Learning How To Die

Yesterday was a hard day.

If you’ve read my story, then you should be fairly up to speed on where I’m at in my life right now.  If you haven’t, then you should go do that before proceeding so you’ll have some context for what I’m about to say.

When I shared my story on Justin & Trisha’s blog a couple weeks ago, I talked about how I’ve walked away from the career I’ve pursued for the past 8 years and have been looking for a job.  Well, after a couple months of looking, I finally got a job on Tuesday and started yesterday.

I want to be very clear and make sure I convey that I am very grateful to now have employment and some income. I am more thankful than you may understand.  At the same time, and in the context of the journey I’ve been documenting here on my blog, I also want to be very honest. So here goes…

When I got the call Tuesday afternoon and was officially hired, I was hit with a barrage of emotions.  I felt a little relieved, kind of excited and I also hated it… all at the same time.   Applying for a job you never really saw yourself doing is one thing.  GETTING said job is an entirely different thing.  “So, this is it,” I thought to myself. “Now what?”  I was all over the emotional map, and it sucked.  I could barely feel excited to actually have a job before I felt punched in the gut and if I may be perfectly honest with you, it hurt like hell.

At Cross Point right now, Pete Wilson is teaching a series on “Shattered Dreams” that is a companion to his forthcoming book “Plan B”.  The crux of the “Plan B”/Shattered Dreams concept is “What do you do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought He would?”

This past Sunday Pete was talking about Joseph and all that happened to him on his journey from ostracized, rejected dreamer to the most powerful man in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.  One of the points he made that stuck out to me the most was “the value in your shattered dream is more about who you’re becoming than where you’re going.” The fact that Joseph eventually landed in a position of great influence, authority and leadership was a distant second to who he had become as a result of his life experiences, challenges and opportunities, all of which prepared him for said influence, authority and leadership.  The destination is always trumped by the preparation.

I had to remind myself of that many times yesterday, my first day on my new job.  The place that hired me isn’t one of the places I looked at first, second or third… it isn’t one of the places I was sure was a “good fit” for me or seemed like “the next thing.” Let me be clear and say there is NOTHING WRONG with the place that hired me. In fact, I’m sure I’ll enjoy working there.  It just WASN’T IN MY PLANS.  It felt like 2 + 2 = 30… it didn’t add up.

To be honest with you, I STRUGGLED yesterday.

I STRUGGLED with my Plan B…

I STRUGGLED with feeling like I had been sidelined…

I STRUGGLED with feeling like maybe I made the wrong decision…

I STRUGGLED with feeling like, “this is not what I came here for 8 years ago…”

Pretty much the entire time I was at work I felt like I was on the verge of breaking down. I prayed that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew… not today… not this day.  I felt like a fish out of water and didn’t want anyone to catch me out of “my element.”  Truth is, I’m not sure I even know what “my element” is anymore.

I’ve been on a journey to arrest and evict this pride and entitlement from my heart, but I found out yesterday that they are not going quietly. In fact, they are planting their heels, grabbing the door frames and kicking and screaming the entire way.

After work, I texted a close friend and told him how I felt. He replied saying, “He is after your heart”… a reminder I had given the same friend less than a week prior.  It was a reminder I needed.  It’s not about where I am… it’s about the posture and pursuit of my heart while I’m there.  Looking at so many stories throughout the Bible, I am reminded that where I am at any given moment or season of life is probably exactly where I am supposed to be. There is value in every moment… sometimes it just looks different than what I would call “valuable.”

I have no idea where all this is going… none… ZERO… ZILCH.  But I do remember Joseph, and I remember all the character-building and shaping moments that defined him more than any position he ever held.  I remember that the value of this moment in my life is in who I am becoming, not where I am going.  I remember 2 Corinthians 4:16…

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

This morning, I still have unanswered questions, yet I still trust… I still trust that God is writing a better story for me than I could ever write for myself… unexpected plot twists and all. I’m learning to embrace that story, and some days it is easier than others.

