Sunday, January 25, 2015

Kevin's Job and Associated Musings

Kevin has a PhD in materials science and engineering (and actually, I do too. We met in graduate school.)  He's been an Air Force employee for more than 20 years now, which is amazing given that he is only 44 :-). The Air Force actually sent him to graduate school and paid his way, with the agreement that he would work for 15+ years after his PhD.

His work situation is really good, in many ways. The Air Force has many fine people in it.  His job is secure, well paid (relatively speaking -- he makes a lot, though would make more in industry), and he has quite a bit of vacation and sick leave.

He has moved around within the materials directorate of the local Air Force base, which is the center of materials research for the Air Force.  A few months ago, he took on a new and very strenuous, stressful job.

The first couple of months were exhausting but he learned a lot. Then, without going into details, things "went south."  There were some personality conflicts and the job became extremely onerous. The new job required some extra hours at times, which was challenging with our large family plus a month's worth of illness.

Over the last couple of weeks, the opportunity arose for him to seek a new position.  And he is.  So...this has been a stressful time, though it is good that he is moving in a new direction.  For now, he has his old, stressful job AND the additional challenge of finding the best new position.

In all this, he won't lose his job at the Air Force.  In all of this, he is able to come home each evening -- worn out, at times, but home.  There are many serving overseas who don't have that luxury. There are many husbands and fathers who have to travel and don't see a wife and children for days at a time.

I think we've both struggled with fatigue and frustration the last couple of months. It would be nice if life "went well."  It would be nice if work relationships were solid and good, and if we were always healthy.

I know I am tempted, many times, to sort of "blame" a victim.  And I say that with trepidation, because it is a jerky thing to do.  I don't do it consciously, usually.  Let me explain that by blaming a victim, I mean I mentally assign some reason why something bad happened to him or her.

So for example, if I read of  a young college woman being date raped after getting drunk at a fraternity party -- I have sympathy with the victim and am angry at the rapist, but I also mentally think, "Well, that wasn't the smartest thing to do, to get drunk at a frat party."  And it isn't that smart.

Part of the reason I want to assign blame is that it feels like it protects me and our family.  I think (at some level), "Well, if we just avoid doing something foolish, we'll be safe from bad things happening."

There is a correlation between wise behavior and good things happening.  But it isn't absolutely linear. The reality is that some people act foolishly and things turn out well.  For that matter, I've done dumb things in my life and God thankfully watched over me.

Sometimes people do the right thing and bad things happen. I recently read a harrowing book about Chinese Christians in China who have suffered tremendous persecution for the sake of the gospel.  They are following Jesus, and they are suffering.  Jesus said it would happen. It does happen.

Various people have suggested that our family's frequent illnesses in winter are tied into how we eat, etc.  And they may even be right. I've gotten as calm as possible about being sick in winter.  We usually are healthy in spring, summer, and fall, but winter is hard.  It isn't like everyone is sick for a month. It is that it takes SO STINKING LONG for everyone to get THROUGH an illness :-).

This job thing is frustrating too.  Kevin has worked hard and it hasn't been particularly good or fulfilling lately.

Life happens.  Things are hard sometimes.

There was an old, relatively uneducated man who once said he read Revelation and understood it.  When challenged, he said, "Well, I've read the end and we win."

Yep, we win -- Jesus will come back, and will reign.  His children will go to Heaven and live a life without tears or pain.

This life is full of challenge, and that's Ok.  I don't like pain and struggle, and that's good (no one should be a masochist!)  But I also need to embrace and be at peace with struggle, because life is hard.

As Wesley from the Princess Bride said, "Life is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something!"

From Revelation to the Princess Bride!  I think I'm going in the wrong direction in terms of absolute truth.  I'm done.  God bless you all.

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