Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
You might recognize that list of words as being what is generally accepted as the five stages of grief. We have all lost someone precious to us – parents, friends, and even pets. The loss that I’m currently dealing with is the loss of my job. You see, in July of last year I was one of thousands of people who were separated from employment (a very PC term for being laid off) due to the retirement of the Space Shuttle. Or, as my co-workers and I preferred to think of it – we were freed up for further opportunities.
Losing an income is certainly hard enough, but it also brought the loss of friends, many of whom I had worked with for 20 years or more. Many relocated to find a new life for themselves and others are still searching for new jobs like me, so it’s hard to get together. It brought about a certain loss of identity as well. I was one of the truly lucky ones who could honestly say, “I love my job!” I had been involved with the Space Shuttle for over 27 years. The home that I grew up in was literally across the street from one of the first NASA buildings and we were occasionally able to see some of the original 7 astronauts, so I had been around the space program my whole life. So what am I now? I still don’t know the answer to that question.
There were, of course, things that weren’t great like personality conflicts, the ever-present deadlines, and the tragic losses of the Challenger and Columbia. In spite of those things, I enjoyed going to work and there was nothing as thrilling as seeing a successful launch or landing.
While I have been able to move through some of those stages of grief fairly quickly I will confess that I’ve not dealt very well with the job search issue as a whole. Because of that I am trying to turn more and more to the best teaching tool that I know - the Bible. The Bible isn’t just a bunch of words that were thrown down willy-nilly on a piece of parchment. Those words were put there for a very specific reason. God intentionally fed those words to us to use and to rely on. I grew up listening to a very traditional pulpit pounding, Bible thumping Southern Baptist minister, so I’ve heard the words before. The trick is to apply them.
Denial – this can’t be happening to me. This was a very easy stage to move through because it wasn’t happening to just me. On the day I checked out of work, over 900 others walked out with me.
Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Anger – How could they do this to me? How could I stay angry when there were so many others going through the same thing?
Psalm 37:8 - Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
Bargaining – maybe if I just . . . Yes, I tried to bargain with God, but not successfully I must add. Really not a smart move to try and bargain with Him.
Psalm 78:41 - They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
Depression – I’m never going to get a job. This is probably where I am now. A very dear and caring friend recently asked me how I was doing, and how the job search was going. I started blubbering like a baby. How lame is that?
Matthew 6:34 - Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Acceptance – well, that stinks. I’m not fully there yet. I know that God has a plan for me and the journey I’ve been on during the last year is only a tiny part of it.
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
So, as I continue my job search I pray and give thanks for the job I had, what I am going through now, and for whatever the future holds.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I wrote the first part of my blog in early August as I was struggling to find peace again and to fully move into the “acceptance” phase. In the months before my separation date I really wasn’t worried about what was to come, because through my belief in God I knew that everything was going to be OK. Many of the people I worked with were finding it difficult to come to terms with. When I was asked how I was able to maintain a sense of calm, I was given the opportunity tell people about my faith in God and how I knew he was going to provide for my needs. Unfortunately, as the year progressed I lost that peace.
I tried to find it again in the best way I knew, which is prayer. Over the past year I prayed for many things – specific jobs, particular locations to work in, specific salaries. I prayed over job applications, and that my resume would be perfect. I finally let all that go and my new prayer was that I would get the one job that God wanted me to have and that I would get it when He wanted me to have it. Nothing more. I turned it over to Him and stepped back. By doing that I found my peace again.
Joshua 1:5 . . . Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
In mid-August, my sister-in-law was in a conversation with one of subcontractor’s that her school district occasionally uses. As they talked, Glenda mentioned that I was looking for a job. A day or so later, this gentleman – a man I have never met - came back and told her that he found me a job. Very, very late on a Friday afternoon she contacted me and gave me a name and a phone number of someone who had an open position that I might be suitable for. I immediately called and left a message that day, and again on Monday. When I didn’t hear back I thought, “OK – it’s not the job God wanted me to have”.
On Wednesday, I was talking to a good friend, Mary (a woman with a true, deep, and spiritual faith) from my old company. As we talked I brought up the story of this potential job opening that my sister-in-law found. I told her about the new focus of my prayers, and that I was OK with not having gotten a response from my phone messages. Mary encouraged me to stay faithful and to continue turning it over completely to God.
And then a God thing happened.
Before I even hung up the phone completely, it rang, and on the phone was the man I left the messages with regarding the job opening. After speaking for a couple of minutes, I offered to take in my resume. This was at 4:30 on Wednesday. At 9:30 the next morning I met with him and at 11:30 I walked out with a job! Praise God!
I have been at work for three weeks now and love it. It is the complete opposite of any of the specific things I had prayed for during the year, and I finally filled out a job application on my 3rd day of work. My resume that I wanted to be perfect? It was only glanced at briefly while I was in the interview. Also, looking back, I can see how each of the jobs I’ve ever had, contribute to the one that I have right now.
It’s a God thing.
Exodus 15:2 - The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.