Friday, April 04, 2008

A Living Nightmare.

This is what I would call the story of my life. The recurring nightmare of "almost" but "not quite". I just got finished (it would appear) with trying and failing to buy a business. This follows on the heals of trying, but failing to buy a house which is minor by comparison but the long string of "trying but failing" stretches back as far as I can remember, it's exhausting. Even the narrow area of theological specialty I have fallen into doesn't seem to win me a lot of favor. Why for instance couldn't I be more enamored of tithing issues?

When I was a child I had recurring nightmares which in retrospect, appear prophetic. In fact I cannot as an extreme "Predestinarian" or "Hyper Calvinist" regard them now as anything but instructive. Nothing, including my dreams, occurs without God's divine planning. So here's the dream:

God bless "Chung-he" be he living or dead at this time, most likely the latter, for he is the raging demon of these dreams and I cannot say that his real life exploits earn him the role of the monster of my bad dreams. Chung-he was the mission compound chauffeur. The missionaries of the late 50's and 60's in South Korea for the most part lived on compounds. Vehicles were communal, there was a garage keeper/chauffeur/mechanic, that was Chung-he's job. In my dream I would always be minding my own business, riding a bike, playing, or walking somewhere. Regardless of where that place would be, very shortly afterwards Chung-he would show up driving one of the missions vehicles, and attempt to run over me with it. These dreams continued I believe for a period of several years and only ceased after I was able to engage in a bit of "directed dreaming". All of this occurred prior to my 11th or 12th birthday if I am recalling correctly. Eventually the dream ended when I was familiar with it enough to realize that I was dreaming, while I was dreaming, and I was rational enough in that moment to know that I would not die in a dream and I allowed Chung-he to run over me. That was amusing enough since nothing happened and I felt no pain. After that the dreams ceased.

Without naming names as I am held to some confidence in this matter, I tried to buy a General Store/Residence and some acreage. My wife has diligently worked on the numbers with spreadsheets for about 2 months, and we've met with Small Business Development. It was all very educational. We've be in love with this particular business for a variety of reasons for 12 years. It came on the market 3 years ago, we made our first exploratory offer a year ago and we tried in earnest to buy it beginning in February of this year. A number of events made it clear that God wanted me to investigate the possibility but as always we never know where God is leading us simply because we think the purpose of his leading is to buy a house, buy a business, go here or there etc, and do business. I was talking with a good friend recently and described it this way. Imagine that we are all small children in shopping cart's being wheeled around the grocery store. Mom turns up the candy aisle so we think we're going to go get candy. All our desires have been focused that way, all the doors are opening, but it turns out mom is going to that way because it's the shortest way to broccoli. The kid in the cart is depressed, angry, outraged, but fails to consider that he can't see the big picture. Namely this was a short cut to the produce department.

God's ways are not our ways. I am very clear on that. I don't know how many times though I have to keep learning this lesson, if I am aware of it. A human being normally takes directions in a world absent the clearly miraculous from signs like "Turn left here" or "Stop" or "Take a number and wait". The only message I can get from any of this is that I am not destined to be successful in any way. My sister is backed by my parents in a frame shop venture with her touchy feely impractical and now ex husband. The business failed and the franchisor went banko. I pay for my own college, other siblings are seen through the whole experience on Dad's tab. I get married, have kids, buy my own house without help, twice. For the rest of the kids parents on either side of the equation have stepped in to assist them. My first wife wants out of our marriage, wins everything in the divorce proceedings including the house and so on. I never "cheated" on her, and gave her no cause for divorce. That's the way it goes.

Which brings us to the present day. I have not owned a home for almost 13 years. I have fought through a series of personal disasters not including the divorce and come out breathing on the others side but severely damaged. My only natural son is a jail bird, my two step children are unfortunately (for my own children's sake) more children to me. I was banking a lot on getting this business for a variety of reasons.

My second wife, who is very dear to me is a private person. She is good with numbers, she loves to organize, she loves the mountains (which is why we are here) and I love her very much. The business we were trying to buy afforded us the opportunity to satisfy all of those wants and desires. It would have been a good retirement (God willing) and I would have had the security of something that I couldn't get fired from if in fact I take my controversial views on the road someday. In the stop and start process of writing the book I am writing, one of my great fears is that my employer would find out, and away I would go.

I could offer my wayward son a place to work and stay away from trouble if he ever gets his life straigtened out. I would have a place for all the children, mine and those I regard as mine to come for the holidays. I wanted all these things with all my heart and the doors just kept opening for me. For instance, the very day I showed one investor (a family member) the business, the seller who did not know we visited, dropped the price by 22%, there was an email waiting to that effect at home when we returned. We hadn't heard from the realtor for about a year, but there it was, a door opening and the doors continued to open right up until yesterday and today where I had the last ones slammed tight in my face. All the things I had dared to hope for in this material word, that seemed to be coming my way, gone.

And so here I am , at 54, with less than nothing. I owe more than I'm worth. My balance sheet doesn't go positive unless I die. The profession I have chosen in life is off a bit. I suppose if GM isn't making money, I shouldn't expect to either, and now my greatest feat of daring, has ended in defeat again. Just as it always does. My dream is just like my nightmare. Without a vision, the people perish.

So, how is this like the dream? Disaster always pursues, and always catches up with me. It's almost personal. If it were a movie it would be like that train scene where Leslie Nielsen is chased by the train, as if it had it in for him.

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