energy that binds us all together, and that creates and recreates paths for us, that simultaneously gives us free will even as it guides us toward a destiny. I know. It’s a haughty way of saying maybe some good will come from all this after all, right?
I had a job interview last week. It was through a placement agency. I wasn’t excited about it. Oh, the job is a good one, and I would love to have it. But fresh off of my humiliating ejection from the university, I just didn’t know if I could bring myself to sit in front of another human being and admit the sins of my past. Nonetheless, I went. The first thing the woman did was to hand me a form authorizing a background check and tell me if selected, I they would do a criminal background check. My heart sank. I was so tempted to leave the form on the table and just walk out. But I didn’t. I filled out the form and went back for the interview.
The questions started out innocuous enough. Tell me about this job, tell me about that job, tell me about your experience. But then she asked me to tell her about my current situation. I took a deep breath, looked her in the eye, and admitted that I would not pass a background check. I told her the story of the university, of my attempt to be honest and upfront, and of my devastating rejection six weeks into the job. I told her what type of offense it was, and when it occurred. I steeled myself for the sour expression, the piercing evil eye, the slight shake of a disapproving head—all the reactions I’ve come to expect at my shameful confession. Instead, she told me that this particular employer only wanted a clean background (no felony, no violent misdemeanor) going back seven years. Seven years! My offense is almost 15 years old. Could I pass a background check going back seven years? Of course I can! She barely batted an eye as she told me she would send my resume to the company. I looked for any sign of dismissal, and if it was there, it was so subtle that I could not detect it. And trust me, I’m pretty good at detecting rejection. (Wait…that doesn’t sound like a good thing, does it? I should have to think on that.)
What I decided as I pondered this experience is that maybe I have to reconsider my wholesale condemnation of the “ride it ‘til the wheels fall off” philosophy. Sure, it hurts to tumble to the ground, reeling in humiliation, mourning the loss every time the wheels come flying off. But it’s been said, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger,” and I have yet to die from the wheels falling off. (Could happen, I suppose.) So what if I take a job and then get terminated because of my background? At least I will have worked and made some money. At least I will have had some experience. At least I will have tried.
I guess as long as I’m me, I will worry about the wheels falling off. My daughter calls it pessimism. I just call it realism. But I’m not going to let fear keep me from trying. I go on because I must. I must, because I go on.