December 12, 2017 v4 p60
If we all do the same thing as everyone else, we lose our identity. Our identity is what makes us unique.
A lot of people are afraid to go against the grain. They are afraid to stick out and draw attention to themselves. I get that. There’s part of me that wishes I could just go with the flow. It would be so much easier to just fit in. But I’m not wired that way. I never have been and I don’t think I ever will be. When I did try to act like everyone else I found myself divorced, living with my parents, and at the bar more nights than not. If I wasn’t at the bar I was probably at home drinking, or in the midst of some other self-destructive habit. It wasn’t leading me down a very good path. When I finally realized that if I would spend more of my money on rent than beer I could afford an apartment with an extra bedroom for my son when my parenting time was one thing that helped me get out of that rut. Since I only had him for three nights per week that left four others that I could still be self-destructive.
My wife and I reconciled and she moved in with us, which helped control some of those behaviors even more. My life had turned from being a part-time single parent and part-time single guy to being a full-time family man. There were a lot of bad habits that I had developed over a three year period that I thought I could hide from wife. I thought I was pretty successful, but really I was just ignorant. In my ignorance I ended up creating a huge mess. Through nobody’s fault but my own I was driving my wife away, and my family apart. I thought I could continue to ask for forgiveness and keep doing what I was. All that did was drive my wife into a depression that was totally my fault. It took some pretty major events to change my perspective. My parents both passed away, she left her job, and we lost our house, all within the span of about 10 months. When the dust all settled from that I started to change.
At my last job I did a lot of the “going with the flow” stuff and didn’t really push back against my boss. I showed up every day and did my job to the best of my ability. That ended up getting me promoted into lead positions. Along with promotions comes more money, so I was never in a place to turn them down. What I didn’t realize was that because of the increase in pay the management thought that meant I could be given more responsibilities that two people could handle. As the amount of work I was expected to perform increased I started to let things slip. Although I was doing things in the same manner my manager was, she didn’t like it. If I took the same short cuts she did it was unacceptable. When I reached the point where I was averaging 65+ hours per week I started to push back. They didn’t like that. Everyone else that they tried to do this type of thing would just accept what was being forced on them and went about their day. I was trying to get the culture changed, they didn’t like that.
Ultimately I left that toxic environment because I was starting realize that if I continued I wouldn’t get anything changed and would only be stressed. After a couple of months on the hunt I found my current job. Over the last five plus years with this company I have grown more personally and professionally than I ever have. It was my first manager here that encouraged me to return to my faith. That has been the single most vital thing that has happened in my life in my professional life, in my family life, and in every other area of my life. Returning to my faith has allowed me to find peace that I had been missing throughout most of my life, probably dating back to my days in middle school. It certainly has changed how I look at things, and I would guess that if you ask my friends they would say that it has changed how I look from other people’s point of view. That has really become evident as of late.
As I am scrolling through my social media on a daily basis I’m constantly reminded of the life I used to live. I shake my head almost constantly and wonder if having a social media presence is even worth the stress. I seriously think about deactivating my accounts on a weekly basis, but then I remember how my timeline has changed. One of the features on Facebook is to see your “memories” which is just a different timeline of what you posted on that specific date over the years that you’ve had an account, I’m sure you’re familiar with it. There are two distinct differences in my Facebook history. The first one comes from anything posted in Mid-May of 2012, when I left the toxic job, and the second comes in early 2015, when I returned to my faith. There has been an even deeper change that has occurred over that last six months, but that isn’t viewable through that option. If someone were to scroll through my personal timeline they would see it.
A few weeks ago it really hit home how much different I have become than most people. I really don’t like getting into conversations with some people because I know it’s going to lead in a direction that I’m not interested in. I see all of the sexual innuendo posts on social media and in people’s conversations and I try my hardest not to get drawn into that. But as they say, old habits are hard to break. I’ve come to notice now how I’m not leading the life I want to when I get drawn into those types of conversations. It’s almost an immediate thing for me, like when a light bulb appears over a cartoon character’s head. I began to reflect on whether or not I wanted to look that much different than everyone else. It didn’t take me long to answer myself with a resounding yes. If I don’t look different than everyone else then my children won’t either. I don’t want them to head down the paths that I did. There’s no hope in that direction.
In Matthew 5:11 the disciples are told “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” If I lose some contacts or get insulted because of my faith, then that just proves that Jesus was right.