The Game-Changing Conversation
“I want you to say it,” Mimi said.
“I can’t,” I replied.
“I need you to say it,” she insisted.
Mimi and I were staring across the basin water at the Washington Monument. The Jefferson Memorial was behind us with several people walking by at distance. I couldn’t let myself make such a big, drastic decision. For the past several months I had been miserable at work. It was a great organization with good people, but my title and my role was not meant for me, my personality, nor my skill sets. I was getting paid pretty well for someone my age, but I was doing long hours which included a lot of weekends. It felt like every month I was breaking down---my hands in my face, water we’ll call tears dropping while alone in my office, alone in my car, or alone in my apartment. Falling apart frequently like this was unusual for me, as I’m used to doing well in other areas and work in my life. The worse part of the job was that it left me with no time to do what I was really passionate about: writing and mentoring men. To complicate things more, this was all taking place months before our wedding.
“I want to marry a happy Matt,” my fiancé continued. “I don’t care about the money. We’ll make it work. Especially because you do know what you want to do. This next year is the year to try and do it. And then we’ll figure it out when next year comes.”
I looked at Mimi and I couldn’t have loved her more than up to that point in our relationship. She was essentially giving me permission to do what’s best for me, although it meant the unknown for both of us. I wouldn’t have been able to make such a decision were it not for her love and care for me.
“But I need you to say it,” she said.
“OK…” I began.
“I’m going to…” I started again.
“Going to what?” she said, staring intently at my eyes.
“I’m going to…I’m going to…I’m going to quit my job.”
It was as if a 300-pound man had stopped pressing down against my shoulders. I felt so free. So liberated.
“I want you to say it again,” she said smiling.
“I’m going to quit my job…I’m going to quit my job…I’m going to quit my job!”
It sounds reckless, but we did have a plan. We would choose to live simply living under a tight budget with Mimi’s salary and part of our savings for the next year while I got to fully have time for what I truly desired to do: writing and mentoring men. In fact, I had spent many months before writing on my blog about the importance of men being fully alive. I had to realize that if I wanted to authentically keep giving that advice, I had to start taking it for myself.
I know Our Father must have been approving our decision because months later, literally after we came back from our honeymoon, a friend told me about Centro Tepeyac, a crisis pregnancy center that was looking to fill a position. When my director Mariana found out I write about men becoming the best versions of themselves, she hired me on the spot to become a men’s mentor for boyfriends who come to the center with their pregnant girlfriends. I now help prepare guys for fatherhood and it’s one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. The following month I gave a talk at the Catholic Student Center at University of Maryland when the director, Fr. Rob, who impressed with my talk, said he had been looking for a men’s campus minister. He asked if he could hire me. I now get to help college guys figure out their lives and run all-guy events that have included cigar nights, poker games, and men’s breakfasts appropriately called ManFest. And this was all happening while I got time to write for books I plan to later publish.
Twenty weeks ago, Mimi and I joyfully found out we are expecting a baby in January. Although we were ready financially, we knew it will be tight. Then randomly I got an e-mail from ibelieveinlove.com, an awesome blog that produces real stories about real love and real relationships. They said they’ve liked what I’ve been putting on here at catholicfriedrice and asked if they could hire me to write weekly posts for men on their blog. We came up with a Monday series for guys called “The Heart of Manliness.” Wow! I now get compensated to write, too? God is amazing.
|August 10, 2013|
The Game-Changing Covenant
Mimi and I have joked several times this year that were we to win the lottery, we would pay off loans and buy a house, but otherwise keep our lifestyle and our jobs because we’re so happy with what we do. She’s a passionate math teacher and last night she came home beaming how she just got to explain a complicated Calculus concept. Nerd :).
What I’ve learned from this past year’s experience is that if we men have a burning passion, we have to follow it and trust success will come. I learned I’m incredibly blessed to have had a woman in my life who supported such a leap of faith. I had to learn that no amount of money is worth sacrificing living a fully alive, purposeful life. I had to learn that me being the man I’m meant to be allows me to best be present physically, emotionally, and spiritually for my wife. I remember what she said on that Spring day last year.
“You doing this is not only best for YOU, but best for ME, too,” she said. “Because it’s best for US.”
And because so, she got to marry a happy man.