I’m learning how to let go… I’m learning how to embrace… I’m learning how to unlearn and rethink…

I’m learning how to die…

Anybody else?


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40 comments
Dayna
Dayna

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being brave enough to be so raw and honest. I read your story and want to pray the same prayer...and have that moment of just letting go...and it's a stuggle and i'm afraid. I am chronicly afraid of failure...failing at my job in particular and being seen as incompetent, worthless, untalented and just not being able to get it done. Stressful way to live to say the least. I know intellectually my worth has nothing to do with what I do, but everything about how I live suggests that I still beleive that it does. I have been so afraid of failing that been afraid to pray "Lord help me be free from being concerned about how people see me and what they think of me" because I am sure that means some where in there comes the failing :)

Your story gave me the courage tonight to pray.

Tracee
Tracee

awesome thoughts Grant! it is so hard to die to ourselves. that includes, ideas, dreams, thoughts, even some standards for our everyday life. I hate that season, but such good character that comes from those seasons.

I am trying to learn the waiting part of Pete's sermon. That hit me hard. I am in the midst of doing all jobs i hate. All jobs that don't seem anywhere close to being me at all. I hate it. So frustrating. Every sunday i have monday grr's. I hate that. God keeps whispering to me and asking me if "he is enough?" i am trying hard to answer yes.

Nick Maestas
Nick Maestas

grant-i think you and i are at the similar fork in the road. I too, left a position, a position (while i hated) was comfortable with. I left, took 2k less a year, to find happiness. it's completely different than what i'm used to, and nobody there knows me, but i believe it's where i'll grow. it's encouraging knowing that there are others out there, willing to stop where you are in live, leaving the comfortable and searching for the unknown-but doing it with the utmost confidence that He will take care of us. Like I stated in my blog-He's getting us in-He'll get us out. Thanks for this, Grant!
My recent post I’m pulling my courage out once again

Matt
Matt

What bothers me is that as Christians we engage is some incredible mental gymnastics to rationalize the way our lives are turning out. Eventually we just need to let go and realize that everything that happens in our life, good and bad, is OUR doing. We need to "take responsibility". I believe that is why God put us here, that we may become loving, nurturing, and stronger individuals.

zenichka
zenichka

hey Grant,

came here from Michael's blog. wow... the post (and the story previous to the post) struck close to home.

i haven't really been into building a career (climbing higher the ladder, anyway), but i love my job, what i do, and who i work with... and every once in a while, i get hit with the realization that i cannot be so in love with my job - 'cuz after all... it's just a job. (i would miss the people though, but then, i don't have to stop seeing them altogether)...

so while i consider my work a tremendous blessing, thank you for reminding me not to make an idol out of it...

thanks! and **hug** :)

Zee

ineffablegod
ineffablegod

Bro..I can so relate to this post. I, too, at a crossroads in my life, and I'm completely unsure in my career path, and feel that God is shifting my plans, dreams, and ambitions in place of what He desires. It's a scary thing, but a beautiful thing at the same time. And, you're absolutely right--it's about the journey. Light comes from darkness, good comes out of bad, but it's about persevering and keeping the faith. I've heard people say how can we know what good is if we haven't experienced heart-ache and disaster. This journey has been a refining process, and like you, I've been learning to die to myself daily. Oh, and 2Cor 4:16-18 have been on my mind a lot lately. I will continue to keep you in my prayers bro!

Jonathan Pearson
Jonathan Pearson

Wow! Some really tough "struggles" for you. Praying that your learning to die also helps you learn to live! Thanks for being transparent.
My recent post Yes, God Still Does Miracles!

Jonathan Pearson
Jonathan Pearson

Wow! Some really tough "struggles" for you. Praying that your learning to die also helps you learn to live! Thanks for being transparent.
My recent post Yes, God Still Does Miracles!

vanessa
vanessa

GREAT post, friend. Encouraged by your willingness to let go & allow God to really work on your heart through this Plan B phase. Looking forward to connecting soon!

