“The things that cause us the most pain are usually the roots that develop our true purpose”-Sarah Jakes, Colliding with Destiny
This morning while I was doing my devotional, I read this quote and it truly resonated with me. There is definitely purpose to our pain, in the pain I have suffered over the past few months and continue to suffer in certain areas of my life. But it is the pain that is refining my character. Molding me like clay into the person God has called me to be.
Being laid off from my job was such a learning experience for me. I knew it was going to happen-I realized earlier this year that my job was a contractual position and was going to end on July 31st. However, I thought I was prepared. I had three job interviews and one surely was going to work out, right? I was wrong. The position I really wanted ended up going with another candidate and so when my last day of work came, I had no plans and was unsure of what to do. I felt like “dead man walking” leaving job on my last day of work. Having to hand in my badge along with my other coworkers was very disheartening.
I hit the ground running though and researched, networked, and applied for jobs. I filed for unemployment benefits. In August, I went on a spiritual retreat in the Blue Ridge mountains that required me to step back and focus solely on God. No cell phones or computers were allowed (I will write a blog post about that experience at a later point). When I came back from the retreat, I felt more centered. I further trusted that God had a good plan for my life. Not that I didn’t struggle-but I fought hard to keep my mind focused on His promises and other positive thoughts.
Three weeks ago, I received an email from a non-profit consulting firm that liked my resume. They had me come in for an interview the following Thursday and the next day, I had a soft offer by my would be boss. I was excited, but knew I had to wait for the hard offer from HR to come in. So I waited. And waited. By the following Wednesday, I started to have crazy thoughts, like maybe they didn’t want me any more. On Thursday, September 11th, I was required to go to a workshop for those unemployed in Baltimore City.
Hearing the stories of those individuals made me so sad. One woman was laid off after 38 years of working at a company. She was completely blind-sided. A man shared his story of losing his job after having it for 42 years and how he had been looking for work for a year. The story that made me feel the saddest was a young woman who shared being laid off and dealing with a recent breast cancer diagnosis. We all talked about the shame that is placed on people who are unemployed. Not everyone who is unemployed wants to stay that way, but the job market is quite difficult.
I ended up getting my job offer while I was at the workshop. How ironic. Or was it?
When I think back to the conversations I had with those individuals, I am grateful that God allowed me to be there. I was able to speak life into a woman who was discouraged and to make the young woman with breast cancer laugh. Those people blessed me too. Hearing their stories and how God has kept them in spite of unemployment encouraged me.
This process of being laid off, having to be on unemployment benefits, and being rejected by jobs left and right was God’s way of developing me further. To strip away my belief that I can do things by myself without God’s help. To show me that the world’s way is not always the best way.
I definitely am not perfect and I know I can be quite hard-headed, but I know God is slowly working in me. That the pain I suffer from either consequences of my own making or from something beyond my control is not wasted. All is working together for my good and will result in a glorious conclusion. All I need to do is to keep trusting in that and pressing further into God.