The Job Conundrum

4 Jun

When I was 29, I was mad at God, so I wrote a play.

There’s something about turning 30 that winds up being your first, hard look at your own mortality. You realize, as your youth begins to wane, that you won’t be here forever. You can sort of get away with pretending that death only comes to other people and it probably won’t ever come to you. But 30 is a crack of lightning that wakes you to the truth that this whole thing isn’t slowing down and there’s only so much time to do what you’re going to do, to become who you’ll become.

So I gave myself the challenge: I was going to write a play about God while I was still young, giving myself the deadline of the day before my 30th birthday to finish it. It was meant to be a metatextual attempt to understand God and why he allows so much terrible in the universe.

I focused on Job. If you’re unfamiliar with the bible story, God and The Devil make a bet that Job, a righteous man, will turn from God if God allows tribulation into his life. A lot of awful shit happens to Job, including the death of his children. He stays more or less faithful (but not without some questions); he passes the test. God blesses him for it, including riches and compensatory replacement children.

This made me crazy. How could God do this? How do replacement children make up for the children Job lost? Is that how it works? Who did God think he was?

I finished the play, just under the wire. It’s a little clunky and derivative, but I’m still kind of proud of it. Though I was in preliminary talks with a producer at one point, it was never performed.

And no, of course I had no idea that I would lose my own children five years later.


Today I get to write the entry I’ve been trying to write for at least three years.

In 2016, we began the journey of foster parenting with a four-year-old named Christopher. In 2018, his biological sisters, Chloe and Chelsea, also came to live in our home. And last summer, August of 2021, we officially adopted all three children.

A handful of rigid laws have restricted us from sharing our kids’ names or images over the years, but now that they’re adopted, we’re finally free to share.


Chloe Bear is 15. She’s finishing up her freshman year at the high school from Freedom Writers. She’s quiet and private and she loves animals and Harry Styles. She’s been vegetarian for over a year and, about a month ago, decided to go all-in on veganism. Unlike most girls of her generation, she’s laser-focused on getting her driver’s license as soon as possible. She’s interested in social justice and reads books about murder.

Chelsea Bear is 14. Unlike her sister, her favorite food is steak. Her dream is to be a rich and famous actress with a giant house, a swimming pool and a waterslide. Her favorite musician is Taylor Swift and her favorite books are teen drama graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier. She makes friends easily and feels that the social media restrictions Carey and I force on her are unreasonable.

Christopher Bear is 9. He’s the most buoyant, joyful kid I know. His favorite activity is video games that involve building and destroying. His COVID lockdown hair continues to grow and is now the longest of anyone in our house. He plans to stop when it reaches the same length as Elsa’s from Frozen. He sleeps to the sound of thunderstorms playing on a loop. When he’s happiest, he does a dance that involves skipping around and smacking his own butt.


It was easier to rail on the idea of God providing compensatory replacement children before I had three of my own. I love my kids and I wouldn’t trade them. And I’m not naïve; I know they wouldn’t be in our lives without the loss of our triplet boys.

But the question I’m not supposed to ask is: “Was it worth it?”

The truth is my six children live in conflicting realities and I’m grateful I don’t have to choose. Call it Job’s Conundrum, I guess. Did we really need the soul crushing trauma of losing Rudyard, Desmond and Oscar to enjoy the blessing of Chloe, Chelsea and Christopher?

Is there any value in asking the question?

As I’ve said before, the universe determined, despite my early protests in literally every case, that my wife and I would be parents and the number of children would be three. Resistance is futile. Give up and give in. All your base are belong to us.

So that’s it. I guess it’s exactly as complicated as that. Content yourself with messy (and don’t kid yourself – messy is what we are). Love your family. Rejoice in the blessings of three kids brought to our home through trauma and tragedy.

And one day, in a thousand years’ time if you believe in that sort of thing, when we’re all slipping up and down the silver-paved byways of the sweet hereafter AllNow 7D supercontext, we’ll look up the Job residence on Heavenly GPS. Drive on over, knock on the door.  Swap stories, meet his kids. Introduce him to our six.

Pour drinks. Raise a glass. “To the Job conundrum,” we’ll say. “To the great mess. To being together at last.”

“It all worked out in the end.”

3 Responses to “The Job Conundrum”

  1. Becky Waltz June 4, 2022 at 2:06 pm #

    Such a beautiful tribute. So much love for all of you! ❤️

  2. amandadickinson98 June 4, 2022 at 7:06 pm #

    Jeremy,As always, thank you for sharing your family’s journey.  What a road you have walked. Your kids look happy, confident, and secure in the truth thst they are treasured. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than that.  It is always nice to hear from you.  My FB was hacked last July and I was blocked out of it, quite permanently it would seem. 😦 I have a new account as Amanda Dickinson. And I have multi-step authentication for any logins. Because apparently you need that now. Ugh.Take care,AmandaSent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  3. Rochelle Haas June 4, 2022 at 7:24 pm #

    Now that is one big beautiful story- so happy and grateful for your family addition💖💖💖

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