Jennifer Janes
Jennifer Janes

Yes. Me too. Often, Plan B isn't anything like what we thought. I'm learning to let go and trust the process and not be caught up in where I am or where I might end up. I'm trying to focus on who I'm becoming, knowing that God will take care of the rest. It's incredibly difficult.

Makeda
Makeda

Grant this was such a powerful post on so many levels. A few people have said this already in their responses but you are touching lives in ways you can't even begin to imagine. Your courage is so incredibly inspiring and you challenge me to be a better Christian; to know God better and live my life more authentically. Thank you for continuing to share this journey that you are on. I know neither the journey nor the sharing of it are entirely easy but believe that you are being used by God in a very powerful way. Thanks again for sharing this. It touched my heart in a very significant way. You are in my prayers, friend. Sending much love your way from the Carolinas.

patricia
patricia

only in dying will we ever be able to see the power of resurrected life.

embrace this season that you're in... even when it hurts. im not a stranger to having dreams shattered before your very eyes....i was in that season for about 7 years... no answers. all pain. pure heart break... all i had was faith. and only now am i really able to breathe and know that that season is finally over.

in the midst of all the pain i've had to go through - the promise i've held on to was that He will make all things beautiful in His time. and i pray that He will make beauty of your struggles and your pain.
My recent post vessels of hope.

Michelle_B
Michelle_B

This is the first time I ever visited your blog, but the one thing that I took hold of and was encouraged by was the fact that you encouraged someone only a week before with something that you yourself had to deal with during this moment. I feel that way a lot . I feel like I encourage a person in something and then a few days later, I have to remind myself of that very same truth. It almost feels like I'm being a hypocrite. We know the truth, but living it out is so hard. What great reminders you have shared here. thanks for sharing your heart and struggles so people like me can walk away and be encouraged.

Dusty Rayburn
Dusty Rayburn

I am in the middle of reading a review copy of Plan B. Pete's is showing me the story of Joseph in a while new way. Your post just reaffirms a lot of my own feelings.

Thank you for being honest. Of everything you said above, the one thing that is just crying out to me is: God is after your heart.

In its simplicity and truth, that statement has re-focused my world today. Thank you!
My recent post Desperation

Kyle Reed
Kyle Reed

Powerful powerful stuff man.
I can't say I am right there with you (I hate when people say they know exactly what I am talking about) but I could not help but recognize those emotions of fear and uncertainty. Almost lie you wish there was a master button that revealed what was going to come of it all.

I think that has always been the hardest thing for me. Being passionate and even talented at what you are passionate about but not being patient. Almost like God has blessed you with this passion and talent but you do not get to use it.

I am really excited to see what God does with your faithfulness to his plan and where you are at in 6 months.

juliakate77
juliakate77

Grant, i usually answer your questions straight up, but today i'm gonna take another perspective. i was in a serious relationship with a great guy for 9 months. when we met, he made it very clear that his work takes a lot of his time. he's a recording engineer & producer. i didn't worry about it, because i'm a busy girl and not the clingy type. it took me months to realize that his work didn't have his time, his work had his heart. his family, friends, and I were all in competition with his work. but the kicker was when it hit me... God was in "competition" for his heart.
we broke up nearly 3 months ago and for me, it has been a smooth recovery. he jumped back into his work and continues that path. it was a pretty clean break-up too. we've joked since that it was "the best break-up ever!" don't get me wrong, it was painful. but once i realized the "heart" issue, i knew what i needed to do. i needed to remove myself from the "competition".
as cheesy as it sounds, he played Learning How to Die for me the night we ended it. we didn't have a "song" while we were together... cuz we were just way too cool for that, but we had a break-up song;) i'd listen to it after & cry and wonder what God had next and now, well most times that i listen to it, i almost feel like a sadist. i find myself saying "YES! bring on the breaking" and excited about what's next.
Your blog is not only bringing healing for those who are learning to let go, but also to those of us who have loved others that refuse to let go.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you;)

