Eyes and Ears by Will Thomson, JSN Board Member + President of Bullseye Recruiting

Do you have eyes that see and ears that hear?

This year has been a great and a tough year all at the same time for me. I turned 50 this January and have done some things that I never thought I could ever do.  I was completely out of shape at the end of 2022 and couldn’t have run more than a 5k (on a good day!). I set my mind to getting in shape (and losing a few extra holiday pounds) and I have run TWO half marathons this year!! My family and I went to Costa Rica recently and my kids wanted to take a surf lesson. Wanting to be the cool parents, my wife and I took a lesson too. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be able to surf, yet I got up on the board on the first try. It was exhilarating! There are many other blessings that have happened, but those are some personal highlights.

On the flip side of some great personal triumphs, business has been really challenging this year. There were moments as a small business owner and a provider that I was really having a difficult time and struggling mightily. I know I am not alone. With this blog, I am being vulnerable in my honesty with the hope that someone else struggling might find light in their darkness.

In about May of this year, I was truly at my breaking point. I had been hiding my stress and everything that I was feeling from everyone. I tried to hold everything in as long as I could. As an anxiety riddled individual, I knew I needed an outlet, or panic attacks were going to set in.  I had been down that road before and that is not something I wanted to have happen again. It was miserable.

I was prideful and thought I could do everything on my own. When I started experiencing chest pain (and a 2-day visit to the ER) and sleepless nights, I knew I couldn’t manage this stress on my own. Amid this pain, I cried out to God asking HIM why bad things were happening? Not only some things in MY personal and professional life, but my friend whose wife was dying, my friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer and others who had been out of work for a very long period of time due to the economic downturn. In my desperation, I finally asked HIM for help. Looking back, I am ashamed of I didn’t reach out to God sooner.

I remember one day specifically that I must share. It still shakes me to the core every time I think about it. I was swimming and talking with my wife and son. All of a sudden, a white winged dove appeared. The odd thing about this is that we really don’t have doves in our backyard.  We have a lot of squirrels, cardinals, and other birds, but not doves…ever.  The dove perched on the fence and looked at us for 3 full minutes. We joked about it and wondered why it wouldn’t leave. Eventually, our dog, Maggie, barked and it took off. This dove has revisited the same part of the backyard a few times since that day.

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I went on about my evening, and I kept thinking about that dove.  Why was it there?  Why did it sit perfectly still on the fence for such an unusually long time? What was the significance of that dove?  I did a Google search on the meaning of seeing a dove and I was absolutely brought to tears. In Christianity, doves are seen as messengers from God and a sign of the Holy Spirit.

I knew at that moment God was talking to me. He heard me crying out to Him. He heard my frustration; he heard my plea for help. Even if things weren’t going to go the way I wanted them to go in all the things that were troubling me, somehow, I knew that things were going to be okay. I felt a sense of peace knowing He is with me in all of it.

Matthew 3:16 talks about John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.  It goes on to say:As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

So, doves do represent something!!

Fast forwarding to today, some incredible God given things have happened. I have seen God’s hand directly in some things that have happened in the past month. I wasn’t expecting them, nor do I feel I deserve them. They just happened.

I am still experiencing heartache and I am not immune to stress and anxiety. I wish I could pray cancer away. I wish my friend’s wife didn’t die. I wish it were as easy as talking to God and everything would be perfectly solved to my liking.

As we go about our days, it is easy to be consumed with our lives. We don’t seem to look around, we don’t listen. We don’t seem to see what is all around us.  God has a plan for all of us. It is never on our time schedule, and it often doesn’t happen the way you expect it to happen, but He is with us, loving us always.

Remember, it is through the tough times that we grow the most.

Matthew 13: 11-12,  “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

Listen.  Ask questions.  Ask for help.  We all need it!

Job Seekers Network can be that place of community for you in a difficult season, whether you are unemployed, nervously employed or simply seeking to live a more purposeful life. Join an upcoming meeting for encouragement, support, and practical job search tips: https://www.jsnatx.org/training/calendar/