It was 1984, I was working for Opportunity Int’l in Vienna, Virginia. Karen and I had an apartment in Falls Church. Talia was a year old and we were just getting going in life.
It was the heady early days of micro-enterprise work. But then my boss, Barry Harper, was fired by the board of directors. A new boss arrived and everything changed. One day the new boss let me know they were letting me go.
That began one of the worst seasons I’ve been through. I was 26 and still uncertain of my value to the world. Karen was pregnant and we needed money, so I applied for unemployment.
I remember the trips to the unemployment office. You waited in a featureless government building along with other anonymous people. At some point they called your name and you went to the window where someone asked you questions and gave you a check.
They asked you questions to find out if you were actively looking for work. It felt like a shaming conversation.The process left me feeling diminished – a failure. It was the same feeling I got as a kid when we picked sides at basketball and I was the last one picked because I was short.
As the sole breadwinner, I was motivated to find work of any kind. There was no internet, so you looked in the newspaper for anything that would pay. I worked a series of menial clerical jobs. And I had no idea where to go from there.
Mercifully, I got into business school and after what seemed like the most miserable season of my life to that point, I got back on track.
The memories of being a failure in the workplace lingered and continued to sting for a long time. Years later, God spoke to me as I was mowing my lawn. “You know that season where you were fired and felt terrible about yourself? You were actually just going through an internship that had finished. That was me promoting you. You couldn’t go on to the next level unless I pried your hands off the wheel and showed you another path.”
What a revelations that was! There I was on a hot summer day mowing the lawn and I was dumbstruck!
The narrative I’d clung to was that the boss didn’t appreciate my skills or calling. I had been a victim and that season of unemployment had been one of the worst of my life. My confusion had lingered for years – it made no sense.
Getting God’s perspective was huge. Like you, I’d heard the Bible verse, “all things work together for good for those who love God.” I believed it in an academic way, but there were seasons of my life where I had been asking God to rescue me and it didn’t seem like he showed up. I couldn’t see how they worked together for good.
Seeing my personal history through this lens changed everything. I was not a victim. My old boss was not a persecutor. He was actually a tool in God’s hands. God used him to promote me to a new season – one that became one of the best of my life.
How many of us are in that same place right now? The world doesn’t look like we expected it to. We have been taken out of a comfortable, affirming spot in life. What if God were actually in the process of promoting us? What if we had finished learning the lessons of the last season and our best season lay just ahead?