@MichaelDPerkins
@MichaelDPerkins

I read this earlier this morning and it messed me up. I had to leave my desk because my co-workers were asking why I was crying. God is using you in such a major way right now. Thank you for being you.
My recent post Five-Second-Rule and God

Amy
Amy

LOVE your blog. LOVE this post! I can relate to so much of what you said.
By the way, it reminded me of a friend's Facebook status I recently read that said this: "Sometimes we fight the hardest w/God when He is trying to give us the desires of our heart."
I thought that was pretty powerful!
Have a great day
Amy

JasonWert
JasonWert

On Fringe last week, Walter was commenting on the dozen dead folks inside a train car who were just sitting there like they just suddenly died. He said that the human body doesn't just suddenly stop...it fights hard to get that last breath. It made me picture a body as it dies struggling, thrashing and kicking. I think pride and entitlement goes in much the same manner when we are trying to put it down. You stabbed it with a very large blade when you took that job...now it's thrashing and kicking.

(Yeah, I know, it's a gory image but I write crime fiction, ok?)
My recent post The mob moves into child prostitution

Ani
Ani

You're at a place I was before. I had a job I never wanted: Logistics. Was just not my thing but guess what : I ended up working there, at Logistics. I was disgusted. But I'm a person of prayer and I told the Lord from the beginning I wanted to do His will. "You're will be done in my life Lord, not mine. Mine passion is to do Your will". I might forget that once in a while but He doesn't. So everytime that I asked Him for another job He made clear to me to serve Him in that place. It was the darkest place I've ever been. I told Him I'm not a girl like that, but He made clear to me to stay and show Jesus. "Really, how am I supposed to do that, Lord?" Found out, it's not me. It wasn't me doing the work, it was Him doing the work. After a few years all of a sudden I had no projects anymore. I found out that they couldn't afford me anymore and wouldn't fire me otherwise they had to pay a lot of money. I asked the Lord if I could leave and He said "wait and trust in me". People just kept saying "you have to look for another job, for a job you like." Because I didn't leave they had to give me something to do. They gave me work nobody wanted to do, it was work with figures and numbers. Not my thing. It was demotivating. I got tired after a few months. My friends told me to thank Him and tell Him what I wanted. Because I was so tired spiritually I couldn't think of anything to ask Him. I really didn't know what I wanted. I told Him that I didn't know. After 18 months I was broken and cried out I couldn't do this anymore. I just dropped everything that was in my hands and said "that's it, now You tell me." I stayed home for a week. That week I asked the Lord why this had to take so long and why it had to hurt so much. He reminded me kindly that I told Him one year ago that I wanted to be a good soil for His seed, His Word, I want to have a noble and good heart, hear the word, understand it and bear hundredfold fruit. I was like: "O, so this is what's going on now? Okay Lord, go ahead, continue what you're doing." All of a sudden I had strength to go on. It took another 6 months and I was out of it. Don't ask me how, I just had the strength and knew it was good. I also knew at the end of it they were going to fire me and I was ready. I asked the Lord I wanted them to feel His peace. The day they told me I was fired they were amazed. I don't know what they saw or experienced but they were amazed that's all I know. I prayed all those years for this company and my colleagues, that His light will shine through this darkness. I loved my colleagues and wanted them to know my God too. I was a silence witness but they trusted me and whe had great time. After I was fired I asked Him if He could show me if it was worth all those years crying, praying and struggling, all the pain. The next Saturday I met my former colleague and she told me she accepted Jesus in her life as her Saviour. I couldn't believe it! It was amazing. And her daughter who was my colleague too asked questions about the church and God. She wants to come to the church too! They told me it was all about who I was and how I acted. They saw a person who believed in Jesus as the Son of God and could still have fun, always laughing, act crazy, tease and it was about being honest and kind, getting angry and say sorry. Really, that simple.
Now, I'm still unemployed but He's still working. Big things happened. Still looking for a job but in the meantime I'm voluntering. I help children in the age of 5-6 years after schooltime where it's the only place they hear about Jesus. I also want to volunteer at Compassion. All in all it's good. If I look back all this hurting it's nothing compared to all the good He's done in the work and lives of my colleagues. Really. I don't know now either what is coming but then if we knew it wouldn't be faith. I keep you in my prayers. I pray constantly for a couple of people and you are one of them.

