I had been praying about it for years.
Asking God to give my husband a new, better job. Pleading for him to have a career, something with growth opportunities and benefits and retirement and all the other stuff you’re supposed get when you are an adult and have an adult job.
Truthfully, I was also slightly tired of carrying the bulk of our family’s financial responsibility. I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t bitter and somewhat angry that just because I could start and finish something (college, twice) and Chris quit something (college, twice) I had to be the one doing all the heavy lifting.
So I prayed and prayed for job opportunities for Chris.
And finally in 2015, we heard from God.
Or at least we thought we did.
While on a short-term mission trip to do construction work with a neighboring church (and to see his BFF Aaron), Chris met a local Indy business owner who was also on the trip. They spent the week together and the man was impressed with Chris’ work ethic and offered him a job at his electrical firm.
Recap: Chris went on a mission trip to do the Lord’s work. He met a Christian business owner. The man offered him a job making more money and with better benefits.
It was almost too perfect and too cookie-cutter-good to be true.
After lots of conversations and prayer, we felt God was answering our prayers for a different job. So with trepidation and incredible gratitude to the small, family-run company Chris had worked with for fourteen years, he left exterminating and started work as an electrical apprentice.
As we settled into a different routine with longer hours, it became apparent very quickly Chris’ new boss was not what he seemed. He talked a really good Christian game, touted a Christian company, and knew all the right Jesus words to say while on a mission trip, but his real life was very, very different.
I’ve struggled with this story for a while now (well over a year), and I still hesitate to share parts that aren’t really mine to tell. I run a blog and share lots of things here, but what I share are my stories. I tell you my part, my truth, my experience. But this story isn’t all mine. I was a bystander for the majority of Chris’ work experiences, obviously. Telling you some things just feel gossip-y and not helpful so I’m walking a fine line.
Also, taking up space on the internet with a story about someone proclaiming to be a Christian and in actuality living the exact opposite of that is not really my thing. The last thing the world needs is ANOTHER story of a Jesus follower living an unauthentic life. We don’t need more of that. I don’t want more of that. But there is redeeming here. Not with the man, but with us–with the Chris and Mary Graham story–so I’m going to keep going. Even if I want to skip over this part a little.
Chris’ work environment–with this job we felt was an answer to our prayers–was full of bullying, verbal abuse, and uncertainty. Employees got fired on the spot for no apparent reason. The worksites were full of drug use and illegal behavior. The beginning of every work day was spent being cursed at and ridiculed and then sent out to your jobsite. It was a wearing and unhealthy environment. Chris was miserable. (Fun side story: One Friday a guy Chris worked with went home, got into a drunken fight with his roommate, and his roommate killed him. I think that paints a pretty vivid picture of this work environment.)
As we began to question his future with the company and what we felt God had led us to, Chris’ former boss reached out with some side work opportunities. He was short-staffed and offered Chris some work. Chris accepted and through a series of conversations, his old boss offered him his job back making more money.
It seems silly to say this now, but at the time, I was hesitant for Chris to return to exterminating. While we loved his company, his bosses (a husband and wife), and the perk of a company vehicle, I felt it was still a dead-end road. There was not room for growth, higher pay, or the things our family needed like health benefits and retirement options.
Chris and I made a deal that he could return to his old company if he enrolled in a local electrician school and continued to pursue his electrician’s license.
So in March of 2016, he went back to killing bugs. The change in his personality was almost instant. He was happier and nicer. He was more patient with our kids, and not physically and mentally exhausted all the time.
It was obvious how unhealthy the electrical job was once he got to step away from it.
What I didn’t understand is why we felt so strongly God was answering our prayers and then things turned out so, so badly.
But that’s for tomorrow.
(That title, huh? That will make more sense tomorrow too.)