March 21, 2011

When Michael Prays for Money II

If you've seen this, you know what happens when I pray for money.

To make a long story short, my second career hasn't gone as expected, and since December I've been praying for $10,000 to help tide me over.

Guess what amount my boss offered me a few weeks ago, unsolicited, when I gave him my resignation?

this theme began in 1988, about one year after I graduated from UT and took a job in Washington, D.C.

I had underbid myself when I accepted this, my first employment offer, and within days of arriving in the nation's capital I realized I'd have to drop my car insurance so as not to run a growing deficit. To cope with the crunch, I cashed more than half my paychecks every two weeks and sorted the dollar bills into envelopes, alloting $6 a day for lunch and other sums for gas, groceries, and (hah!) dating.

So you can imagine how high I jumped when, nine months later, I was offered a job 120 miles away for 35 percent more money.

I'd trade it all just to be free of the monthly finance charge
But I couldn't escape a load of credit-card debt from various costs I hadn't anticipated. Plus, landlords in that part of the country demand full payment up front of your first and final month's rent plus the security deposit, which always equals one month's rent. I arrived in Wilmington, Delaware, with no cash cushion and a marinade of $1,500 in red ink—no small sum for an entry-level employee.

When I did the math, I could see no scenario where I'd get out of hock in less than two years—an eternity to a 23-year-old. My new boss had provided me with niceties I hadn't expected, like a walnut desk and leather chair in my own basement office with a computer full of the most advanced software I could think to request. But as I looked out over these luxuries, I realized I'd be willing to trade it all just to breathe again—free of the finance charge that bit a hole in my wallet every month, and did nothing for me in return.

I felt cornered. And although I wasn't very religious—I hadn't gone any further than to give my earnest, intellectual assent to God's existence—I felt, for the first time, completely dependent on him.

In that corner of the basement, behind my massive desk, I knelt and prayed to a God I knew was there but didn't know how to approach. I asked him for money, any amount, just something to help me get out of this dreadful muck of indebtedness.

The moment I stood and straightened my slacks, my boss strode into my office with a handful of envelopes, from which he extracted one and handed it to me, grinning. The look on my face conveyed my question.

"That's your bonus," he said. "Everybody gets one."

He shook my hand and zipped off to the next person's office.

This deserves a bit more explanation.

I had accepted an offer of employment with his personal, nonprofit corporation. His real job was heading a multibillion-dollar investment house, with a mutual fund and portfolios including the Nobel Foundation's. Guys on the floor above me bought and sold stocks each day for clients including some of the East Coast's richest investors, including more than one named DuPont. They created millions of dollars in wealth and took home decimal points of that, which was more than enough to keep them in big houses and high-end, imported sedans. All I had in common with them was a business address.

Yet, something compelled our mutual boss to cut me a "bonus" check after two months on the job. I remember, as if it were five minutes ago, sitting down to read the figures on the green safety-paper: $1,500.

The carpet beneath me still bore the imprint of my knees.

still, it isn't easy for me to pray, even when I know it works.

Prayer requires me to acknowledge that I don't have control of the situation. Try starting your day with that as your first thought. And yet, the best time to pray is a the beginning of the day, before the noise and ego get a running start inside one's head.

And with that thought, I'll move along and wait for my next prayer to be answered.

Posted by: Michael Rittenhouse at 09:05 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 736 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Perfect

Posted by: td at May 27, 2011 07:53 PM (w7TI0)

2 Beautiful story.  And great AoS post tonight.

Posted by: rickl at July 28, 2011 06:51 PM (1CfwK)

3 Michael, I can SO relate!!  I "stop by" once in a while and I am still hooked.

Posted by: Liliana at November 08, 2011 08:00 AM (GCL0+)

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