Two and a half months ago I lost my part-time job. It happened with no warning. I didn’t have a bad performance review; in fact, I didn’t have a review at all. I was summoned to the boss’s office and told I was being let go because my skills weren’t up to snuff. This came as a huge shock after eight years of smooth sailing, with no complaints from my colleagues. After thinking it over, and getting the reactions of friends and family, I’m convinced I wasn’t given the real reason for getting sacked. I was told a lie to cover up the real reason. That’s the prevailing theory, anyway.
Ironically, I was seriously considering retiring. I was getting weary of the crazy schedule, and although the extra income was helpful, it wasn’t crucial to our existence. They would have been rid of me anyway, and it could have happened with nice feelings all around, the opportunity for closure, and the comforting sense that I had done well with that chapter of my life. Instead I was unceremoniously dumped overboard. After eight years of building professional relationships, working hard, and doing my best, it stings.
So there’s all kinds of junk to deal with as a result, including anger, sadness and confusion. Since I always want to know why, I have questions about the process and the hidden reasons: If my skills were sub par, why wasn’t I told earlier and given a chance to improve? Why give me a ten-month contract in August, and then fire me halfway through? Did anybody fight for me? Who knew what, and when? It’s painful to realize I’ll most likely never know the answers to those questions. Employers unfortunately don’t owe their at-will employees answers, and what I’ve experienced is pretty common. But it still seems monumentally unjust. I know I need to move on, but it’s harder than you might think. It must be what people experience who are grieving a truly significant loss. The sun keeps coming up in the morning, and people around you keep doing their thing, but you are in the process of reinventing yourself, and you feel out of sync.
I’m thinking through some fundamental issues. Am I bad at what I do? Even though it’s generally agreed that the “inferior skills” line was a cover story, the question lingers. If they lied to me, why that particular lie? Was I bad at it for eight years? Have I been bad at it my entire adult life? And, having been gobsmacked by this abrupt change, what do I do now?
Some days I feel the freedom of a less harried schedule. The seasonal pressure of my seasonal job has evaporated. I can now explore opportunities that were previously closed to me. But some days I miss what I did and the people I worked with. I feel like I’m adrift in a life boat, doing a lot of directionless floating, with no rescuer in sight.
The bottom line is that God is sovereign. He knew when I took this job how it was going to end. There are no surprises in heaven. And as injustice goes, this is pretty mild. But please don’t tell me that God has something better lined up for me. Maybe he does, and maybe he doesn’t. His view of better isn’t necessarily my view of better. That’s not the real issue, anyway. I have two choices: to wallow, or to ask God what he wants me to learn from this. To trust that he is at work in ways I may never be allowed to know about. And to believe, as Scripture teaches, that God is always at work fulfilling his purposes. I remind myself that this life isn’t about me having perfect circumstances, but about learning to love God and others no matter what my circumstances are.
So I guess I’ll be lost at sea awhile longer, making an effort to enjoy the fresh sea air, while I (more or less) patiently wait for clues to my immediate future and for the return of a sense of significance. A woman my age has learned that God is the captain, even when I’m adrift in the life boat.