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I still remember the time like it was a ‘flashbulb memory’…
Alone, around 3:30 AM, I sat in the office inside the underground apartment that I had called home for nearly six months. I didn’t have a job, and throughout the night to combat the lacking of sleepiness (because I was doing nothing with my life), I would fill out teaching applications.
I lost count at 92 applications. My wife had already given up on me teaching, I had started to work at Subway, and every-so-often I would go and substitute teach at a local school. I’d hear teachers comment on openings, wondering if I was applying, and it was the same dog-and-pony trick every week.
It wears on an individual to want to teach, but to never be qualified for a school. By qualified I mean that I didn’t know the right people. I’d given up on coaching, my own room, stability, all of it…and that was before the divorce.
I only paint this rather strange picture, because five years later in my living room I clicked “submit” all over again. Now, Facebook is an IPO, Twitter exists, and my phone can easily replace a desktop computer. Even stranger, I didn’t just send in an application off a whim, I was ‘encouraged’ by individuals at school today to follow the protocol and submit an application.
Yes, you read that correctly, after two and a half years I just submitted an official application to teach in the school I’ve been in and out of for the past several semesters.
I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m so excited.
Praying that this one will be right…
Ever have a scar that begins to ache (weather change, too cold, etc…)?
Tonight I was digitally encouraged by Darco to begin a daily devotion (seven days) on marriage and commitment.
“No big deal”, I thought as I accessed the piece. First came scripture talking about one man and one woman equalling one flesh together.
“I got this”, I thought as I cruised through the plan. I accidentally got our of the application on my phone, so without thought I started digging for the plan again. When I had landed on the right page I saw a plan above the one I was working on…
Marriage: Infidelity Crisis
That’s all it took.
I logged out as fast as I could.
My mind was smacked with memories and moments from four years ago, nearly to the date when my wife-at-the-time attempted to go to marital counseling without informing me. I still remember the shaking legs, elevated heartbeat, wanting to be at my parents house while realizing I was trapped at her family’s house. I remember my brain being fuzzy, ears ringing, and a lump in my throat.
All of that, rushing back, from a stupid title.
My scars still ache.
I have thirty minutes on the clock.
Grab my pants, where’s the shirt for today? Socks? Got ’em.
Start the shower, will the water warm up any faster?
Wake up, let’s do this.
Don’t stand under the water, you’ll waste time.
Get dry. Remember pants and shirt on first, socks last, otherwise you’ll be tempted to stay seated on the bed.
Contacts? Those’ll be last, let’s get the water boiling. 5 tablespoons of coffee, cup is clean.
That cat has got to stop messing with my shoe strings while I’m trying to tie them.
Pour the water, set the timer for six minutes. Do I have my lunch ready? Where’s the bowl for breakfast?
Thank goodness that granola was made.
Grab the coat. Shut off the bedroom light. Section one cleared.
Contacts in. Shut the bathroom light. Section two cleared.
Coffee is ready. We need more sugar. Is that almond milk still good?
Cereal? Yep, with coffee.
House lights are turned off. Section three cleared.
Almost word-for-word these are the thoughts that stream through my mind Monday through Friday each week. It’s quite literally non-stop fun waking up and getting ready without running into any problems. That being said, by the time it is all said and done, Saturday is the first time that I decide to try to breathe. I’ll claim the card of just getting older, but this past week absolutely exhausted me and pushed me to a level of stress that I hadn’t witnessed in some time. It was a blend of work related stuff, and stuff outside of work. I added to my load this week by starting a college course through the University of Phoenix. It’s my first class that could be counted as a Master’s level class, but so far it hasn’t proven to be much more than reading and discussing theories of classroom organization. That shouldn’t come as much of a shock, but I’m still happy that I’m able to take the class (and thanks to Darco’s job, we were able to pay for it upfront in full). The passing completion of that class will result in my teaching license being reinstated, something that I can wholeheartedly say I’m dying to achieve. Even without an actual classroom, I feel so inadequate roaming the halls of the school being asked by students if I’m something that I’m not. The downside of course is the additional amount of time being consumed to ensure that I do complete the class…correctly.
