Empty Pockets, Heartache and Failure, Oh My!

EMPTY POCKETS: A contained space found on trousers and jeans, and the like, and are used often to hold money and coins for future purchases, chapstick, cellphones, chewing gum, chew, and an assortment of other essential and/or non-essential items. In this case, there is nothing there. Nada. Zilch. Zero. 

Ever been broke? Even been so broke that broke is broke because of how broke you are? That last sentence was grammatically broke. Thank you I’ll be here the entire article!

Being broke is not all that fun. I know. I’ve been there. It started when I was born until age 15 at my first job. However, I did not understand the principles of finance. Therefore, I had empty pockets. I even worked at a bank, Signet Bank for you Richmonders, right before it became Capital One. The one thing I needed was capital. It was so elusive.

Here’s what I do know from my lived experience: economic hardship is no joke. It causes undo amounts of pain and suffering made worse when it is beyond our control. If we make unwise choices with money, that is on us. The good news is we can learn and start making wise choices with our money. But when life comes along and makes you poor, the quality of you’re life experience(s) is very poor.

HEARTACHE: The experience of a lifetime that, causes zits in teenagers, angst in 20-somethings and generalized pain for the rest of us. It’s a joke 20-somethings ūüėČ

I kissed a girl and I liked it. Great song by Katy Perry. I, too, kissed a girl and I liked it. Until one night, she kissed a boy in front of me when were in a commited 8th grade relationship. The horror! That was the beginning of heartache for me. Academic problems, teenage facial hair wasteland, weight problems, and all other sorts of problems have caused heartache in my life. Zits, Chris? Really? Yes, I had to invest in Stridex. I wanted a guitar. Priorities, geez!

Seriously though, heartache can chew you up and spit you out emotionally, mentally, spiritually and even physically. I’m sure you’ve been there. Maybe you are there now. It’s no fun. About as fun as diving into JAWS’s mouth. If you didn’t get enough heartache the first time, they re-released JAWS to the theater. And to think that I went to see sea-related death on the big screen on purpose, to scare myself and called it ‘fun’ and ‘entertaining’. No thanks. It left me with empty pockets, heartache, and failure to use common sense. Pools scared me for years after that. Don’t ask. It makes no sense.

FAILURE: The wonderful pain-filled, disappointment-rich experience(s) we all have from time to time that can embarrass us and shake us to our very core. It is so much fun to fail in school. Ever done that? I ‘earned’ a 1.9 GPA at VCU. I succeeded in failing until I understood a very important principle: success requires me to show up. Failure is certain. Success is for those who can outlast fear, ignore defeat, and rise with resilience.

WHAT’S MY POINT:¬†I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go. Actually, this article was planned and it has a point. PRS workers hear and see a lot of things. We learn about people’s financial struggles and wish we could change them for them. But as peer workers, we can help them decide a course of action to get off the financial glacier and into the life boat even though their current finances are sinking like the Titanic.

We see and hear about heartache that has touched the lives of those we serve. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear. Sometimes, we just sit on the ‘mourning bench’ of humanity and grieve with those who grieve.

And many times we have and will continue to hear stories of epic failures in the lives of our peers. Sometimes, epic failures will be a hallmark of our stories.

Let me encourage you: Empty pockets do not mean one isn’t still rich. Family and friends bring a richness to our lives. The sun shines for free. Laughter is the best medicine and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Heartache leaves a mark but not as painful as when anyone one of us return fire at heartache when we dust off the pain and continue to pursue faith, hope and love in our relationships.

And failure? Failure is just another step on the way to success. We learn that we can fail. But we are not failures. Huge difference!

The next time you serve a peer, think on these things. If the situation warrants it and they are open to receive what you can share to encourage them, share how you have overcome and/or are continuing to overcome situations in one or all of these categories. Inspire them that they too can live a happy life even if it temporarily seems impossible.

And for goodness sakes, remember that empty pockets, heartache, and failures go away when you stop listening to country music. Did I say that? I sure did. Kenny Rogers is one of my favorite country artists. Listen to ‘Coward of the County’. You’ll be glad you did.

~ Chris Newcomb


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