By Jess Brown
It was the Monday after I got back from Israel. I was looking forward to sharing the chocolate I got at the Duty Free area with my co-workers and catching up on e-mails. I had a slight tan. I was wearing sandals because I was still on Jerusalem time and I even happily nodded and smiled when people asked the standard questions about how my trip was. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty darn pleased with myself. So pleased, that I had temporarily forgotten about the awkward pre-flight conversation I had with my boss the week before. He wasn’t going to let me go. I was probably just reading into the weird conversation we had and being paranoid. I mean, I had even gotten another promotion in the New Year. I had nothing to worry about. When I came in my boss even looked happy to see me like any other day. All was back to normal. No. BETTER than normal because I just had the trip of a lifetime.
It’s been about a month since that Monday and I still don’t exactly remember the line that was given. In retrospect, it was probably all a blur where every word wasn’t registering, but for comedic effect, let’s just say I was told: “Welcome back, I just thought I should tell you that you are being let go now.”
I mean WHAT? Who gets laid off when they’ve just been in Jesusland?
BACK THERE AGAIN
I remember when I graduated college in 2010 being in a similar free fall. At the time I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to write. I had a fantastic internship that whet my appetite. Although I wasn’t the chosen few snatched up before graduation, I told myself I’d apply for a year. I had a year. And then I would change courses. After a year, I would take anything.
At the time I had every reason to believe things would work out. And long story short, it didn’t. I couldn’t get hired by anyone in the industry I wanted. The economy was terrible. I was one of many graduates who couldn’t break into anything. And with the bills piling up, the grace period for student loan repayment ending, I had to accept my circumstances. I was going to take what I could get. I had to stop babysitting, stop cleaning houses and stop working retail. There would be no more hoping and waiting for interviews. And I ended up in an industry I specifically told Jesus one year before that I didn’t want to be in.
Now fast forward to 2017 where I’m recently tanned and in the job I loved. How did I get into the same situation again? I thought the 2011-2014 era of my life was over. I had gone through the fire with God, and this job had been my saving grace. I was restored. I felt confident. I was excelling. Over and over, I was told how I would be here forever. And yet I would be lying if I said this whole rejection thing didn’t reek heavily of the past. How could I go back to that girl? I wanted to never experience that loss again. I thought I learned those lessons. I felt like my character was already built. And now? Does this mean more furnace time? More proving time?
THE FIVE STAGES
I wanted to write about this part of my journey because I think we all find ourselves blind sighted in one way or another whenever some form of loss occurs in our lives. I fully believe I’ve already traversed all five stages of job loss this past month. These are:
Stage 1 – Denial:
No No No, this isn’t happening. God has my back. I mean I just got back from Israel. I sang “Oceans” at the Sea of Galilee. I saw places where Jesus performed miracles. I was supposed to just be checking e-mails today…now I have to update my resume?
Stage 2 – Anger:
THIS ISN’T HAPPENING! I’ve defended my boss for years. I trusted him. People here are always avoiding work or dipping out for interviews. How could HE dump ME? I thought I was irreplaceable?
Stage 3 – Bargaining:
Okay, maybe if I just continue to apply for jobs and get hired before the end of the month I can feel smug that someone else saw my value. Ha! That’ll show them. God, you know I need a job ASAP, so I’ll continue to tithe and keep up with the new things I signed up for because I can keep my word, but you know I can’t do this forever right? I mean God, you know what bills I have, the places I give to. You know what I need. I’ve honored You. I’ve honored my commitments. God, I don’t want to go back to blaming You. Help me find something. I don’t want to go back to who I was.
Stage 4 – Grief:
I don’t want to get dressed. I don’t need to get dressed. How long have I been watching Netflix? Did I eat lunch yet? Should I go for a car ride? God, can I go to Heaven now? I’ll stop setting my alarm. I have nowhere to be.
Stage 5 – Acceptance:
I don’t like this. I don’t deserve this. But God, you know what I need and you’ll get me through this. Nothing I’m doing is working out. I can’t do this without You.
These are all real things I’ve said to God. The job search has been horrible. I could lie and write a whole message about how the job search is a blessing but that wouldn’t be right. I could talk about how I’ve been pumping out devotions and blogs and really killing it during this off time. But the fact is, it’s hard to accept life when it doesn’t make sense. When we have been sowing seeds into our church, work, and home, then things die anyway. When we feel like, “Hey God, I’ve done everything right. I’ve done everything You asked. I thought we’ve been getting closer and closer. But You dropped me. Why?”
Trust me I get it. I don’t understand why it happens this way. But it does. And I know that in this season of unemployment that I have the power to do some things. Maybe not everything. But some things like:
- I will continue to go to church. I will take notes on the message. I will sing the songs with everything I have.
- I will continue to plant seeds waiting for the harvest. I will write. I will post on Instagram. I will read the Bible. I will journal. I will read books.
- I will continue to be faithful financially. Even if I have to tithe out of my unemployment, I will honor God. I will not backslide. I will not react out of fear.
Friends, if you are going through a similar season, don’t change who you are just because something happened to you. We can be bitter or we can try to use everything that happens to us to make us better. So make sure you choose wisely on how you will react during your time of loss and searching for something new.