From there, there’s an added element of my body. While I am losing weight (again), my legs aren’t doing everything that I’d like them to be doing. Most notably problems in my knees and still in my Achilles. I’m praying for an opportunity to try a spine and joint center in the city that specializes in working with runners. If it’s not my shoes that are causing this, I’ll be very curious as to what they end up finding. I’m still running and training, but my workload on my feet is very, very light. It’s not worth making problems worse just because I’m stubborn.
Outside of work and running is church (not always in that order). Darco and I continue to spend time at a ‘home church’ on Thursday nights, soon to be changing to Sunday nights, and personally it isn’t easy. There are so many things I’ve developed horrible habits of being uncomfortable with and they’re all coming out at once. I’m not keen on physical touch, aside from Darco, from anyone. I still struggle working with very small children, and pregnancy still makes me extremely uncomfortable. This is just honesty coming out, not acknowledging that any of it is necessarily bad. I suppose the reality is that I need to grow up and be like everyone else. Eventually I have to accept the idea of the same job for 20+ years, I have to accept the average family size, the mortgages, and everything that comes along with it. Truthfully, I’m still denying it as if it were some form of plague. Perhaps it’s just the sinful nature of my soul, but I still have zero desire to follow through with all this notions that people point out as joyful and wonderful. I suppose I’m still selfish, but there isn’t even a stirring in my soul of, “Oh, this will be so fun.” I’m still thinking of running, work, and honestly…just being married.
Fear. I’ve been trying to fully comprehend and handle fear. Understand the death, destruction, second coming, and everything in between doesn’t bother me. There really is very little out there in this world that I fear. I’ve just about failed at everything I’ve been a part of, so the world isn’t nearly as scary now. With that said, there’s still one thing that burns in my heart as an absolute terror. I’m terrified that my wife will leave me. I’m scared that one disagreement, one argument, one forgotten date, failed objective (cooking, cleaning, etc…) will result in her packing up and never returning. Does Darco ever act like that? Absolutely not, but when dealing with stress from the week, it just eats at me. I think back to false promises, storybook thoughts, and tragic endings. My mind reverts back to a time of chaos and isolation. Thunderstorms, softball, and crying myself to sleep. I still remember it all like a permanent scar. Darco knows this, and she always reminds me that it’ll never happen. Frankly, I don’t see how people can be divorced, be left, and then just play it off as if nothing tragic happened in their life. It’s my fear, my terror, it’s what keeps me up at night. If I’m not perfect, if I don’t fix every problem, my wife will leave me. If I screw up the financials and miss a bill, my wife will leave me. If I get onto her about sleeping too long, or something along those lines, my wife will leave me. I’ve concluded, through the stupidity in my head, that this will forever be the curse that I’ll have to live with.
There’s a lot on my plate in the mornings, several thoughts streaming through my mind. The weeks are long, but most of the time they’re fun, I just wish I was a better person.
I blame the depressing winter weather…
Heading home from dinner tonight I started thinking back to years past. Way into the years that had passed. I started to think about missed opportunities, failed acquaintances, and let downs. I feel guilty for my past. So many times opportunities were given to make the right move, and time and time again…I missed.
In several of those instances it came back to relationships. I don’t know how Darco does it, I really don’t, because the majority of the major mishaps in my life have originated from relationships. Really, I struggle with people. I place so many on altars of praise that I completely miss the point of why praise even exists. I take responsibility for damaging my first love by being a horrified, shallow example of a God-less Christian in the end. The same holds true to my first, second, and third relationship in college. Truly, I was a guy that should have never dated. I started off as a politician; smooth, charming, and kind. In the end, I was shallow, selfish, and manipulative. Can I be brutally honest? It’s been three going on four years since the divorce, and while I 100% am against divorce, I also 100% recognize and don’t blame my ex-wife for leaving. I failed that marriage because I failed to protect my heart.
Perhaps all of this is what makes Darco that much more amazing. She knows all of it, she knows the details of my failures, the things I will be judged for, and still loves me.
She’s definitely more Christ-like than she realizes.
If I (2015) went back in time, and I found my former self (circa 2001); I’m relatively sure this would be the transcript of the dialogue between the two of us:
2015: Life is going to be interesting for you, that’s the best that I can say for certain. It’s not going to be easy, in fact this moment in life is about the easiest you’re going to have it.
2001: Why does everything change?
