Gratitude

I’ve been off the grid for a while due to being laid off unexpectedly.  It truly is amazing how quickly things can change.  One minute you’re part of one of the premier software teams in Nashville, TN – pinching yourself every day, thinking “this must be a dream….this is too good to be true”.  The next minute you’re unemployed and in the hole financially thanks to a thieving CEO.  I will blog about the “why” behind the layoffs another time, but suffice it to say that we not only lost our jobs, but were owed at least 3 weeks pay (which we’ll never see).  Job hunting was….interesting.  Despite numerous recruiters’ claims “Sure, there are plenty of senior level software positions open in Nashville”, none materialized.  I learned of an opening in Chattanooga through a fellow developer, and after researching them (plus interviewing), felt like it was great opportunity.

Fast forward to tonight.  I’m in my hotel, ready to start my second week with the new company tomorrow.  I’ve been sick for the last week – with the worst of it hitting me this weekend.  I miss my family, still have a house to pack (and…gasp…sell) and was primed and ready for a mini-pity party tonight.  My mind started wandering over silly little regrets – you know, the ones from 20 years ago that suddenly pop into your mind leaving you as embarrassed now as you were then.  Whether out of habit, or desperation, I began to discuss my situation aloud in prayer.  I lamented over those silly things, but especially over the very real financial challenges my family faces today: selling a house in a down market & expecting a loss; being without a paycheck since June; the credit debt we’re incurring until paychecks arrive, etc.

I suddenly realized how silly I sounded.  It’s not that my problems are’t real or important to me or to God, but seriously, I needed perspective!  In all of human history, I (along with millions of Americans) am in the upper echelons of salary and standard of living.  Even when I sell my house and take the loss I expect, we will recover and wind up in better shape than we’ve ever been thanks to a generous offer and a cheap cost of living in Chattanooga.  While I can easily pine-on-demand about wanting a life of meaning, how many millions of people have lived lives in the muck and filth of places like Kibera – maybe at one time they hoped for something better, but the world crushed it out of them, leaving them dead inside long before death claimed them?  I was struck with profound gratitude – the sense of which only grew as I voiced aloud what I was thankful for.

I have a job – and less than a month after I lost my old one.  I love what I do – how many people can truly say that?!  My job allows my wife to stay at home with our boys.  My wife and sons are healthy, safe and without want when it comes to necessities. Despite our impending move two hours from our current home, my boys have enjoyed 3 years with my mom and step-dad close by – and the two hours to Chattanooga is really not bad at all.  Living in Chattanooga puts us closer to my dad, step-mom and my oldest sister.  Despite the awful way my last job fell apart, working there introduced me to some of the sharpest developers I have ever met, and allowed me to forge friendships I will value the rest of my life.  I could go on….there truly is so much I have to be grateful for.  Saying it out loud is a powerful thing.  I encourage you to try it as well…

(Oh, and I’m also thankful for the 17-inch Macbook Pro my new company bought for me to use!)

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  • http://twitter.com/kylechowning @kylechowning

    What a great post Jim. Given that we both have or are going through some significant transitions which bring different and pressing pressures, this is a great perspective about….well, perspective.

    Again, congrats on your new job and that amazing machine called a Mac Book Pro!

  • Cori

    Good post. I always try and keep in mind the "grand scheme of things." I can usually stop my pity parties in their tracks with that!

  • Seth Miller

    Randomly stumbled upon your blog. Rarely do I see a writer today with your talent…especially with many of the same convictions and beliefs as I. Just want to let you know I appreciate your work.

    • http://ashbylane.vox.com Jim Cowart

      Seth – thanks for the kind words! I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply….life has been dense and busy (next thing I know, months have flown by and I haven't blogged a bit!).