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Learn to trust when God shoves

April 21, 2019 GMT

I’ve been emailing recently with an old writing friend, Rebecca Matthews, and the subject of “God Shoves” came up.

“Have you ever written about that?” she asked. “Because if you haven’t, you should.”

“God Shoves” is a phrase I concocted ages ago, after feeling myself being shoved a direction I was initially resistant to go. When I would eventually give over and go the direction it felt I was being led, something amazing — on a life-changing level — would happen. Yet, despite the many times this has happened, it’s sometimes still difficult to give over and trust.

Since God Shoves can be a little hard to explain with word count constraints and without giving examples, I’ll share one that happened recently, not to me but to my boyfriend, Don Patton.

Don has worked for a quarter century at an Atlanta ad agency, for a time as their art director, before progressing to creative director. The firm was once one of the largest in Atlanta, but over the years, other agencies appeared on the scene that seemed sexier, edgier — more appealing in that shiny-object-in-the sun, let’s-see-what-it-is sort of way — and lured off some of their business.

It became advertising’s equivalent of the corner diner. Even though most everyone knew the food was consistently great and the service outstanding, they began eating elsewhere just to see what was served.

The norm in this world is for art directors to jump from one agency to the next, but even as the firm got smaller, Don stayed. He genuinely liked the owner and the firm

and the location. In a city notorious for its miserable traffic, he could run home for lunch.

Other agencies occasionally tried to lure him away, but his only temptation was the idea of working for himself. And that temptation was a constant.

“But what if no one would hire me?” he’d ask as he talked himself away from the idea. The gamble of willingly leaving a steady paycheck and benefits and a window office overlooking Buckhead was too great a risk for a man as deeply responsible as Don, and while it was some-thing he longed to try, he couldn’t bring himself to take that leap.

So God shoved him over the edge.

Last fall, the firm’s slow, downward slide sharply steepened. After a couple core clients switched to producing in-house and a few others closed shop or were gobbled by mergers, the owner decided it was time to retire. Right around Christmas, he told Don he’d like to keep him on as a freelancer (with insurance), but was closing the office itself.

Before all this happened, Don was already doing some freelance, but only two or three jobs every month. Nowhere near what he’d need to survive. But the week his boss made the announcement, that changed.

Without Don telling anyone what had transpired. Including his mother, who is learning about this development with this column. (Note to Betty Patton: Don’s really sorry about that, but he loves you and didn’t want you to worry.)

When Don got the news, he’d been shockingly calm. Granted, it hadn’t been a total surprise, but his faith is such that he said he knew God wouldn’t shove without providing the net. And from the same week Don received the news on his job, freelance jobs began pouring in, one after another. Coming from as far away as Portugal and France. The floodgates have opened.

His income the first month on his own was higher than his best month working for someone else, and picking up steam ever since. A good comparative visual might be that famous Lucille Ball scene, where she’s trying to package chocolates coming down a conveyor belt but can barely keep pace.

That’s how it’s been. The graphic design version anyway.

Don might not have believed he was ready to ride on his own, but his Father knew better. He took off Don’s training wheels, gave him a little shove, and said, “You don’t need these anymore, son. Trust me. And ride.”

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com. And Don’s work can be seen at donpattoncreative.com.