Jaycee
Jaycee

Thanks for sharing this with us. It's encouraged me to see through the eyes of God even when He doesn't come the way I want Him to.

Allison
Allison

I'm sure I'm not the only one who raised my hand high in response to your question. About 2 months ago while I was crying out to God to heal my marriage after eight months of my husband coming back and forth, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper these words to me."Take heed. The road you must travel is long, rocky and steep. Restoration is coming." I immediately got off of my knees with excitement. I started telling everyone that my marriage was going to be restored because God told me so. A week ago today I walked out of a courtroom and my marriage was over. A few weeks before that I was given a book titled "Wounds That Heal" by Stephen Seamands. It's a great book that is a reminder that through our trials God has not abandoned us but, through Jesus, God enters our painful situations to bring healing and redemtion. In the very first chapter I read thses words:
"The road we must travel is indeed less traveled-a rough, risky road, not a smooth supersafe highway. To step onto that road is one thing; to walk that road until we arrive at the foot of the cross is another...From the moment we take our first step on that road to the moment we experience deep healing at the foot of the cross we are never alone. Step into any dark unknown place- his nail scarred footprints are already there. Better still, Jesus walks alongside us, encouraging our spirits. The further we journey, the more we discover the depth of his affection and tenderness toward us." It became clear to me in that moment that God's plan was not what I had in mind. This journey on the long, steep rocky road was not about my relationship with my husband but about my relationship with Him. It was my official Plan B moment and my dreams and ideas for my life, like yours, did not go quietly either. I argued with God, I reminded Him that He hates divorce. I reminded him of all kinds of things in His Word that completely contradicted what was happening. Two days before my court date I realized that my marriage was my idol and that God was willfully pulling the plug on it. It doesn't make sense. I don't understand some days why He has brought me here, but like the story of Joseph reminds me, God meant it for good. I'm living Plan B. I don't know where I'm going. I am just trusting Him to walk this road with me, to straighten me when my knees start to give out. As Pete Wilson says in Plan B it's time for me to learn to trust the only one who has ever had control in the first place. Sorry this is so long. I should start a blog of my own instead of taking over yours! :) You are not alone my friend. I'm praying for you. Have a great day!

jennyrain
jennyrain

Hang on...I've walked where you are and this valley you are in - it is SO worth it... you will come out the other side a different person... I know, because God gave me the exact same gift as He is giving you right now. The fact that you are entering into this season so incredibly teachable (which you are, whether you can see it or not)... and you are showing such a humble spirit... is a testimony to what God will be able to do in you...____I stepped out of an almost 2 decade training management career (this was my last day:http://jennyrain.wordpress.com/2006/12/22/endings... into first -a year without employment (HARD)... then stepped into full time ministry as a receptionist (even HARDER)... now I am an executive assistant (people like me used to WORK for me)... but I can tell you four years later, this is my DREAM job... ____Hang on... it is all worth it... I promise :) will be praying for you
My recent post The Chicken Truck

His Girl
His Girl

It amazes me how the Holy Spirit really moves in the lives of the church. You see our church is going through a series called stressed. (http://www.cschandler.com) Basically our plan A may not be God's plan A for us so we stress and fight it. Instead of releasing it and focusing on his plan A which many of us realize is our plan b. That being said Pete's book shows up in my mail. I see you and so many others learning this lesson as I am learning this lesson. I love seeing how he is focusing on us as individuals and as a church family as a whole. I am going through something that is painful. I'm just watching as God is showing me that what I thought was happening will not be. Very general but I'm in the throws of it and keeping it to me right now. Hurts really bad but I still trust. So thankful for your post this morning. i am so very proud of you for getting up and being obedient and going to this new job. I'm proud of you for realizing that God can use this and is using this in your life. Keep trusting, keep posting and I will keep praying for you.

