Planting Flags: A Post 13 Years In The Making.

13 years ago today, I put this on the platform formerly known as Twitter:

This tweet is going to be a reference point in the future for me when I recall the days I’d sleep in my car in between jobs.

March 15, 2011

I would show up at 4:45 AM to open the Starbucks, and hang my upper body out of the drive-through window distracting people from the 5 minutes their drink was taking to prepare.

Usually by 8AM or so, even my brain would be fooled into believing that I was enjoying the day. Some days I’d volunteer to go wash the dishes, making a game out of it to distract myself from the pain in my legs.

On 3 or 4 special occasions that year I’d splurge and get a biscuit from the Biscuitville next door on my break.

When the metaphorical whistle blew at the coffee shop (around 1:30 PM) I’d change into an AT&T shirt and tie and drive across town in my blue minivan to the cell phone store.

(The perk of a minivan, see, is that you can climb in the back seat and nap without as many people seeing you.)

I’d grab a 30-minute nap and then plaster on a happy face (against my will!) and go sell phones, home internet, and bluetooth speakers to folks until 8:00 PM. It wasn’t willpower so much as a borderline dangerous amount of espresso (carried with me from job 1) that helped fuel my good mood standing up all evening.

Two young kids (Theo would have been rounding the corner toward 7 months old, and Benjamin was chugging with Thomas the Tank Engine toward his 3rd birthday in just a couple months) at home, I legit felt like God had dropped me off at the curb and went to hang out with my friends without me.

I was what felt like about a decade behind my peers who had left college directly into the business world, and truthfully still just wanted to be in full-time ministry. I just couldn’t find anyone to pay me to do that.

So I sold coffee and phones, and in my spare time wrote a blog that I hoped would catch on (it didn’t) and made websites for a handful of friends who loved me enough to pay me a little bit for my time. I mostly did a good job of hiding how tough things were.

I’m so glad I wrote that tweet above, like a flag hammered into the dry ground.

My choices were either to give up (but what does that even mean?) or to plant that flag that despite much evidence to the contrary, life was going to get better. Or—maybe more accurately—that life didn’t feel like it could get much worse. There’s a good chance I had tears in my eyes when I tapped that tweet into my phone before sliding the van door open.

That nearly 31-year-old stepping out of his van and checking to make sure he had his AT&T magnetic name tag would not believe the story of the next 13 years if you told him.

First he wouldn’t believe that the worst was yet to come. (Heads up that 2013 is the actual floor of your vocational life, past-Ben)

He’d chuckle at the thought of living in South Carolina, and it would roll into a full-scale belly laugh if you told him he was going to purchase his wife’s childhood home.

He’d certainly not believe that God was going to give him another shot at being a dad to a little-bitty one via foster care that turned into adoption.

No chance in the world he’d believe that his kids would grow up in a small town going to baseball games where he’d be slinging hot dogs for the Booster Club at the concession stand.

He might’ve believed the bit about a pivot to technical support, but there’s just no way you’d convince him that he would become the Director of Technical Support for 5 highly popular WordPress product brands, overseeing nearly two dozen team members (who are so much fun to work with he has trouble ending some meetings because everyone’s having a blast and laughing).

Everything in life is certainly not perfect (nor will it be this side of eternity), but gosh I’m glad to see where God’s taken us since I half-heartedly planted that flag 13 years ago.

Note to self: keep planting the flags, and I dunno, maybe start believing that God has never taken his hand off the wheel for a second?