As I was driving home from my weekend of many miles, many people and many emotional ups and downs, I rejoiced over being done with the goodbyes. I was ready to lean into the packing this week, intensely, and it felt good to be looking forward to tangible things instead of circling around old pain.
Unexpectedly, the Lord informed me I had one more: Safeguard Business Systems. I was quite surprised. It was my first full-time job, ‘way, ‘way back, and I could not remember any deep trauma there.
Back then I was still quite divided, so I wondered briefly whether I had forgotten some big ugly episode, but as I felt the emotions of Jesus next to me, I realized He had a surprise for me.
Bring it on.
Yesterday I was busier than a cat on a hot tin roof, but today I came into the office, dealt with the urgent matters, went to the car wash to part ways with a few thousand dead bugs, then headed up the infamous 5 to 6117 S. Malt Ave., City of Commerce. It has been 44 years and I still remember the address. Go figure.
Some other company is in that space now, but I sat across the street in the shade and waited for God to surface a memory or two.
It was in 1973 and the women’s liberation movement was going strong. I was the only male in an office of women ranging from 19 to 59. And I was greener than little green apples. I knew nothing about the trade, less about the culture, and was feeling my way along gently, trying to stay out of trouble.
One day, the biggest personality in the room — who sat right next to my desk — had a phone call from her husband and — as usual — exploded all over the room and informed us in gritty detail of her view of it all and how she had put him in his place, emphatically.
Her final statement was a roaring announcement that she would never marry a man unless she was his physical, intellectual and emotional superior.
My agile little Prophet mind immediately crafted a zinger: “I didn’t know they made men that small.”
My Olympic Gold medal exceptionally agile gymnast guardian angel managed to kindly, temporarily strangle me before I actually said it out loud to keep me from being savagely and terminally strangled by the termagant at the next desk.
God and I smiled about that and I made a note to look up that angel some day and commend him for his extraordinary alacrity.
Then the scene shifted to computers. They were newly added to this company’s strategy and were a source of immense fear. There were endless conversations about how computers were so efficient that they were going to eliminate most of the jobs in the world and we would all be unemployed.
The angst was deep and variegated and the verbalization of it was intense and persistent.
I never bought in.
I pointed out that someone had to design, and manufacture, and install, and operate, and maintain the computers. It was just a shift from one kind of labor to another.
My prescience was flicked away authoritatively.
Nonetheless, I was so right. Computers have actually massively increased employment by causing a lot of people to fuss about a lot of data that we didn’t used to have access to and therefore did not need to be monitored.
(Insert identical conversations about robots here).
Father pointed out that He had designed me for transition, had gifted me with the ability to be unintimidated by most transitions, and often to be able to see what the new season would look like.
And He likes that about me.
I scrolled through a bunch of the transitions I have lived through and see how time and again, I was an offense to people around me because I was not upset.
So cool to know that those situations were bringing pleasure to Father.
And that it is a portion of my design that matters so much to Him, that He insisted on our having this conversation so He could point it out. As a green 19 year old, DID jungle kid in a concrete jungle, I was already walking in my design.
Then the scene shifted again, this time to the lives of my coworkers. He scrolled through the divorces, affairs, debt, hangovers, fractured relationships, fear, legal problems, and general futility in that room.
As I made like a mouse, huddled at my desk, they talked about everything and anything. Talk about transparent and authentic. I got an education in terms of dysfunctional humanism!
Father said it was like a vaccination. From that time on, “the pleasures of sin” have always been suspect to me, as I saw, day after day — especially Monday mornings! — the down side of the culture’s values.
All that from a dorky little job in the accounting department of an aggressive business. (Can you imagine a Prophet in a windowless room, doing bookkeeping?)
As I drove away, I cautiously pinged the Lord and asked if I was done with the goodbyes. He smiled and said “Yes.”
So it is official. As of 9:37 a.m., Tuesday, July 24th, I am free to be done with my goodbyes, and to shift my attention toward saying “Hello” to South Carolina.
The visual illusion of my body being at a desk in Southern California, is simply irrelevant. This Prophet is out of here. Gone! Onward.
Spartanburg, here I come.
Copyright with a smile, July 2018 by Arthur Burk