2015: Because of the choices that we make. Let me break it down for you. You’re going to be an awful athlete, and your work ethic through high school is going to be a joke. You’ll blow off all your classes and never apply yourself, except in the creative writing class you’ll take your senior year. You’ll go into an insane amount of debt by going into the wrong college, the same one that’ll reject you the first time you apply. You’ll struggle to find yourself in college, go through a mix of poor relationships, and end up making some horrible, life changing decisions right after college. That doesn’t even address how the work field is going to treat you.
2001: Work field? Like what kind of job I’ll have?
2015: Yes. Be prepared to spend over a decade with a company known as Subway. You’ll do everything in the store, and will be in two primary stores before getting moved into a corporate position.
2001: Corporate? That doesn’t sound so bad.
2015: It isn’t, until you try to cheat the system, get caught, and are asked to resign from your position.
2001: I do that? Ouch…
2015: You will create problems for teachers, headaches for school board members, and will be reprimanded by administration before you leave high school. You’ll attempt to have a college board member removed, and you’ll be fired for the athletic department…as a work study student. You’ll argue with theologians, and will even walk away from the very church you attend now. Your stubbornness will lead to pointless arguments, and eventually even a horrific divorce.
2001: I get divorced!?!?!
2015: Your relationship timeline is about as fragmented as the Richter Scale in California. You’ll officially date one person in high school, and unofficially date one person in high school. You’ll mutually depart with one, and you’ll walk away from another. In college you’ll chase after student-athletes, only to have your immaturity cost you, your first serious relationship. The second relationship in college will be reckless and free, but you’ll be cheated on and left because “you’re too nice, and deserve better”. The third relationship will nearly end you. It’ll involve someone who becomes a teacher, a family deeply rooted in the Southern Baptist community of the state, failed vows, and a marriage that dissolves after a year. You will lose everything, you will go hungry, and you will cry yourself to sleep at the ripe age of 24. Your parents will bail you out of the mess you’ve made, and you’ll live at home for a while.
2001: Does it ever get better from that point? Relationship-wise?
2015: You’ll forever have a horrible scar from the Church. You’ll witness a pastor condemn you for your action and approve your ex-wife’s wishes for the divorce. You will lose faith in the Church, but for as much hatred that you’ll build for the organization, you’ll also refuse to give into the temptation to give up on God. Why this happens, I’m still unsure to this day, but you won’t lose complete faith. You will meet a girl at Starbucks, one that’ll be built in the city north of here shortly, and in a very short amount of time you’ll help lead her to become a Christian, you’ll start dating upon your return from a trip in Guatemala, and you’ll get married nearly a year later. She’s from the city north of here, has very, very little to her name, and I caution you to be very careful with her…whether she realizes it, or not, she’s extremely fragile. Treat her with care because she will also quickly because your best friend, and you two will be inseparable. She will accept all of your awful flaws, and she’ll expect you to do the same. Do. The. Same.
2001: Was she an athlete?
2015: No, and neither are you. You’ll fail in every form of athletics, and you won’t stop growing until you’re a sophomore in college. You’ll gain the “Freshmen 15″, and you’ll lose it. Gain it, lose it. This cycle will go on about five times in your life. Your heart will be broken realizing that you will not be like your mother, or any of your relatives. You won’t succeed at basketball or football. In fact, you’ll be the waterboy the next three years in high school for football. You’ll painfully dislocate your shoulder playing basketball, and you’ll only be on varsity your senior year because…well…you’re a senior. You’ll hold the honorable title of being the only runner in school history not to letter on the track team. You’ll start doing sprints, but you’ll end high school running the 3200 meter. Good luck with that. You’ll get more serious in college in the gym, but that’s just because you’re bitter towards the people that laughed at you in high school and in college. You’ll want to “show them”, but the truth is…no one really cares about what you’re doing at that point in your life. You will start to dabble with running though…running for fun that is.
2001: Why would I ever consider that?
2015: Because you’ll always have stress issues, so much so that you’ll get sick from the stress. People around you will turn to smoking, drinking, tanning, and other vices to cope with their own stress. Out of fear for your health, and how a church-goer would view you, you decide to run as a stress relief. The interesting reality is that you’ll start to love it, especially after the divorce. In the early fall of 2011 you’ll run a mile, on the road, with a time that makes no sense to any human. Especially one like you, but it’ll be your motivation to push the envelope of what’s impossible.
