Stories in my Pocket: This Wasn't The Plan (Part 4)

Click here to catch up: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

"So, did you travel much in your previous job?" my new manager queried as engines revved and attendants glanced evil-eyed at tray tables and seat backs not yet in their locked and upright positions.

"No, not much." I averted eye contact hoping Tamara wouldn't follow up.  My work history was not a subject I wanted to dwell on.  In fact, I would have been glad to strike the last four months from my employment record. I was still in shock they even offered me this job.

I had arrived late for the interview. I got dreadfully lost, excusable perhaps in Boston or DC. But this was a Dayton suburb.  Not even Dayton.  A suburb of Dayton.  I was quite certain that would be it for me.

But after five hours of interviews, I landed an offer that very evening to work in the consulting division for a prestigious Big Six accounting firm.  I was out of my league.  In over my head.  Petrified.

Tamara sipped Chardonnay, her 30s fitting her like designer jeans--rich, sleek, comfortable. I clutched my water, a broad daylight stowaway on a first class flight. When the flight attendant offered hot towels, I peered sideways like an inept P.I., looking for my next cue.  Oh, it's for the hands and face. Good thing I didn't go with my first guess to put it on my lap. 

In retrospect, the Chardonnay would have been a better choice for my nerves, but I didn't have the sophistication to speak audibly of a French grape, let alone to drink it.

I was on guard the entire week, and not the kind that meant I was on my best behavior. It was the kind of guarding that makes you not even remotely you.  I sunk as far back into myself as possible so my heart could pound me senseless in private. 

In those early days, my career and my comfort zone were worlds apart. I was certain I belonged elsewhere. I was far more at ease in the tiny circle I labeled my life than in the square panels of my cubicle.  A pastor's kid who had grown up eating WIC cheese and garden squash, it's no wonder I felt lost in this world of ivy league wine connoisseurs.

Larry and I planned to pay off our school loans, complete P.A. school through the Air Force, and move to Bangladesh. He would care for the sick. I would teach the children in the orphanage. We would serve the poor and do meaningful things. It was our heart's desire. 

But if there is one thing I've learned in my 25 year journey of faith, it's that God never takes my ideas.  Not even the good ones.  I've since abandoned my impertinent suggestion box, but back then, it was teeming with carefully crafted proposals.  

Returning home after my fourth week on the road, I broke down within seconds of walking through the door.  This isn't me, I kept telling Larry. I feel so out of place. And none of the stuff I'm doing makes a difference.  (I might have also complained that the endless amount of Powerpoint slides, the prolific use of acronyms, and the "ization" of perfectly innocent nouns was going to drive me mad.) 

I relied on the promises of God as if they had an expiration date. Surely, He would pour them out in my life before they went sour. I'm waiting.  I'm ready to give it all up to Bangladesh. Come on, God, get me out of here so I can do something meaningful...

I honestly had no idea I was bossing God around, knowing better, shaking my head like He was a teenager that just didn't get it. 


Seven years later, the distinction between me and my career had disappeared. I had grown more comfortable in a conference room than at home. I had work mode and sleep mode and nothing in between. I missed the dinner my husband surprised me with because I didn't mean it when I said I'd be home in a little bit. I posed at the Nasdaq on IPO day. I built a team. I took up golf.  The lines between colleagues and friends blurred until they were one and the same. I had a dozen new stamps in my passport.  But none for Bangladesh.   

I no longer bossed God around, but I no longer waited on His promises. I lived in the shallow end, ankle deep, scraping my feet along the underwater bumps, refusing to get wet, and determined not to drown again in the deep disappointment of my perfectly planned life going unlived.

It had been seven years since my career had taken off with the flight, and all the talk was that I had arrived. I was whittling through email on a brisk Saturday morning, Misha's coffee in hand, when the first wake up call rang shrill.

"Ma'am, it's imperative I speak to Tech Sgt. Myles. He needs to call us back immediately."

Click here to continue reading Part 5.

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