-They are all around us.
I used to hear people talk about their encounters with the Holy Spirit and the remarkable miracles they experienced—most of which were near death experiences. What is this, I wondered? I was half curious, half suspicious. Growing up, my mom shared with everyone about her experience. She was driving my siblings somewhere, when her car miraculously landed in a church parking lot, when seconds prior, a car was about to T-Bone her car. She swore up and down, this was the Holy Spirit. There was nothing physical that could explain what should or could have been a fatal crash.
I continued living my life without recognizing any sort of miracle moments; wondering if I ever would. Over these last few years, however, I have begun to recognize miracles that have occurred in my life. No, mine were not necessarily life threatening, but they don’t have to be. Miracles are like a shift in perspective—from doom-and-gloom, to yin and yang. It is like finding gratitude for every moment in your life. The remarkable part is, the more gratitude you have, the more you become aware of the miracles occurring every moment in your life. Sometimes, life lessons are miracles in disguise. Sometimes we don’t recognize the miracles because we haven’t completed the entire experience. In these experiences, we don’t see the miracle until we are looking back in reflection. I will share with you the most profound one to date.
In August of 2013, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Florida State University. Like any recent grad, I started my job search almost immediately—In fact, I started a month prior to my graduation date. I’d always said, when I finished school, I was going to leave Tallahassee. Although my boyfriend was still in Tallahassee, I knew I needed to move. I wanted out of the party scene. Don’t get me wrong, it served its purpose when I went to school—perhaps a little toomuch, but the desire to move meant more to me. During a therapy session, my therapist told me, “You have seasonal depression,” encouraging me to explore other areas I may feel happier—so I applied to a ton of jobs in The Tampa Bay and surrounding areas. My heart was set on staying in Florida, but Jacksonville never appealed to me, Orlando was where my family was, and who wants to live where they grew up? –not this free spirit destined to find her independence. Miami was out of the question. I don’t like driving and I’ll be damned if you see me driving on a road with 5 lanes of traffic, full of fearless drivers. I’d be the car who you’d honk at assuming there was a 90-year-old person behind the wheel. No. No way. Still, I applied to jobs everywhere in Florida, including all the areas that were unappealing. Back then, and still today, having a job was something conditioned into your head. Get something, anything, or else you’re not going to make it, you’ll be unsuccessful, you could be poor, something is wrong with you… We will save those conditioned beliefs for a different blog post. For now, we are talking miracles.
I had probably applied to over 20 jobs to start, and had only been called for one interview. I remember the interview distinctly. First off, It was in Tallahassee—which was already against my heart’s desires. I went anyway because of those deeply engrained, conditioned beliefs I told you about. Remember those? Yeah… Part of their interview process was typing up my recommendations for a client vignette. Afterwards, the woman interviewing me informed me that the vignette wasn’t a fake client; it was actually a legitimate past client, and that client had only been required to attend two monthsof treatment. I remember my recommendation was closer to six months of treatment, and I knew at that moment, the job wasn’t for me. You see, I previously interned in an Intensive Outpatient Setting, so I was aware that two DUIs in less than a year was more serious than two months of treatment. I understood addiction, and two months of treatment sent the message that this place had no idea the extent or the severity of addiction. I’m in the business of helping people, after all, not putting a band aid on the problem. So I kept applying to other jobs.
Then one day, out of nowhere, I received a call from a 727 area code. I answered. A woman, Heidi, introduced herself and the organization for which she worked. She said, “We received your application and I wanted to speak to you about your application.” I couldn’t hear the name of the organization when she’d introduced herself, so I had no idea what she was talking about, but I went with it anyways. I’m not going to oust myself in a phone interview. What I gathered was this: She was the Program Director of a men’s court ordered residential treatment program. “Do you know what a therapeutic community is?” she asked. “No,” I responded. “Well, there is information online…” and she began to share with me some of the therapeutic community concepts. I was in love. It sounded so exciting. She told me the men were in treatment anywhere from 12-18 months. Perfect, I thought. She asked me the typical interview questions, and then asked me to come in for an interview. We scheduled the interview, she gave me the address, and that was that. We got off the phone, and I sat. Great. I was full of excitement, but there was one tiny problem. I didn’t know the name of this place, or how they had received my application for a position I never applied to. It’s probably important to note that I kept track of all the positions I had applied for. I did not apply to any residential programs. But, I knew I wanted to work there. Next, I did what any applicant would do before an interview, I researched the organization. Well actually, I had one extra step, since I had no idea where I was going, or what organization was going to interview me: I googled the phone number and the address. WestCare Foundation. There it was. WestCare: my potential employer.
Needless to say, after two interviews, I didn’t get the position, or any phone calls. I called Heidi to follow up, nothing. No response. Bummer, I thought. Until one day, I received another call from WestCare. Only this time, it was for their women’s program. The woman I spoke with received my information from Heidi. Well, I thought, at least she put in a good word. I had one interview with the other two therapists, and I was hired on the spot. I did the background check, the drug screening, the whole Human Resources process. I was officially an employee at WestCare. I was so nervous. I reached out to my old IOP (intensive outpatient program) supervisor. He gave words of encouragement, but it didn’t alleviate the fears. The only thing that helped me overcome my fears was letting life unfold. I will remain forever grateful for the miracle moment, that first phone call. It was like the Universe, God, whatever you call a power greater than yourself, put the job in my lap for a reason. A Course In Miracles says that life occurs horizontally, but miracles occur vertically. These vertical shifts help us learn life’s lessons more quickly. If I hadn’t received that random phone call, I wouldn’t have worked in a therapeutic community. If I hadn’t worked in the therapeutic community, then I wouldn’t have understood the problems in community-based programs. And, If I hadn’t worked in a therapeutic community, then I wouldn’t have known a solution existed for community-based programs. All things occur in our lives for a greater purpose. We may not understand them today, but our future selves will understand. Today, I know that the program I have envisioned, is a gift I couldn’t have imagined had I not received that call from a 727 area code. If I had not worked with the women I worked with, I would not have seen where the problems began. Had I not known where these problems began, I wouldn’t have been passionate about prevention efforts in the community. I wouldn’t have been led me to my second job, and so on and so forth. I don’t have the business plan created, or the logistics, but I hold this dream close to my heart because I believe in miracles.