January 25, 2007

here it goes

At the risk of it seeming as though I pompously assume people should/would want to know any of this, I've decided to post a portion of an e-mail I sent to a few friends today...

You know the old saying, 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it"? That's where I've been for a long while. I've not felt like there were too many things I could say without revealing the strain that has been on my shoulders. But as another old saying goes, 'fuck it' ... Living in San Diego has become very hard on me lately...

Financially, the cost of living in comparison to wages is a vast divide. I don't make bad money. For the first time in my life I have possibly a solid future with a company. I'm a licensed building inspector, I'm the operations manager/project coordinator for a growing construction services company. I wish that excited me. It doesn't right now. Still, we struggle to pay our bills. I could gouge all of my housemates like the other property owner's in the neighborhood. That would help. But I don't and therefore Brooke and I are in anxiety at the end of each month. We cut out item after item, sold stuff, down sized and we still scrape by. This isn't anyone's fault but ours. We've made some poor financial decisions. We were more hopeful than maybe we should have been. We also didn't expect this old house to start falling down around us, the necessity of room additions so quickly, etc. ... the list goes on.

Socially, it's highly transient. No one seems to plan on being here forever. You start to get to know people, people that care about the right things and will fight for those things, and they move on. And if they stay in the county, San Diegans tend to move around a lot. No one is in a particular neighborhood for very long. (Brooke and I are not much different there. We've lived in 4 different homes in the last ten years.) My brother thought it was odd that I was praying the Luke 10.2 prayer when I told him I was. It sounded cheesy to him I think. But I'm desperate for 'workers'. I want people whom I can lock arms with, that are healthy, mature, conscious and able to take on the powers of this city with us. The trouble is, they either move away... or buy a house and get caught up in the rat race.

It was easier when Brooke and I could take turns focusing on making money. Either one of us would just focus on work and when we did that, and had a smaller mortgage, it worked. One of us could focus on family and the causes we care about. But now we are at a place where we both are so committed and invested into things such as planting faith communities, restoring justice and promoting sustainable living (ha, if only we could) in this city that we're both looking at things like full-time occupation in an arena outside of these things, car payments and mortgages and saying, "Why!? For what?!"

I understand that I have a lot more than most people in the world. And in a particular way I am grateful but in another I feel responsible; responsible to curb mine and others consumptive habits, level the playing field, announce the kingdom via shouting 'We don't need all of this to exist! There is another way to be human and Jesus announced and displayed it!" The truth is, THAT is what I want to spend my waking hours doing; living and breathing that message. I feel though, at this point, I live a dual life. I spend the majority of my day doing something that I am not passionate about. I enjoy it. I love the people I work with. I see results of my work daily. And I'm good at it. But then, it's not what I live for. It's not what I think truly matters. And, quite frankly, I only do it to be able to afford to live here which it barely does.

Because of my job, I have to pass up other opportunities of things I am deeply convicted about. Because of my working hours or because my weekends and evenings are often filled with, fixing a plumbing problem, framing a new wall, a re-roof, running conduit, fixing a gate, putting in a new lock, etc. I have to say 'no' to those things that make me feel alive and have some kind of purpose in the world and that I'm participating in making this world a better place for my kids and their kids.

When I'm not working on things around the house, most often, we are organizing glocal teach-in's, working on the people's school, working with other people seeking justice in the city, talking with people about the kingdom and planting faith communities. We've been better about protecting Sundays as our Sabaath day, our dear friend Matt watches the kids every other week so we can have a date night... so, we're getting personal time and we live much healthier now in relation to diet and exercise... I'm just tired of working so damn hard on so many fronts and none of it getting us anywhere closer to where we want/need to be.

This is where my internal voice says, "You're a whining, unappreciative brat!" And I submit to it, go quiet, internalize my frustration and keep the guilt and despair this situation brings me deep inside my heart. "Act positive, damn it!" that same voice says. So, I smile and do my best to push forward with every ounce of energy I have. I try to not to 'burden' myself on my wife, kids, housemates, friends and family. 'Just keep moving forward, man' it says. And I do.

And then, yesterday, I broke.

I sat on the floor in our bathroom and wept. Brooke and I talked for awhile...

"I can't keep this up forever," I said, "This isn't sustainable." I feel like a Roman soldier that has converted yet still thinks he can work for Caesar and follow Jesus at the same time. Can you? Can I? I don't know any longer. The level of confliction deep inside me is growing more and more painful. I don't feel I'm up to putting years into something that I'm not certain matters on the grand scale when I could start putting time into those things that do matter now. How? Finish the repairs on this house and downsize more, so we don't need to spend as much time working to pay for the things that we don't necessarily need to survive. What will that mean? Not sure yet. If we could have the time to nurture relationships more, cultivate the things that matter, locate more of those that want to partner in that, spend more time learning and growing through others knowledge and experience, giving ourselves more of the time needed to be creative, grow a garden, walk and ride bikes (as opposed to driving everywhere just because of a over-filled schedule)... I think that would be good. But, as I said... I'm really not certain what's next. I'm not certain that's even possible here. Something just needs to change... sooner than later.


Robert said...

Thanks for that post. I haven't been to your blog in awhile, and just kind of stumbled across it today. I feel for you, friend, and I'm glad you could be honest with yourself, your wife, and, I guess, the whole blogging world :)
Hang in there. It's at times like these when God starts speaking.

Robert Grisham

+ Alan said...

Heavy duty stuff man. I pray for your Peace - Peace. I pray for Grace.

mike said...

Could this be a "seasonal" thing -- albeit maybe a long season? My wife & I went through/still in similar situation. We homeschooled our kids which gave us liited income. Then, when they were older & "more expensive (cars/braces/college, etc), my wife was in college trying to catch up. She just graduated & has two lucrative job offers. "Spring" is at least teasing us now. I pray the same thing for you.

Laurie said...

I also stumbled on your blog today after not visiting for a very long time. Thanks for honesty.

San Diego doesn't seem so different from Lake Tahoe! Talk about transient people & high cost of living--try living here! On top of that, we have such isolation and such great distances between like-minded souls (if they are here at all) it is difficult to maintain close relationships.

In my case, as a single female in an area where there are no Christian single men, it is particularly difficult. Be grateful for Brooke and the kids to love and pour your life into, and for someone who will find you and hear you when you cry.

Next, if you haven't read it, pick up a copy of "Divine Nobodies" by Jim Palmer, and be encouraged! You are probably right where God can speak to you and use you the most!

Lake Tahoe

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