I finally know what I want to do with my [work] life

Lately in my church we’ve been doing a series called “Trusting God with…” and one thing I’ve started wrestling with in regards to this series is work.
I love what I do, and yet I have 3 things on my plate as to what I want to with my work life:
1) Youth ministry
2) Social services, working with those who live with mental illness
3) I’m not sure what the job title would be, but I like what The Marin Foundation does, so something along the lines of building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

But I have made peace and I’m reading to move forward into…*drum roll* 🙂

I’m going to continue on in Social Services, working with individuals who have mental illnesses.
I’ve crossed the threshold of 2 years doing just that, and I like it, but the issue I have is that Illinois is ranked near the bottom (48 out of 51) when it comes to supporting those who need Social Services and funding (pay-wise) those who work jobs in Social Services, but still I am going to give IL a little more time and here’s why.

My annual review will be coming up soon and I’m putting together a proposal as to how my agency can return to a more client-centric approach in how they do things. I’m also putting together a book, a self-help book on mental illness and yet I realize that the general population will benefit from learning what I have learned, that (hopefully) the stigma of individuals living with mental illness will be decreased.

But despite all that, if I’m not able to prove my worth in this manner among other things, I’m starting to look elsewhere. I’m looking back to Memphis TN and see what’s available in this field that has proven to be the most stressful, most tiring, most emotionally jarring job I’ve ever had…but it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done job-wise. People are people, and this is how I want to invest my work life.

Part of my game plan does include going back to school, Masters in Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling. So maybe Illinois is where I’ll be, but then again Memphis appeals to me as well for many a reason. I fell in love with the people and that city when I was on vacation, good old “southern hospitality” is what I experienced wherever I went. Plus now that there’s a branch of The Marin Foundation being run by Jimmy Cornfoot I’ll still be able to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Making peace with my past

“If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it” ~ Richard Rohr

It hasn’t been too long now that I have made peace with a part of my past.

It hasn’t been that long that out of anxiety, out of not wanting to get past it, not wanting to move forward in my life that I still dreamt and dwelt upon a future that’s never going to happen. A future with my ex-fiancee (she has a name, I address her as such in prayer, but only there I speak her name out loud) and her sons.

My pastor Scott has shared with me some of his story, and how some things he had issues with had come to a resolution to a point where he pronounced peace and blessing over that closed chapter in his life. Now I hold on to a lot; I could say some of it stems from seeing parents who don’t resolve much, and if anything the enmity between them have made a rift ever-widening. Seeing and hearing a mother who is good at forgiving but not forgetting to the point where areas of contention past are brought to light in the form of verbal ammo. I grew up hearing 1 Peter 4:8 when it says that “love covers over a multitude of sins” but I have never seen it lived out in my family life.

So with that sociological tale of woe in my life, what was I to expect when it came to holding down a healthy relationship (at that time, nowadays I have a better idea, thanks to healthy people in healthier relationships)? Love is a verb, it needs to be acted on daily and even secondly, but I in my younger years knew how to love…but then I switched on cruise control and moved forward but with no work on my part. I failed at loving my best friend, and I paid for it by our relationship ending.

I probably have pinned more blame on her for it coming to an end. It sometimes can seem like the one calling it quits is the one to blame, I mean c’mon, if you’re willing to get out and not fight for love’s sake then you sir/ma’am are the loser…perhaps I had this kind of mentality at one time, but it didn’t make it any easier.

I didn’t rebound after that relationship into another relationship for nearly 3 to 6 months later. It wasn’t healthy and it was over quickly. I was in another relationship since that relationship, and it was none the more healthier; when you get wrapped up in dopamine and oxytocin, sometimes it is what it is, and for me that doesn’t equate to stability and the bedrock of a good relationship. In the moment it feels good (it really should) but it doesn’t feel right, at least, not to me.

So with 3 relationships failed in my life’s rear view mirror, some kind of resolution needed to take place; either I could squirrel away my emotions and what I feel and what I think and stay there, or I could shake off my emotional baggage, forgive myself and forgive my ex-fiancee and get here. I chose the latter, and let me tell you, it is freeing! 🙂

Unless you’ve gotten to this point in your life having gone through a similar if not the same experience, freedom doesn’t seem attainable. Your mind wanders, you remember and reminisce healthier moments in a particular relationship and dwell there. But if you’re dwelling there you are not in the present, you are not here, and it sucks to be caught in flux like that because I think at times people want to be both there and here but you really can’t, you’re a whole person in either environment but you can’t be healthily divided in both.

Here I am, broken and healing man, typing away to the tunes of Steely Dan whilst drinking some black Columbian coffee and eating some pumpkin bread. That’s one thing I have been doing to get here, exercises of mindfulness per what I am learning in DBT. Here I am broken and healing man who is able to pronounce blessing on this part of my story, here I sit smiling at making peace with my past. It needed to be done, I am glad that time is now.