2001: Will I be a tornado chaser?
2015: No. The math required to process to get into a school of meteorology will be enough that you won’t even try. You’ll settle for becoming a international missionary after high school, that’s what you’ll tell everyone and you’ll even enter the program to do so in college. You’ll last one week before you quit that major. You’ll try physical therapy and sports management, both of them you’ll leave just as quickly. Finally, your advisor will inquire upon your decision for your degree. You’ll choose politics, and then you’ll decide to get another degree in education.
2001: I become a teacher! No.
2015: Not immediately. You’ll cruise through 90 applications of hearing, “No”, and you’ll give up for a few years. You’ll substitute teach to make the monthly rent in some cases, but you’ll work at Subway (mentioned above), and also for an investment firm…where you’ll learn that car-buying is evil. You’ll even try to make your own business, a women’s soccer team.
2001: Women’s soccer? I’m an idiot. There’s no market for that around here.
2015: Eventually there will be, but after one season…you’ll fail. Financially the business will be a disaster, and you’ll walk away and hide in shame. It’ll add financial stress to you and your wife, and she’ll pray for you to get away from it. After that’s over, you’ll be fired from the investmet firm. This means you’ll take a huge paycut, and you’ll default on a student loan. Your credit score will be trashed along the way. You’ll walk away from soccer, and in all likelihood will never return. By way of desperation for income, you’ll head back into substitute teaching. This could come as a shock to you, but you’ll wind up falling in love with a middle school inside the city. You’ll be there off-and-on for two years, dealing with some students that have rough lives, and you’ll love them all. It’s strange to understand now, but there will be something about them that’ll make you never want to give up on them. In a very strange, God-kind-of-way, you’ll wind up being hired by that district to work in that middle school’s special education department. Again, though it sounds strange, you’ll come to love every moment that you have in that school. Your teaching license will expire, and you’ll dream of renewing it so that one day you’ll have your own classroom.
2001: Well, sounds like life isn’t the easiest after this point. I’m right thinking that, yes?
2015: Yes, you’ll also witness disasters, death, and some very hard personal times.
2001: So, what am I suppose to take from this? I thought people from the future brought good news about all the accomplishments you wind up finishing with, and how everything turns out in a perfect manner…
2015: Life here is anything but perfect. Between now and my time you’ll see gas prices rise to near $4.00 a gallon here, over $5.00 in California and elsewhere. The world is anything but perfect. You’re going into so naive though that you have no clue. I’ll make this clear, on several occasions you’ll lose everything and you’ll fail at everything. You will even steal food from a hotel to eat while traveling. Failure will be a teacher for you, and humility will be its aid. However, I will add this, you will overcome these hardships and you will watch God do things that no one will ever be able to comprehend and understand. Where you fail in this world, you will succeed in life beyond it.
2001: Last question…how do you remember so much of this?
2015: In 2011 you…I…started a website.
What gets you around the track? To lift the weights? The go the distance?
Not just the physical food context, but the mental drive to overcome the shortcomings that our mind places before us.
What is your fuel?
I try to envision the future, I try to dream of the impossible, and keep my feet moving one step at a time. However, eventually I grow tired and I begin to reach for hidden cheats, the known pieces of life that can drive anyone beyond the pain threshold.
Anger, bitterness, hate.
Using negativity to fuel the drive to overcome will merely place your name among those who have failed to ascend above God, Himself.
I still hate. I’ve covered it up, masked it the best I could, but it still sits there. Knowing that I’ll explore that dark world when the miles begin to add. Broken promises, bad relationships, failed marriages, and manipulated moments…I’m still a broken man that struggles with hatred. It’s not just the context of being frustrated, it’s the dark area of the soul where you swear by things unknown that you will rise over those who ridiculed, yelled, and walked away.
Only God could accept a man still struggling with hatred. Only God would allow a man to run, knowing each mile he’ll have the option of fuel.
Will destiny, faith, and humility ever guide my way? Am I too broken to get past what’s been destroyed? Will the hatred ever go away?
I don’t know, I really don’t. Darco knows my demons, and demonstrates patience each time they’re brought up. I can only pray that this is an assistant coach training an athlete to become self disciplined in the soul, as he is to be on the track.