Disappointing Everyone but God   16 comments

It took years for me to accept my own ostrich-ness without embarrassment, recognizing and not running away from the disappointment others held towards me.  I was sharply reminded of this at my dad’s funeral as I re-connected with acquaintances from long ago, the many who stood in line to offer me their condolences and politely inquire: “Where do you live now?” and “What do you do there?”

The simple answer is, “I work at Home Depot.”  There is nothing simple about that response.  It is freighted with cultural and religious baggage, and I immediately saw it in their faces when I answered, sudden flickers of questions and doubts tugging at their cheeks and blinking their eyelids. The middle-aged son of a college president working a minimum-wage job?  Should they leave it alone and move on or ask me for clarification… and how could they do that circumspectly?  Since I wasn’t sitting down with them for coffee, I started adjusting my answer to relieve their discomfort.

I understand their consternation.  When I started working at Home Depot two years ago it took me a couple months of building courage to share the news on Facebook.  As a culture, when we hear of a college-educated person in mid-career working an entry level job, we feel sure there is a tragic story behind this mishap.  Selling hammers is one step above homelessness.  I was going to say one step above unemployment, but actually an unemployed professor ranks far above a working stiff–he hasn’t given up on himself yet.

Of course the heavy cultural implications are double-weighted with the religious ones.  It is true that Jesus himself worked with hammers and saws, but that was in his youth, just an apprenticeship for what really mattered, we think.  The highest accolades in my family and alma mater go to missionaries, secondarily to pastors, thirdly to those in non-profit work, but instead of working my way up that ladder, I slipped down it, one rung at a time.  Oddly enough, my soul was gaining depth and strength and wisdom with each lower step.

It seems the Kingdom of God is much less predictable and straightforward than I assumed most of my life.  I guess that is why we walk by faith.


Posted June 11, 2016 by janathangrace in Personal, Uncategorized

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16 responses to “Disappointing Everyone but God

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  1. The title of this speaks profoundly to me as does the content of this post.

  2. You got that right — His Kingdom is much less predictable and straightforward than I imagined too! And the older we are, the more . . . interesting the curves of His grace. Thank you for reminding readers we are all performing for His pleasure, and not our own — real easy too forget this!

  3. The church thinks so much like the world in a lot of ways. Dare I say “I am proud of you”? I have always found God is more interesting in “changing me” than He is in making me significant! Even though that’s what I want and think I need! BOTTOM LINE….I want my ego stroked….women have them too! Keep trusting Jesus…..that’s the real deal in life….keeping the faith!

  4. I like the way you make me think. I have admired your Dad for three plus decades. I considered him a mentor. As a guest in your parents home when your Dad was a full-time caregiver, Deborah and I saw first hand what real love looks like. I have never forgotten that visit. No one is perfect, but what I saw that day was true love on display when no one was “watching”.

  5. Thank you for this post! I experience something similar when people ask me how many people attend my small church. This is one reason I avoid aluminum gatherings and other such occasions. Sadly, Christians – I – forget the biblical paradox of losing to gain or dying to live.

  6. Janathan Grace, I am new to your blog. I just want to say thank you for your honesty and transparency. Your blogs are opening up new ways of thinking for me as well as reinforcing some paths I have started walking. I look forward to see where God takes me on this journey of being transparent with myself and allowing God to enter the areas I don´t even enter. May His grace win in all areas! Thank you for your powerful ministry to many through this blog.

    • Denise, welcome! My desire from the start was to find like-minded people who could use this space as a safe spot to share and interact honestly and vulnerably. Please come back and share with us your journey wherever it may take you. It is a difficult journey that is made much harder without the support of others.

  7. Thank you for this post. The same expectations are imposed on stay-at-home moms. I now have adult children, but am still not working because now I am disabled… they don’t like that answer to these questions either!

    • Judy, I hope you find support and understanding as you fight off the shame that others direct your way. You are deeply loved and valued just as you are by the only One who knows you completely.

  8. You don’t disappoint me brother Janathan. In fact I envy you. I love hammers and saws and the smell of fresh lumber and sawdust and especially power tools (more POWER circa Tim Taylor and Home Improvement). And while you may have slipped down the ladder, I fell completely of of it. And while there are still (after 14 years) those who would like to never allow me to step back on it, there is a Redeemer who lives and loves to restore the years the locust have eaten. Grace and Peace my friend.

    • Ed, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Life is full of harshness and pain, often coming from religious folks. May you find the grace to move forward in your own journey of redemption.

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