Tia
Tia

Thanks for this Grant.

Chelsea
Chelsea

Wow...powerful post Grant. I had that feeling last year. I was in my first year of teaching. Let me back track a bit. I lost my mother and sister when I was 14. Before my mother died she was in her first year of teaching preschool and Kindergarten. I am a preschool teacher. So I started my first year last year in an inner city school. I hated my job. I hated getting up each morning. I didn't want to be there. I was ready to quit and do something else. I wondered why God had placed me in this position. I loved working with kids but was I doing this for my mother's sake and not my own? I was miserable and knew if I had to take one more year in that school, in that position I would quit and find something else completely. Then I got a phone call one day. A friend from college got a job in the district. I called the principal where she would be at, a principal I knew from student teaching and asked if I could work with this friend. I knew it would be a long shot but why not? Turns out my principal already knew we would work well together and planned on transferring me at the end of the year. Now I have a job that I hate to miss. I love every minute I get to spend with my students.
Grant, I am so thankful that you are sharing your story. I'm sorry it is such a difficult time for you. I'm praying God will continue to shape your heart and give you a peace, that He is in control. He knows what He is doing and He will guide you each and every day. Your job now may not be what you expected but God is preparing you and your heart and that will shape you to be the man God wants you to be. Don't give up! Know that He is there and He is in control.

lightchild
lightchild

Thanks, Dusty. Yes, that whole concept of God being after my heart, not my stuff, really messed me up. I PRAY that it continues to mess me up, and keep my heart in the right posture toward Him. Thanks for the comment, man.

lightchild
lightchild

indeed. patience and passion can often be at odds with one another. Thanks for the comment, bro. I'm eager to see the 6 month picture as well. :)

lightchild
lightchild

Wow. I love the visual I get when thinking about God being in "competition" with something else for our heart. This was strong stuff. Thank you for this.

lightchild
lightchild

Michael, I am just now getting a chance to go back and reply to folks, but I saw your comment as soon as you posted it, and your comment messed ME up. It's amazing to me how you can feel so alone and drifting, yet God uses those experiences to speak to someone else. Thank you so much for this, my friend.

JuliaKate
JuliaKate

and i second that about reading it this morning and getting shook up. it set the pace of my day. i have been in an attitude of gratefulness & a posture of sobriety & submission all day.

JasonWert
JasonWert

I second what Michael's saying about God really using you right now.
My recent post The mob moves into child prostitution

lightchild
lightchild

That's actually a GREAT visual, man. I think it's very fitting.

Grant Jenkins
Grant Jenkins

I love this, Ani. Not that I love the hard parts of people's lives, but I love how the themes of so many people's lives intersect and how we can learn from each other. Thank you so much for your prayers. It really means so much to me.

Grant Jenkins
Grant Jenkins

Thanks Jaycee. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

lightchild
lightchild

Wow, Allison. That is a power story. I really appreciate you sharing that here. There are a lot of us living our Plan B's right now, and discovering in new and varied ways the faithfulness of God in every situation. Thank you so much for your prayers, I am praying for you as well. And yes, you should start a blog! :)

Grant Jenkins
Grant Jenkins

wow, Jenny. Thank you for your kind words. You're a great encourager. That "tree torn between two worlds" piece you used on your blog is a powerful visual. Thank you for sharing this.

Grant Jenkins
Grant Jenkins

Thanks for your comment and for the encouragement! Hope the book is speaking to you as much as it is me.

Grant Jenkins
Grant Jenkins

Chelsea, thank you for sharing that part of your story here. I really appreciate it. I appreciate your encouragement.

Trackbacks

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  5. [...] and spending months trying to figure out what was happening in my life, I finally got hired and started a new job 7 weeks ago.  I’m thankful to have this job, but I applied and interviewed for jobs that [...]

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