You Call This An Open Door?

To blog or not to blog?

That is the question. It’s 2:33 a.m., and I just got home from work. My back hurts. My feet hurt. I feel like whining and complaining — profusely, but that would put me soundly in the camp of the Israelites who were not satisfied with being freed from slavery and complained their way through Exodus and Numbers.

It got so bad, Moses said to God, “Why do you treat your servant so badly? Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people? Was it I who conceived all this people? Or was it I who gave them birth that you tell me to carry them at my bosom, like a foster father carrying an infant, to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers? If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once so that I need no longer face this distress” (Numbers 11:11-12,15).

I would prefer not to be in the camp of those who tormented God’s servant this way, but it’s been one of those days — weeks, actually.

After six months of being unemployed, I was offered a job a couple weeks ago — working at a convenience store. I applied because (a) I want to stay in Custer and there aren’t a lot of jobs around here, (b) it’s diagonally across the street from my apartment, and (c) I’ve enjoyed working at convenience stores in the past. Too, as assistant manager, I would earn enough to cover my bills, and have some free time to engage in activities I enjoy.

Besides, I’d met with a Catholic counselor / spiritual director the week before I accepted the job and shared with her a deeply-seated fear — that I would make the wrong decision at this juncture in my life. When I left Pierre in 2006, a knot in the pit of my stomach told me I was making a big mistake. It took five years and two more moves to feel I was on track with my life again. I can’t help but feel I’m too old to waste another five years.

She suggested a simple prayer, “Lord, open the door you want me to go through and close all the rest.” I felt comfortable with this prayer because in September when I was attempting to discern what to do about a difficult work situation, I felt a quiet assurance that if I stepped out in faith, if I trusted God, he would lead me, going before me and opening doors.

So, I incorporated the prayer she suggested into my prayer life, repeating it throughout the day, and continued the tedious task of applying for jobs. Within days, the manager of the convenience store called to schedule an interview. During a brief interview, he more or less assured me the job was mine, but he also told me he wouldn’t be able to put me on the schedule until April 1. Since I will be leading a Lenten Retreat on March 30-31, I was comfortable with that.

The next morning, before I was even out of bed, he called to see if I would be willing to put in some training hours. I called back to tell him I would like that, and we scheduled a couple four-hour shifts, which proved to be fortuitous because we lost both of our graveyard employees within days. One simply stopped showing up for work and the other gave a two-week notice.

I’ve been filling in until at least one person is hired. In many ways, working the graveyard shift is an ideal learning situation. Because there is little traffic, the learning environment is low-key. By putting out stock, I’ve gotten a fairly good handle on what we carry. I’ve learned how to handle most of the transactions required on the register, including how to close it out at the end of a shift. I’ve also been able to do some cleaning to freshen up the place for this summer when tourist traffic will comprise a significant share of our customer base.

However, I’ve encountered a couple teeny, tiny problems. The first, obviously, is that after doing work which was primarily sedentary for years and years and years, I’m finding that being on my feet for eight consecutive hours is a challenge. For a day or so, I thought it was my age, but then I recalled waiting tables at a truck stop when I was 18. I had the same aches and pains then.

The other is actually a combination package — Michael, Jakie and Izzie, my cats. They do not adjust to change well and they are accustomed to a schedule which involves me getting out of bed around 7:30 or 8 a.m., scooping their litter, feeding them and then sitting down to prayer, an activity they are comfortable interrupting for a little TLC. Since I don’t get home until after 2 a.m, and then need to unwind a little before hitting the sack, I do not find getting up at 730 or 8 a.m. to be an attractive option at present.

Unfortunately, they seem to feel a moral responsibility to insist that I do rise and shine. At first, I thought food was the issue. They are accustomed to having Fancy Feast canned catfood at 8 a.m. daily. I assumed that despite the dry catfood that’s always available, they were hungry. However, I’ve tried feeding them before I go to bed with the same result — cat whiskers tickling my face, cat noses pushing their way under my hand in an effort to get a little TLC, and if all else fails, a hint of claw on bare skin.

As a result of their efforts to get me out of bed, I’ve not gotten more than four hours of sleep at any one time since I started working. Once I’m awake, I get up to work on the retreat, and afternoon naps are usually limited to an hour or two. By this morning, I was almost cross-eyed with exhaustiion, which probably explains why I entirely missed a step when I was leaving church after Mass. I ended up on my face with scraped and bruised knees, scraped palms and a back the feels like I was rearended in a car accident.

Is it a wonder I am tempted to question God about this door he opened? He obviously forgot I had cats. Or, perhaps there’s a lesson in this I haven’t learned yet. That’s more likely, I suppose, God being God.

But, I have to know, do you think God would consider it whining for me to ask for seven consecutive hours of sleep?

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