Point to Ponder:
Do you worry and pray?
As I mentioned two weeks ago in the journal Keep It Simple, my husband is a basketball coach. For seventeen years he was employed by the University of Texas as an assistant men’s basketball coach. Last Sunday UT made the decision to end the Rick Barnes era and begin a new one, so currently Russell is unemployed, as the firing of the head coach affects the entire staff. The coaching profession is unstable, and we recognize how blessed we’ve been for Russell to retain his position for seventeen years. In addition, the majority of our family is near by, we have an extremely supportive and loving community, and we both have worked our dream jobs while living in Austin, TX — not to mention that my alma mater is the University of Texas! Are you kidding me!?!? This was perfect, and after seventeen years our roots and comfort are as deep as a five-hundred year-old oak tree.
In the twelve years that Russell and I have been together, with ten of those being married, this time of year is always stressful! It’s the time when he’s been offered other assistant and head coaching jobs, but he has always turned them down because of our happy life. Rick Barnes always advised Russell to “not mess with happy” and because college coaching is very hard, intense, extremely competitive and finicky, Coach Barnes’ other advice was to “not take a job unless it was a job we’d be satisfied with forever, as well as in a location we’d be content in living forever, because in college coaching, it could be your only and last job.” Extremely happy is how I’d describe our life in Austin, which is why we chose to turn down good opportunities, even knowing that this day was more than likely inevitable.
The week before the official “end of the era” occurred, we knew uncertain times lie ahead. My wise and faithful sister Shonna let me know that she and her husband were praying that whatever doors God didn’t want us to walk through would be slammed shut, and the doors He does want us to walk through be busted wide open. We have adopted this prayer for ourselves and it has helped us release some of the “what if’s” and questions, which are the mental and emotional killers. I’d like to say it has taken all fear away, but it still lingers, and for me, it shows up every time Russell speaks of a potential job that is not in Austin. This is what happened early Thursday morning before he left for the Final Four, in Indianapolis.
He let me know about a job that of course is not in Austin, which caused a real physical rush of fear throughout every square inch of my body. In support of Russell, I didn’t say a word. He needs my support more than anything and not my fearful rants. I’m learning the significant differences between a man and woman’s heart, and his deepest desire is to provide for our family while his greatest fear is to not provide. While I completely honor and respect this, my deepest desire for our family is to remain where we are: surrounded and supported by our family, community and living in an amazing city. So, as I gave him a hug goodbye, I was flooded with fear and my mind wandered in a million different directions. I was consumed and debilitated with worry and I knew I couldn’t continue down this path so I instantly prayed for God to fill me with His Peace and help me trust in His plan for our life. In the midst of my prayer it hit me. If I trust, then I trust, so stop not trusting! And I do trust, so I needed to stop second guessing God.
At the same time, I remembered an interview with Oprah and the rapper 50 Cent (strange, I know!). Oprah asked about his faith and he boiled it down to this: “You can pray or worry, but you can’t do both. I choose to pray.” He is so right, and at that moment in my prayer, I felt total peace, which I continued to feel. In fact, our closed door/open door prayer has been super cool witness because God is answering questions without us having to wonder. Several doors have slammed shut which is an absolute answer that God does not want us there. Without believing in this prayer, Russell would have felt defeated, rejected and thinking that he was not good enough. Instead, we know it is not where God wants us. In addition, a few doors are currently cracked open, but no doors have been busted wide open. This tells us that currently we are exactly where God needs and wants us. It has also led to Russell leaning on a variety of wise male friends and mentors, and with the exception of him being gone a few days to Indianapolis, we are reaping the benefits of time. If he did have a job he’d be out of town recruiting and we wouldn’t have this sweet time together. We are grateful!
Finally, on Thursday morning, the same morning when I was so overcome with fear and then peace, Durant (my four year old son) woke up yelling, “Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy!” I walked into his room, held him and said, “Durant, I am here. You don’t need to be scared.” As I lay there holding him, it hit me like a bolt of lightening, that is exactly what God is telling us.
Truly, we have no idea what our next steps are, much less what our next chapter looks like, but what we do know is that the antidote to worry is gratitude (Charlotte Benson) and that God will continue to close the doors that He doesn’t want us walking through, while only opening the doors that He wants us walking through. We are only one week into this interesting journey, and we are blown away with what we are learning and discovering — we’re also being reminded of how absolutely blessed we are with amazing friends and family members (I’ll eventually share more). What we do know is that we’ll be fine, our life will begin to settle sooner than later, and most importantly there will be a day when someone else is walking down the fearful job loss or career uncertainty path and we will be able to hold their hands and with confidence assure them that God is with them and they don’t need to be scared.
Happy Easter and Passover!
Trust God through the hard times knowing He has a plan for you and be willing to offer first-hand comfort and support to someone experiencing difficult and uncertain times.
thanks for this Neissa, John and I have been thinking of this struggle of yours and praying for you both! what do people do without this kind of faith???!!! xoxoxox
You are so dear, Jennifer! I can’t thank you enough for your prayers. This is definitely not an easy journey (by any stretch of the imagination), however we are blown away by the way God is answering our prayers. I don’t want to rush my life, though I do look forward to one year from now (or less or more) to see how God has put this puzzle together. He’s amazing that way…and in so many other ways 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Easter with your family, Jennifer!!
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