This I Believe

Lisa - ROCHESTER, New York
Entered on January 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I Believe

We can ask for what we want, but I believe we get what we need.

My husband and I returned to Upstate New York from California to escape the crushing financial pressures of living in San Francisco with two young children. Our vision: save money and return to California so my husband could attend seminary, and start an intentional community, a dream we’ve had for years.

For my husband, the measure of his self-worth is his ability to provide for his family, something his own father rarely did. We had discussed his need to overcome his Willie Loman sense of responsibility and shift to a paradigm that allows for the inclusion of personal meaning.

In a seemingly backwards move, he left the world of non-profits, and accepted a high paying state job intending to stay long enough to save money for seminary. Disliking this job after only a few months, he accepted his first corporate position. He was asked to take the lead on selling a product that was irrevocably flawed. Each day he struggled with staying true to his conscience and being the “responsible provider.”

There was a curious irony: for years my husband’s work involved serving others’ needs, yet personally he denied his own. Now, as he was acknowledging his own needs, he was hocking snake oil for a living, serving only the company’s bottom line. What happened?

On a warm Thursday in September, he met with our new minister, who asked him frankly, “What do you want?” My husband shared his vision with uncharacteristic certitude. “I can’t believe this!” Our minister responded excitedly, “I have been waiting for the right people to start a new community, to have a spiritual development center supported by a few families and cultivated into a new church.” My husband came home that evening enlivened and frightened as never before. “How do we make this happen?” He wondered.

The next morning, my husband kissed me goodbye, and I whispered to him, “It’s time for a change.” That afternoon, he pulled into the driveway carrying a cardboard box. “I was let go today,” he said flatly, trying to hold back tears. We had just bought our first house, our daughter was barely three and our son was not yet a year old. They left him with no severance and no health coverage. My husband was suddenly faced with his greatest fear: his inability to provide for his family.

It’s five months later, and financially, we’re barely hanging on. However, we are more grounded than we’ve ever been. We are both home with the kids, taking turns issuing time-outs and changing diapers, and I’ve started a new small business that I’ve talked about for years. And as life would have it, we just set up our first formal meeting with another couple to begin an intentional community. This is not the journey we chose, and yet, it is the journey we have been called to, and exactly where we belong.