In the middle of a recent job interview, I suddenly felt like the late Adm. James Stockdale. At his only debate as a vice-presidential candidate, he asked the questions above.
While I carefully dissected why I wanted this job and explain the answer in a detached but intellectual manner to my interviewers, it occurred to me that I had lost my way... again.
Feeling 11 years ago that journalism was my true calling, I dove headfirst on the fast track to becoming a prolific writer. You gotta understand, I started this new chapter of my life at the age of 44. From that cloud, I tried to think and negotiate ways of getting to a successful point in my life as quickly as possible because 1) I felt older just looking around my classroom before I graduated in 1992 and 2) the gnawing reminder that my mother worried herself into an early grave at the age of 56. I wanted to use God's gift of writing to reach and change the lives of as many people as I could before my late restart and family history of heart disease caught up with me. So I pushed and I moved to two more states in my quest to live my dream of what I thought becoming a good journalist meant.
When the career rug was pulled from under me last February, I didn't realize that I was chasing the dream so hard I lost parts of me in the process. Eventually, the person I saw in the mirror was the same person who at one time signed her checks "Mrs. Kenneth Rhone" instead of the name my parents gave me. I lost my identity trying to find a new one.
Killer part is I like me. I didn't try to lose who I was to become the person I thought I wanted to be, the person they wanted me to be. I got caught up in personal rejection instead of professional expediency as they told me I wasn't good enough to be who I thought I was.
At one point, I found myself crying in front of a grocery store employment kiosk because I thought I needed to just find a job, any job, to prove my worth. To have somebody say, yes, we want you.
But that's not who I am. I am loved. God loves me, regardless of my skills or my potential. But I stopped loving myself because of the difficulty of rejection in this whole job finding process.
But as I sat across from three smiling people who genuinely seemed interested in me and my life, I had the epiphany that it wasn't their approval I was seeking (except the job. The job is killer and I'd love to wrap myself in it). I needed to find a way to validate myself so I talked about things that mattered to me, how I really saw my potential and my history of helping others and it occurred to me that that's what was missing. I stopped helping other people. I lived for the feeling of seeing myself doing good in the world and you can't give hugs at a pity party.
Service in God's name. I fired myself from that job and the vacancy was still open. I could recapture that spirit of giving of myself, my thoughts, my skills, my empathy, me, and get back to the business of spreading God's love and His message of doing for others again.
Okay, God. I'm back. Ma, your advice was right: there is nobody better than me.
I'm ready to restart the journey now, Lord. To live off the nectar of serving others gave me more pleasure than any cut of prime rib (and I loves me some prime rib) and I want that taste back on the tongue of my spirit.
I'm ready to start smiling again....