Our marriage is strong. It has always been. Even strong marriages face challenges. During my time of unemployment it surely brought tension into my home. I was frustrated on all levels. Mind you, we were not going hungry, we still had enough saving to carry us through at least mortgage and life insurance payments for five more months.
There were times I simply didn’t feel strong enough and that kind of pressure, mixed with a wife who is an eternal optimist and faith-walker was equally frustrated with my self-loathing. “You going to mope about it and keep your head down!!??” Oh snap, she has lost her marbles coming at me like that. I know my temper so it was best to remain quiet until I was able to address her approach to my state of self-deprecation and depression. I had been here before when we were engaged. I was previously unemployeed but I was single, a different place mentally and spiritually. I could conquer the world. I knew her relation to the man she married and that’s the man she wanted to see rise up. She was my cheerleader then and she was my cheerleader after marriage when joblessness hit us.
Life was indeed worth living. I knew it and I had to fight for it daily. One particular night In June I had on a good face. My daughter came home and asked how I was doing. It was one of my worse days. I had already decided I am done looking for a job after today. “Lord, I am done.” My daughter touched my hand and said. “You’re not ok. Daniel 12:12 says, “Blessed is he who waits.” Good night, love you.” She kissed me in the cheek and went to bed and I cried like a baby. Talk about child like faith. I repented for my lack of trust. There is a scripture in the Holy Bible that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”. My heart was sick and that same night I pressed on my search. It was 12:30 AM. Indeed.com – IT Support Specialist, Noble Network of Charter Schools. I applied for the position. I studied the company on YouTube and their website until 2:30 AM. It was the first week in June of 2010.
The Journey Continues…
7 years ago I was unemployeed. It was a dark place. Being the sole provider for a family is no small task. To provide for our families we make the sacrifice (choice) for our spouses to stay home and focus on child-rearing, and, as my friend TeeNat calls, domestic engineering.
I knew the layoff was coming months in advance so I prepared. I had my resume professionally revamped. I went to job fairs, employment agencies, temp agencies, I did it all. One thing I learned was that companies generally do not hire between Mid-October – February. Yet, I pressed to no avail. There is something in a man that sends shivers through him when he feels he is an inadequate provider. It’s a place of reflection and we internalize it to a detriment. Spiritually I held fast to scripture “if a man don’t work a man don’t eat”. I excluded, “the Lord will provide all my needs…”My full-time job was looking for a job.
To keep abreast of technology I offered to work for free at my place of worship and several emails went with zero response. Face to face went with, no, we are good. Hmm, I serve here, I tithe here, I minister here, and now I am rejected here. My story and my truth. It pushed me further to a place of darkness in my thoughts.
For the first time in my life I went to the public aid office and they would only provide medical coverage for my daughter. I was told I made too much money from unemployment to receive federal assistance. A system that I had been paying into from age 13 to 39 rejected me. My wife, working since age 14 also paid into this system and it rejected us. Two people that voted, paid taxes, paid into SSN, etc were being shunned by the system built on the back of the lower and middle class. A country that I fought for and served rejected me.
I saw many women and men with children who left with smiles. Not me, not us. My wife is always optimistic but not me, eternal pessimist allowing past experience to live in my present and project my future. As we left with our daughter in carry I was scared, broken, alone, bewildered, perplexed, and confused. My faith was being tested by fire and my flesh was submitting to the burn. Was life worth living…
Today is Father’s Day. It doesn’t garner the attention of Mother’s Day. Restaurants don’t sell out, theaters are not packed, and Facebook post say “Happy Father’s Day” to those single mothers that had to raise the males in the family. It can be said that many fathers have failed in their responsibility and people would often be justified. Yet, it’s always easier to celebrate negativity rather than champion excellent fathers. I thought I’d share part of the story about my biological father and what he meant to my life before his transition into eternity.
I buried my dad in 2015. I eulogized his funeral. I paid the expenses until my sister covered the cost with insurance money. He had a stroke a few before his death and that was what crushed me. He had no memory of me. It reminded me of the time I ran into him in 1996 in a Burger King and he didn’t even recognize who I was. We’d spent the last few years building a relationship. In a heated argument one day he told me he didn’t owe me an explanation for why he left. He chose to live his life the way he wanted to and that he didn’t owe anyone an apology. It hurt but those words were true. Outside of giving me life, he had nothing to do with the man I’d become, or did he? When my wife took ill it was the first time he called me almost every day, short on words, “How’s my daughter doing?” When she was well, his calls stopped. I wasn’t mad, it was his way of saying, “I care”.
Because of my Christian Faith, I am bound by scripture to honor my mother and my father. It doesn’t say honor them based on how they treated you. Equally, they can be categorized as deadbeat parents that never did anything, except, they did, they gave me life. They couldn’t handle the journey of parents and as unfortunate as that maybe they still played a role in my existence. I loved my day and honored him until the day he died. Losing him was a normal part of life, but his stroke broke me in ways I couldn’t imagine. After years of missing him, when we finally got together he lost his memory. I’m glad I got to know him. I’m glad I got to spend time with him. I’m proud to call him my dad. I honored him in life, I honored him in death. We both wore white sweat socks with dress shoes and slacks. We had similar thoughts on religious views and it was amazing to know that after years of separation that there was a ground to mend our relationship by finding commonalities one within the other.
I miss him! I wish I had another opportunity to “Dance with my Father again”.
Men, enjoy your Father’s Day. Let’ go of the past and look forward to the future. Live life, enjoy the journey, be there for your children. Raise the bar.
Happy Father’s Day.