~Nathanael~

11/30 – Getting my undergrad in Psychology…7 years later

I started my undergrad career in 2003, and and didn’t wrap up till 2010, it was a long and arduous journey but I made it. 🙂

I started off my college career at a community college the autumn after I graduated high school, I kinda had my mind made up in thinking that I would pick up as many gen-eds in 2 years as I could and then transfer out to a school in the area that had an undergrad program in Youth Ministry and finish up in 2007 or in the spring of 2008.

But…life and other things got in the way…

I did pull off the first 2 years without nary a hitch, but when I transferred over I didn’t stay in the youth ministry program for long, and so I was forced with starting over to square one or picking up an undergrad in Biblical Studies or Psychology, I decided to go with the latter.

It was also at this time of switching majors that my parents separated (blow #1) and then my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (blow #2) and then my father decided he was going to bail on her (blow #3) to which I stepped up to the plate to be my mom’s primary caregiver, which meant I took a year off of school.

Other issues arose, primarily financial difficulties which meant I didn’t jump back in the saddle of school as quickly as I got out. I also for a while had a hard time managing my time, and there was a stretch where I was taking on 19 credits in one semester while working a 29+ work week…for those of you had to balance both full time employment and full time being a student, my hat’s off to you, I didn’t do well doing both at the same time despite not working a full time job.

But things picked up, I was able to get back on track, to manage my time properly and take a job (not so much a better job than the one I had before, but there weren’t too many demands like the other job had) and in 2010 I graduated 7 years later.

***

I realize that there were many things I could have avoided which would have shortened my stint as an undergrad student, but some things required me stepping up where others just backed down. It was stressful and had I known what I know now I probably would have been in a Psychology undergrad program and then picked up a Masters in Divinity at a later time, but it is what it is and I’m glad that my undergrad days are done. I didn’t make a lot of friends in college but the few that I made are very good ones, I look forward to attending the wedding of one of my best college friends this summer, it should be a lot of fun!

All in all I can’t change my past, I only can change now and the future, and things look good! 🙂 7 years to finish an undergrad is a lengthy time, but I made it and I have a sense of accomplishment every time I look at my diploma.

~Nathanael~

8/31 – What has led me to where I am now

What has led me to where I am now

This is quite the loaded question but I’m willing to give it a shot…

I am a follower of Christ based upon the fact that I chose to my faith and trust in who Jesus is and what he did. My walk with him hasn’t been a lot of mountaintop experiences, but I’m okay with that, I am comfortable with being in the valley in the midst of other people who are in the valley which puts me in a good place in building relationships because there isn’t a sense of elitism, a me-looking-down-at-them perspective. If God is on the side of the underdogs, the oppressed, the marginalized, the down-and-out, the castaways, the proverbial “least of these” I am glad to walk with them and share in their good times as well as bad.

I am the oldest son of an oldest son of an oldest son of an oldest son of an only son…Fate? Coincidence? I don’t know, but I do wish there was some form of a birth rite to honor this position put upon me, but since there isn’t one I will have to make one for my eldest son when I get there in life.

I work with people in the Behavior Health field, which I got this job due to my connections, my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a little bit of previous experience.

I enjoy photography, which stemmed from using a Polaroid camera b.i.t.d (back in the day) and stinky disposable cameras. For a while it was my sister who was the photographer, but I made quantum leaps once everything pretty much went digital.

I enjoy the great outdoors more than the ‘great’ indoors because I spent a lot of time camping in Wisconsin when I was younger, because I feel God’s presence in a grove of trees or on a beach with the waves crashing upon the shore.

I’m involved in youth ministry because 10 years ago I felt the call to go into youth ministry, and for the past 9 years I have been working in different churches and parachurch forms of youth ministry. I don’t know where I’ll end up eventually, but I pray and feel the tug to head out to Southern California and work with high school students. Any takers? 😉 Seriously tho, I do need to network and make contacts with churches out there.

I’m into cars too much (Auto addict, yeah…maybe I am) because some of them are fast, some of them look great, and some have best of both worlds going for them. I have a lot of car books and memories, my favorite of the latter have been the following: 1) Liking a guy’s brand new British Racing Green Jaguar XJ6 back in 1988, my earliest car memory 2) Getting some track time in an Audi/BMW/Lexus, I want more track time, it’s very fun and most of the time fast! 3) Being invited to check out the then new Bugatti Veyron in Chicago with my bro… I like cars and hope to have something fun and track capable in the future.

I choose to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I wrote about it here.

I think that covers most of who I am, if needed be I will edit this post.

~Nathanael~