We’ve been here in Oregon for two months now, almost two and a half. Truth be told, my husband Kyle is no closer to finding a job now than he was the day we decided to make the trek here. Oddly enough, I’m not discouraged. We’re not discouraged.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have remembered a status I posted sometime in December about getting a flat tire up in the mountains and receiving a great rescue from a British man. I’d like to share more of that story with you today along with the reason it has made such an impact on both Kyle and I.
Lets back up a bit. Kyle has wanted to get into student development at a college ever since I met him. The time he was in college and the people in residence life at that time were so influential to who he is today, it’s no wonder he has a desire to spread that type of influence to others. He is so passionate about this area and I truly believe God has given him the talents, patience, and heart needed for this work. So, every year for the last four years, I have stood by him while he has applied for job, after job, after job, at college, upon college, upon college. I supported him while he received his master’s in hopes of increasing his chances of selection. I’ve stood by while he has been interviewed countless times over the phone or on various campuses. But he always gets this answer: “You are a great candidate, and we would have chosen you, but we went in a different direction,” or “we went with someone with more experience,” or my favorite…and WORST, “you were our second choice, please try again in the future.”
After years of this, after years of seeing my husband beaten down from no, after no, I got pretty angry. Why would God place the passion for something like this in Kyle’s heart, provide him with the talents, and the desires to do this if He wasn’t providing an opportunity? Even worse is when people pass it off like it’s an easy job to get. Like he’d just be hanging out playing frisbee on campus all day, getting a free place to live. To those who feel this way: you try going to grad school full time while working a full time job, then spending hours each day after work filling out applications, going through rounds of interviews, traveling to different campuses, and discussing the issues like racism, homosexuality, future careers, academics, spirituality, and all the other issues 18-23 year olds wrestle with as they define who they are. You tell me how much you’d be willing to give up buying a house for your family to live in a tiny apartment attached to a dorm so you are accessible 24/7 to meet the needs of those you serve. You tell me how easy it would be to live on a small salary while working around the clock. You tell me how easy it would be disciple hundreds of students at one of their most formative times in life. You tell me then how it’s all frisbee and free t-shirts, and some easy gig.
Luckily, through it all, Kyle was working. He was developing his skill base, gaining world experience outside of the college bubble, and all the while continuing to dream about how this experience would further aid him to be better at his dream job. I watched as my husband struggled through working with children and adolescents with mental illness, navigating his way through helping them succeed in school, at home, and through their time on probation. We are so thankful for these jobs, they allowed me to stay home with our son, but it was hard. I watched as day after day, he would come home, emotionally exhausted from seeing and hearing devastating things, and drained because he wasn’t doing what he should be.
As time passed, I grew increasingly upset and impatient as to why he couldn’t get his foot in the door. I would watch as friends and acquaintances received jobs at colleges with absolutely no prior experience, or simply working there because it was there–not because it was something they were passionate about. All these things are fine, and a job is a job, but it’s hard to see when someone you love would give his right arm to be sitting where they were.
Time continued to pass, jobs continued to be filled, and we decided a change was necessary. We had always planned to move, we just thought a college would take us there. But, God had other plans, so we finally came around to the pushes He was giving us, and we made our way out to Oregon. And it has been so good.
We knew coming here and getting a fresh start would be great, but I was still feeling seeds of doubt regarding jobs, and let me tell you, I’ve had some harsh words with God about it. However, just as those seeds started to grow, our family decided to take a drive up into the mountains. It was in the 40’s that day, and being from Indiana, we thought this was a pretty awesomely warm winter day. So, off we went to explore.
We quickly realized no one goes into the mountains in December. Once we began the climb, we were the only car for miles. We passed a few houses here and there, but eventually it was just us and the beautiful Oregon nature. Obviously, it was getting colder the higher we climbed. Eventually we pulled over and walked for a bit, I snapped some photos, and then we decided we better go, since no trails were open and we couldn’t go any further due to the massive amounts of fallen rock in the road.
We had Judah with us, obviously, and normally we’re pretty well-prepared for outings with our toddler. But that day, we weren’t…and I don’t know why. I somehow didn’t pack any diapers, something that is always a first to travel with us. I also failed to grab an extra blanket for him, or anything to drink. Again, I have no idea why.
We began our decent down to head home and we hit one of those fallen rocks. Then we saw a light on our dashboard reading, “low tire pressure.” Kyle pulled over and listened and heard that pssssssssssssst sound of the air steadily leaving and our tire going flat. At the time, we were on a gravel road, so we decided to try and at least reach the pavement. And we did. I think we made it about five feet onto the pavement before we were forced to stop due to hearing our hubcap scraping the earth.
Kyle had never changed a tire before and I had no idea what to do, so I was of no help. There we were, halfway down a mountain, flat tire, cold winter day quickly turning to night, and a very underprepared family. Kyle got out the spare and jack and began working. He couldn’t quite get the jack in place, and the car thudded down. At that moment, we knew we needed help. We had no cell service, so I agreed to jog ahead with Judah in the stroller to try and knock on one of the doors of the houses we had passed a few miles earlier (I use the term jog loosely. I don’t think I’ve jogged for two years). I started on our trek, and then heard Kyle calling after me. He decided to come too because he wasn’t comfortable sending his wife and son away in the mountains alone. Understandable. As the sun steadily lowered, we began to stress more and more.
Then, out of the blue, we heard a car. Coming down from somewhere way up in the mountain was this jeep. We flagged it down and asked for help. And that’s how we met Mick. He happily agreed to help us, in his charming British accent, and said he just happened to be coming down that way to visit a friend, so he was in no hurry. Mick had our tire changed and pointed us in the direction of the nearest repair place within 20 minutes.
Kyle and I just looked at each other, baffled at how a situation that could have been seriously devastating, turned out to be a quick fix. We went through all the what-ifs together on our drive back into town. What if we didn’t make it to the pavement? What if we had stayed by the car for even just a minute longer? What if Mick hadn’t come?
It was clear. God was there. And we needed to see it. I needed to see it. I needed that flat tire more than anything, I just didn’t know it. Through our talk on the drive back, we realized that God has his hand in our lives. He knows where we need to be, He knows what jobs we’ll hold, He knows. Our job is to follow His direction, take His lead, and let Him intervene when our tires get flat.
So, Kyle is still searching, and his passion for college work is still stirring. And he’s going to keep trying. And you bet I’m still going to be proudly standing next to him the whole time.