So, during that time, Emily and I had been married about 2 years or so. She had a good job working as an office manager for a clinic and I was commuting 40 miles each way for work from our apartment in Tigard in the heart of the westside of Portland. We started attending a home community in NE Portland that was led by another elder from our church Matthew and his wife Aminta. I was able to contribute as the worship leader and we began to plug in with our church in a bigger way. I met with Matthew for breakfast a few times and he asked me some tough questions. He asked about money, about my job and how I felt about work. We talked about my music dreams and where that had taken me and my family as well as where it might lead.
After a long conversation, he told me that I wasn't making enough money. It wasn't really a statement about money though. At issue was the fact that I didn't really care how much money I was making because I wasn't that concerned about my role in our family and wasn't that aware of Emily's role either. It took a good 8 months or so after that before I made any real changes, but it was during that time that Emily and I found out that we were going to have our first baby.
It is really crazy how finding out that your family is growing puts your life into perspective. The wheels started turning and I started to take those words that Matthew had shared to heart. This process is where I first learned about working to support a family. I realized that I was never going to make the kind of living that I'd need to support my family where I was at. In fact, I remember talking to Paul who was a coworker and manager with me and when I threw out a figure, he told me that he didn't think that the owner paid himself that much. 3 weeks later I started a new career that would last the next year and a half. I became a car salesman!
If you've ever gone shopping for a car, you understand the environment that I stepped into...well, sort of. The hours are long and unpleasant. The pressure is demeaning and the demands and expectations are often unethical. I had to disengage from being part of a worship team at church and our home community because the majority of cars sell on the weekend and no one gets weekends off. This was an incredibly rough time for Emily, but it was useful in so many ways for my family.
First of all, it allowed me to spend a couple of days with our new baby in the middle of every week. I had a chance to bond with him and enjoy this new part of being a family. Though every week was long and demanding and I was so anxious for my days off, I believe that it was shaping character in me. It felt like the wilderness for us. Emily was alone on the weekends when most families were together. We didn't have the time or opportunity to connect with community and it often felt like we were lost.
What I never expected during this time was the way that my attitude toward work would change. The things that Creighton and Matthew had talked about started to take shape in my heart and I can now see in retrospect that though it felt like a fruitless and desert like time for us, it was the primary way that my heart was being shaped.
More to continue in the next post Work Ethic Part III