It’s hard to find answers when you’re frightened and fumbling in the dark. It’s hard to be humbled. It’s hard to admit that you have no answers and that you are lost, that you have hit a mental brick wall. But it is only at that moment of near hopelessness, when you are down on your knees, that you can look up and begin to see a glimmer of light, of hope. Sometimes it’s hard to even recognize hope when it arrives. It may be disguised as a casual remark, tossed in our direction by a friend, by a relative, or even a stranger. It may be an understanding pat on the back or something you heard on the radio. It may be a bubble of an idea that pops to the surface after days or even months in your subconscious. But help will come if you ask, if you are patient, and if you listen hard enough.
This is what happened to me not long ago when my dear friend Susan called and mentioned a news story she had read in USA Today about jobs that will be in demand through this decade and beyond. I almost didn’t want to hear more advice that wouldn’t get to the root of my problem–I needed to a job, a good job that would help recoup some of our losses after the stock market tsunami in 2008. For months I had searched for work in higher ed and publishing, but had only managed to land an adjunct teaching job on weekends at a college 1 hour away from home. By then, I had finally faced reality–that my employment options and skill set were both limited and out-of-sync with the current job market realities.
During that call, Susan gave me a gift, one that I was finally ready to hear. She suggested that I become an instructional designer. Back then, I had no idea what an instructional designer was or did. For all I knew, the job involved designing covers for textbooks. Susan read the description in the newspaper aloud to me. “It says here they design and create online courses. You can do that,” she said with complete confidence. I was less sure. “You think so? Well, maybe I can,” I replied.
Her idea was a spark, which was fanned by my husband, who expressed the same confidence, enthusiasm and unshakable faith that I could take this idea and turn it into reality. If I hadn’t been humbled by rejection and completely at a loss for answers, I might have never heard the wisdom of their suggestions.
This is what Lizz Wright is singing about in the song “In from the Storm.” In it, she is thanking the man who had faith in her when she needed it the most, who healed her after a foolish episode of love. By way of contrast, you might want to listen to the song as it was performed originally by Jimi Hendrix. I’ve played both versions, and I was stunned by the way each artist expressed the song in totally unique ways.