I realize this a long post, but it is a story I want to share. Perhaps I will be the only one to benefit from it - to have this very abridged version of a very long and difficult journey written down for myself to look back on during other times of trial. I do, however, hope it serves a purpose beyond my own little world.
It started one late night in November as I was lying on Hallie's bedroom floor helping her fall asleep after a hard day. After what seemed like hours of stories and songs she finally drifted off, and in one quick moment I let my emotions take over. I quietly cried into the crook of my arm, hoping not to wake Hallie with my sobs. I was tired and discouraged and frustrated. As the tears rolled down my face I could only wonder what Clay and I were about to get ourselves into.
Three months earlier we decided that we needed to leave Texas. We had only lived there a short time, but after many tearful discussions and prayers we knew we couldn't stay. Clay needed a different job. We needed to be closer to our families. We desired a different life for us and a for our daughter. So Clay started looking for jobs in Utah and Idaho. He is a law school graduate and a licensed estate planning attorney, but we knew with the job market the way it is finding a position equal to Clay's experience and abilities would be tough. We agreed that an entry-level position somewhere, anywhere, would have to do - it would be our ticket home and would allow us to start over and work our way up from the bottom. It wasn't ideal, but we felt it was our best chance. However, by November, after months of searching, applying for jobs and phone interviews, we had nothing. Clay was getting rejection emails and phone calls on a daily basis. It hurt and we felt defeated.
So there I lay, on the cold, hard floor of my two-year old daughter's bedroom, wondering how we were going to make it. Hoping for a miracle that would get us where we so desperately wanted to be. In my weakest moment, I cried to the Lord in anger. "Why?" I asked. "Why won't anyone give Clay a chance?" I said it over and over, hoping for an answer. I will never forget that feeling of desperation and what happened next. I heard a voice softly say, "Because something better is coming." I didn't know who or what said it, but I knew it wasn't me or my own thought because I did not believe it. I truly didn't think that anything better was waiting for us. Not that night, at least.
After two more months of rejections, the lease was up on our rental home and we knew we had to leave with nothing. Clay quit his job, we said goodbye to close friends and terrific food and beautiful weather, we sold many of our belongings, then we came home to live with our parents - something I swore we'd never, ever do. Following through on the choice to leave our life and job and familiarity, regardless of how unhappy we were with them, was a scary one, but from the day we moved I knew I had to have faith that the words I heard in response to my prayer were true. Something better was coming. I didn't know when or where or how to find it, but I believed. We believed. And we took our leap of faith.
Every day for five months we wrestled with the decision we made. For 139 days we were either on the verge of tears or already there. We spent 139 mornings waking up feeling like we had no purpose, no hope and going to sleep for 139 nights feeling trapped and discouraged. Clay had over twenty interviews during that time. With each potential job we hung our every hope on it being the one he would get. And with every "thanks, but no thanks" or "you're not the right fit" or "we've gone in another direction", our hearts broke. They weren't even great jobs - just something that would help us get by. Clay fought for each job and put all he had into every interview process, only to be shot down so effortlessly, almost as if he were an afterthought. The tears flowed. The depression deepened. Then we'd force ourselves to pick up the pieces and start over. Every time I asked and wondered why were required to struggle so much, from the back of my mind I would hear the phrase, "because something better is coming."
There was one specific job that we wanted more than anything. It was in Salt Lake with a small investment company. Clay interviewed with them over the phone and in person, both with very positive responses. They really liked him and said a lot of things that had us thinking the job was ours. We started looking at houses in the area and dreamed up a life there for our little family before we even got an offer. We were sure it was coming and I was certain this was our path to something better. Then, after three weeks of waiting and dreaming and allowing the excitement to build until we were ready to burst, we were told they chose someone else. This may sound dramatic, but it was easily the hardest day in our eight years of marriage. To look at my husband, who has done everything he can to try to take care of his two girls, and so clearly see the fear and sadness in his eyes was more than I could bear. At that point we had nothing to hold on to. In one short minute we went from preparing and planning for this great offer to losing a life we didn't quite have but were so close to reaching. We spent the day wallowing in self-pity and spreading the bad news among our closest family and friends. We were angry and confused and felt cheated, but the following day we decided to remain faithful and hold our heads high. We went into survival mode and kicked our plans into high gear. We got in touch with any and every professional contact we had. Clay emailed his resume to over three dozen companies in the Salt Lake area, whether they were hiring or not. We pulled out all the stops. We realized we were going to be in this for the long haul and we were preparing for life to get harder, for the days to get worse.
Surprisingly, the Lord had something else in mind. Three days after our painful and unexpected rejection in Salt Lake, Clay was contacted by a company in Boise requesting an interview. Three days after the first interview they wanted to see him again. And five days after that he was offered a job. On June 20th, Clay accepted the job in Boise. Ironically, this was the only job since Clay first started looking almost a year ago that we didn't hope for. We thought it was too good. We didn't think he had a chance. We didn't dwell on it like all the others, we didn't pray as hard for it as all the others, we hardly even spoke about it with each other. It was almost too good to be true, so we didn't even consider it. Yet here we are. Clay started on Monday and every day we look at each other in disbelief that he is suddenly employed again. His new job is very hard work and will challenge him every day, but that's good. That's what he needs and what he has wanted but that every job before this had been lacking. And this job, the one that we absolutely didn't see coming, is better. It is better in every way than any other of the hundreds of jobs Clay applied for. A better fit, better location, better company, better career, better relationships, better opportunities. It is, without a doubt, our something better.
It will never cease to amaze me that the words I heard on a dark and lonely autumn night would not only prove to be true, but that they were powerful enough to help me get through the otherwise unbearable pain and discouragement I felt throughout this trial. Clay and I made a hard choice, one that few would make in these uncertain times and that many said we were crazy for making, but because we had faith and we believed those five simple words to be true, we knew our choice would not be in vain.
This is only a portion of the trials we have been facing as of late, but if I have learned anything from this experience it is that prayers are answered, that God does not leave us on our own, and that relying on faith - the belief that your unseen hopes and dreams will become a reality - can carry you through your hardship. I know that to be true and I believe that when we turn to God in our times of trouble instead of doubting him, he will always provide a way.