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Learning from the Door Closing Behind You Learning from the Door Closing Behind You

Learning from the door closing behind you

If you’ve been fired, why did it happen? As a young man, I was fired twice. The story I told myself about it I then carried around as a false narrative for years. Why? Reflecting on what happened, I did it to preserve my sense of self-worth. It hurt – I felt incompetent. But it would ha…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Learning from the Door Closing Behind You

If you’ve been fired, why did it happen?

As a young man, I was fired twice. The story I told myself about it I then carried around as a false narrative for years. Why? Reflecting on what happened, I did it to preserve my sense of self-worth. It hurt – I felt incompetent.

But it would have been better had I found a way to step back and ask a simple question: “What did I contribute to this?”

Parker Palmer shares what such reflection looks like in his wonderful book, Let Your Life Speak

I felt the Lord asking, “Would you want to still be there?” Of course my answer was “no.” And he showed me, “That was your internship. You were there to be prepared for your next stage and assignment.”

When I saw it through the lens of rejection, I was aggrieved and wounded. When I saw it from God’s perspective – it was a training ground; I stopped taking it personally and was able to see that God had used the brokenness of others to complete the job of training that I needed.

Almost all of us in the working world have had a few upsets – people who didn’t understand us or who treated us poorly. Have you ever stopped to consider that perhaps that phase of your life that felt so hurtful was actually God preparing you for the next phase of life?

Consider the possibility that you may have been looking at your circumstances like a near-sighted person. Step back a few paces and you may be able to better perceive the way God used difficult circumstances to answer your prayers.

One of the hardest experiences I had occurred when I was let go from a job 33 years ago. When I finally got to the place where I was open to hearing from God about it, this is what I heard:
“You thought that your boss betrayed you – that was me promoting you! Your time with him was an internship. It was necessary for you to become the leader I wanted you to become.”

Wow – what a lesson! What I had seen as betrayal was actually God promoting me. It was one of the toughest lessons of my life. Eventually I realized, “You know, I’ve been like that in some people’s lives. I’ve made promises I couldn’t keep. People have looked to me and I’ve disappointed them. But similarly, perhaps God used me to get people where he wanted them to go.”

When I look at the big picture of my life, I see God using painful situations to shape my character.
My experience hearing God give me perspective echoed Palmer’s: “That was your internship. It was just practice for the future. If you hadn’t been asked to leave your job, you might still be there.”
What a profound realization! Once I got out of the victim mentality and saw that the pain of rejection was misplaced, things made sense. Through it all God was helping me go to another level.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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