Have I mentioned that I’m the nervous type?
I’m a projector. The Bible reminds us to not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). I have difficulty remembering this directive as my projector nature has me conjuring up worst case scenarios way beyond tomorrow, and usually well into next week, the week after and months on down the road.
And the further out I go the bleaker things tend to appear.
Emily turns ten tomorrow and she approaches life so differently than I did at her age. I was a Mini Projector at this particular stage of life and it was during my tenth year that I endured an extremely troubling season of Little League baseball. Truth be told, I really didn’t want to play, but all of my friends were playing so it seemed like the thing to do. Unfortunately I wound up on a team with nothing but unfamiliar faces, and while all of my friends seemed to be paired-up or actually comprising the entire infield of the Braves, Cubs and Yankees I was on the somber, scary (red) Dodgers. I hated every second of it, which was strange because I have always loved baseball – playing or watching. Nobody was particularly mean to me and there was really no pressure to perform, but there I was in the first inning of our very first game getting ready for my first at bat when I was overwhelmed with a tremendous need to pee.
It was a massive wave of nervousness, anxiety on overdrive, and there was just nothing that I could do. So I tried to let out just a little, but lacking the control and ultimately caving to the nervousness, I succumbed and totally wet myself.
Back in those days we wore baggy, wool baseball pants. Gray. There was no place to hide. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for my Mom and Dad to see their son looking all dapper in his (red) Dodgers uniform, and a massive pee spot on his pants. I lamely attempted to explain that I’d splashed myself at the drinking fountain, but it was such an unconvincing and pathetic lie that I think I scared all of my teammates.
At some point I was given a replacement pair and life went on.
I’m starting a new job on Monday and it is a complete answer to prayer. A blessing beyond belief. I’ve been excited for a good little while, but last night there was a darkness that choked out all that excitement and had me in a cold, sad place. I confess to you fair reader that I was not only doing some serious projecting about the future, but now I was ruminating on the past. I was believing the lies that told me that I am too old, too lazy and too dumb to be able to do this job well and that I would be letting a lot of people down. My new boss, my new team, all my new customers and my family were going to see what a colossal failure I am and for sure I would be banished to the Sales Hall of Shame.
That was my projection.
Hitting the pity party pause button for a moment, I now opted to take a stroll down Regret Way to see if perhaps I might be able to stir up a little extra anxiety for myself. It didn’t take long. You have to know that I was presented with two possible options for my new career path; one that made a lot of sense and another that was a bit riskier. I prayed about it and talked with Samantha about both opportunities and we agreed that the riskier path seemed much more in line with my personality and with what we had been praying for my career for a number of years, so the decision was made. Last night for some reason I introduced a fictional option number three, which had me turning down the first two, taking a severance package and letting the chips fall where they may. I tossed and turn with angry regret that I hadn’t chosen that ridiculous option.
Needless to say, between my sad sack projections and my perversely awful fantasies about quitting I worked myself into quite a jittery mess last night.
It was dark and sad and frightening. God’s Word tells believers that we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), but what is often left out of this oft-quoted Scripture is the first part of it: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God (and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ).
The thoughts I was having last night were all mine. These were not God-supplied. These were selfish, self-centered lies that can only be explained by my sinful nature, the very thing for which Jesus died for. And while I failed to demolish these pretensions I’m happy to report that Samantha did not fail. She prayed hard for me last night. She was on her knees crying-out to Jesus for relief and rebuking Satan (rather loudly I might add). It was an amazing experience and is one of the countless times that my amazing wife has rescued me from the pit of despair through love, support and (loud) prayer.
Rescued, I settled in for a good night’s rest and ultimately had a vivid dream in which I strolled into Human Resources and demanded to be released from my obligations. In that same dream I had an extremely long hair growing out of my ear, so all of you dream interpreters can stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Still, I was puzzled and bothered by the dream, and I spent the better part of the morning fretting about it and once again I was very nervous. I was jittery.
Today was not supposed to be my official first day on the new job. It was scheduled for Monday. But I spent a good portion of this week engaged in conference calls while being included in many e-mail messages with my new customers and brokers. It was exciting and frightening, enlightening and daunting. I was getting a preview of things to come, and a lot of it was scary to me. Today was to be moving day where computer, phone, chair and belongings go from one cubicle to another, so I assumed it was to be largely a day in limbo as I didn’t feel mentally prepared to be amongst my new team.
The prayers from the night before sustained me to this point, but the dream bothered me and I fretted the entire 35-minute drive to work.
Finding my place in the parking structure, it suddenly felt like opening day all over again and I was once again a (red) Dodger. I nervously gathered my laptop bag and made my way into the building, but just as I reached the front doors I was hit with the unmistakable wave of nervousness that plagued the ten-year-old Little League version of myself. A tsunami of urine was building and I was once again in the grip of a major panic attack. I was now in the building and in the elevator lobby. I tried not to be obvious with my pacing, but I desperately needed to relieve myself. There were a few miserable stops before I got to my old, familiar floor, and once I exited I knew I was in trouble. I was at least 100 steps from the restroom and a crisis was brewing. I was tempted to break into a sprint but that would not have looked good. I tried to walk fast while holding it in but in the end all attempts were futile. I wore jeans today and I could feel the distinct warm trickle down both legs. This was bad.
By the time I got to the potty my underwear was fairly soaked, but thankfully I had a little more control at 47 than I did at 10, so the damage was mostly confined to the tidy whities, which unfortunately had to be discarded and I had to go commando for this particular day of work. Quite humbling, but the next phase was even more challenging.
Arriving at my old desk, I was startled to discover that I had already been moved to my new floor amongst my team. I was already a (red) Dodger even though I wasn’t ready for it.
I never imagined in a million years that I would have to greet my new floor mates and sales team sans underwear, yet there I was. But something quite amazing happened on this day, something that in retrospect seems unlikely to be particularly amazing to anyone but me. On this day – following a night of wrestling with Satan and weird dreams – I walked into work and wet my pants and worked my first day in my new job. I sat at my new desk wearing jeans and no underwear and I not only lived to tell about it, I actually enjoyed the whole experience. Warts and all.
It was ultimately a blessing to have my first “official” day on my new job a day early just so that I could settle in and get the feel for things, and by getting the feel for things I don’t mean that odd feeling of talking to people who don’t necessarily know that I’d wet my pants at 8 AM and now sat before them without any underwear on.
It was a wonderful day and it is an experience I shall never forget.
I don’t doubt that Sunday night will bring about its own set of worries and fretting, but for now I’m going to focus on today and leave the worries of the future for another time. I just have to for my sanity, my family’s well-being and as a means of keeping myself dry for the next 24 hours. Pray for me.