I graduated from college a while ago, and I’m having a lot of trouble trying to figure out what to do next. The job I have now is enough to pay the bills, but It isn’t what I want to do forever. Every time I apply for a position I’m really interested in I fall just short of being accepted. Some of my friends and family have suggested that I wait, but I’m beginning to lose hope that I’ll ever find out what it is I want to do, or that the Lord has any sort of purpose for me. Do you have any advice?
Hopeless in Utah
Hopeless in Utah
I am reminded of a short story I heard on the radio some years ago. Please let me share it with you, then I’ll talk myself.
Better Late Than Never
He is lying there in the grass, hiding and thinking. He has studied the little girl’s habits. He knew she would come outside her grandfather’s house mid-afternoon to play.
He hated himself for this.
In his whole, miserable, messed-up life he’d never considered anything so callous as kidnapping. Yet there he was, lying in the grass, hidden by trees from the house, waiting for an innocent, red haired, two-year-old girl to come within reach.
It was a long wait. There was time to think.
Maybe all his life Harlan had been in too much of a hurry. He was five when his Hoosier farmer daddy had died. At fourteen he dropped out of Greenwood School and hit the road. He tried odd jobs as a farm hand, hated it. Tried being a streetcar conductor and hated that. At sixteen he lied about his age and joined the Army…and hated that too. When his one-year enlistment was up, he headed for Alabama and tried blacksmithing and failed.
He became a railroad locomotive fireman with the Southern Railroad. He liked that. Figured maybe he had found himself. At eighteen he got married, and within months, wouldn’t you know she announced she was pregnant the day he announced he’d been fired again?
Then one day , while he was out job hunting, his young wife gave away all their posessions and went home to her parents.
Then came the Depression.
Harlan couldn’t win for losing, as they say. He really tried.
Once, while working at a succession of railroad jobs, he tried studying law by correspondence. He dropped out of that, too. He tried selling insurance, selling tires. He tried running a ferryboat, running a filling station. No use.
Face it, Harlan was a loser.
And now here he was hiding in the weeds outside Roanoke, Virginia, plotting a kidnapping. As I say, he’d watched the little girl’s habits, knew about her afternoon playtime. But this one day, she did not come out to play, so his chain of failures remained unbroken.
Late in life he became chief cook and bottle washer at a restaraunt in Corbin. And did all right until the new highway bypassed the restaraunt. And then his expected life span ran out.
He’s not the first man nor will he be the last to arrive at the twilight of life with nothing to show for it.
The bluebird of happiness, or whatever, had always fluttered just out of reach.
He’d stayed honest, except for that one time when he had attempted kidnapping. In fairness to his name it must be noted that it was his own daughter he’d meant to kidnap from his runaway wife. And they both returned to him, the next day, anyway.
But now the years had slid by and a lifetime was gone and he and they had nothing.
He had not really felt old until that day the postman brought his first Social Security check. That day, something within Harlan resented, resisted, and exploded.
The Government was feeling sorry for him.
You had all those hitless times at bat, the Government was saying, you’ve had it. It’s time to give up and retire.
His restaraunt customers in Corbin said they’d miss him, but his Government said sixty-five candles on the birthday cake was enough. They sent him a pension check and told him he was “old”.
He said “Nuts.”
And he got so angry he took that $105 check and started a new business.
21 years later, that business was prospering and at age eighty-three, so was he.
For the man who failed at everything save one thing…the man who might have been a law-breaking kidnapper had he not also failed at that…the man who never got started until it was time to stop…was Harlan Sanders. Colonel Harlan Sanders.
The new business he started with his first Social Security check was Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now you know the rest of the story.
Okay, of course that story was first told by Paul Harvey Jr., the radio icon. From the day I heard it to today, where I have it in a book of his, I have never simply let failure ruin my day.
What I want you to take from this story is the understanding of patience as a gift. Other gifts clearly join in, such as persistence and self-worth. You’ve had trials regarding your career, and they won’t be easily overcome. However, they’ll never be overcome if you give up. If you haven’t already, read Alma 34:18-27 for encouragement and guidance.
Heavenly Father knows what you are going through and in his wisdom, he will guide you exactly where you need to go as you exercise faith in him. It is not so important what we do for a living as much as it is important how we do it, and how we live according to the Gospel of Christ in the process. Trust in Christ and he will guide you true.