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A Place of Discomfort

Eric looked at his face in the vanity mirror as he knotted his tie. The face reflected in the mirror was that of a pleasant looking man in his mid-thirties with a small amount of gray beginning to show at the temples in his off black hair. Lines were starting to form at the corners of his deep brown eyes. More than the lines, it was the discontent reflected in those eyes that bothered him. He completed knotting his tie and walked into the bedroom to get his suit coat before joining his wife in the family room.

Together, they left out to drive to the very upscale restaurant where they were to have dinner with his parents. It wasn’t something that he was looking forward to doing.

“Your father is so excited and happy about the offer of a partnership for you in the firm”, his wife, Lenore, said to him as he drove.

“Yes, I know,” he said drily.

“You know how proud he is of you. After all, your brother is a great disappointment to him,” Lenore stated looking over at his tense countenance as he drove.

“Benjamin is a disappointment only to Dad. He doesn’t dance to Dad’s demanding tune. He does what he pleases, when he pleases and is a decidedly happy man. I envy him,” Eric commented without the contempt in his voice that his wife expected.

“Benjamin isn’t financially well off,” Lenore said to her husband.

"Yet, he pays his bills, runs a successful small business and doesn’t ask anyone for anything,” Eric retorted as he drove into the restaurant parking lot.

Eric said nothing as they entered the restaurant. He felt that Lenore would never understand his reluctance to accept the offered partnership at the firm. He was a highly successful agent of the firm. He cared about his clients’ interests and goals and they appreciated him. His current clients constantly sent him new clients. In the beginning he had worked regular hours and earned in the low to mid six figure earnings. He used to love his work. In the last three years, senior management in the firm had changed. They were all about the bottom line rather than what was best for the clients. They had brought questionable investment product packages into the firm and wanted the agents to push them. He now worked twelve to fifteen hours seven days a week. Although his earnings were approaching seven figures, he was no longer happy in his work.

At dinner, as he watched his father posturing and bragging about his, Eric’s, successes and demeaning his brother, Benjamin, he knew that he couldn’t speak to his father about his desire to quit his job at the firm rather than accept the offered partnership. He didn’t feel that he could even discuss it with his wife. His leaving the firm would mean possibly giving up their lavish home in the upscale neighborhood where they lived and Lenore returning to work. He was thinking of opening his own investment firm which would take a large portion of their savings. He knew that he would get no support from his father and he felt that Lenore wouldn’t support the idea either. Yet, he was very unhappy in his work and felt that soon his discontent would start to show up in his work with his clients.

Under normal circumstances, dinner with his parents could be considered a mildly pleasant experience. On this night his father verbosity about his successes and complaints about what he felt was Benjamin’s failure irritated him. Benjamin had a happy marriage and two beautiful children. To him, Eric, this was success. He felt that he and Lenore no longer communicated and where they had once talked about having children, the subject was now moot.

As he drove home from the restaurant, he thought back on what their minister had said in his sermon about grace in discomfort. The thought that discontent, discomfort and unhappiness could be signs from Spirit that it was time to make a change in your life had not occurred to him. The change had already been presented to him in his desire to open his own business. But, did he have the nerve to risk everything to accomplish the goal?

At home, he walked into the family room, stood for a moment, then sat down on the couch with a deep sigh.

“Eric, may I speak with you?” Lenore inquired coming into the room and taking a seat in the chair facing him.

“Of course. But why so formal?”, he replied.

“I know you think that I don’t notice your moods, but I do because I love you. You’ve been very discontent and unhappy for sometime now. You used to be so talkative about your job and there was a time when the offer of a partnership would have had you dancing with joy. So, talk to me.” Lenore told him.

“You’re right. I’m very unhappy with the firm and the people who run it. I’m already stretched to the limit and being a partner would make it worse. I don’t want to be a partner with them. I want more time to be a husband and a father. I want us to have that family that we once talked about.” he poured out his heart to her.

“Do you remember my cousin, Tyler?” she asked.

“Yes, he works for an investment firm in the capital.” he replied.

“He hates his job, too. He called and inquired if you might be interested in starting up an investment firm here in town with him. I said that I would tell you and let you decide.” Lenore said with a smile.

“You wouldn’t be upset? If I did that, there wouldn’t be a lot of money coming in at first.” Eric said to

“No, I wouldn’t be upset. I’ve been thinking about going back to work anyway. I’m bored doing nothing
and a family will come in time.” she said to him.

“My father is going to be very upset.” Eric stated.

“So what! It’s our life, not his!” Lenore said indignantly.

Eric smiled. It seems that discontent and discomfort spurred by Spirit had made them make the move for a better life for them both.

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