I took the bus when I was in high school. A lot of students had rides or drove a car, but I always took the bus. We were a one car family, and my dad worked 8 – 5, Monday through Friday.
We lived in an old brick farm house with an extremely long gravel road. The bus opened its doors to let me out, and I began the hike home.
It was a late fall afternoon, and the sun was beginning to set in the sky. I could feel a change in the air as I saw flowers begin to wither and leaves begin to brown. We were quickly losing the warmth of summer.
I had one final bend in the road, and when I turned the corner, I saw our family car in the driveway. It was the middle of the afternoon; the car was never in the driveway in the afternoon. Why was the car in the driveway? Something had happened. My heart began to pound.
I didn’t want to panic and run to the house, but mind was pushing my body and my feet moved quickly to the back stoop.
I pulled open the old, metal screen door and entered the small dining room area. Both of my parents were sitting at the large wooden table.
My dad looked up at me and told me to come in and sit down.
He stared at me for what seemed like five minutes.
“I was laid off today.” For a moment, my brain couldn’t process what “laid off” meant. Was it temporary? Would he get his job back? Was he fired?
“What does laid off mean?” I finally asked.
“They made cutbacks. They let about a dozen people go today.”
We had a family of seven—five kids in school, ranging from high school to grade school. My father’s paycheck was our sole source of income.
In all my years, I never sat alone with my parents at the dining room table. There was always the family. Always a lot of noise and activity. Always commotion. But now it was just us.
Being the oldest son, they wanted to sit and talk to me about what this meant.
I felt like our world was vanishing before my very eyes. Lost his job…no money…how do we eat?…what do we do?
Before I could say a word, my mother looked me in the eyes and said “It’s all right. God will take care of us.”
My dad smiled. “We’ll get by. We always do. We just have to have faith.”
At that moment, I discovered what it meant to be at a crossroad. It’s the moment when you make a decision on who you want to be and where you want to go.
“It won’t be easy,” my dad added. “That’s why we need your help.” He never told me what he needed me to do or what my responsibilities were, but I said yes, of course, whatever they needed.
And that was it. That was the end of the conversation.
Change came and knocked me off my feet, and my parents and their faith placed me upright.
They didn’t have to say a lot. They didn’t have to explain. They simply had to remind me that God was at the center of every moment of every day, and no matter what the world threw at us, God was there to protect us.
It was a lesson I never forgot. In fact, in a very weird way, I’m glad that my dad lost his job.
On that day, at that old, wooden dining room table, I learned what it meant to have true faith.
This month, theROCK is focused on Change.
Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of St. Dominic Parish Marketing Committee.