Riding home after an evening bike ride, my friends and I were discussing their business, a local fruit and vegetable market that requires long hard days and nights to run.
"Do you realize I've been there over 30 years?" my friend mused.
"Why don't you think about retiring?" his wife jokingly replied.
After thinking for just a moment, he responded with confusion on his face, "But then who would I be?"
His comment struck a chord with me. After losing my job in a surprise downsizing, I've spent the last year discovering the answer to that very question. Like many others, my job defined who I was. Yes, I had a title and an office, but most days I came home too spent to enjoy life. Life is about choices. Although I didn't choose to lose my job, I could certainly decide how to respond to this unexpected "gift."
I'm a planner. Lists and goals, plans and timelines -- all screaming Type A -- filled my calendar and organizer. I could tell you exactly what I wanted to accomplish in the next five years and, if pushed, probably even 10. All that goes away in a blink of the eye if you've lost your income. I'm a Christian and believe God has a purpose and plan for each of our lives. The problem was that with all my goals and to do lists, God had nowhere to insert himself.
Sitting at home that first day on the couch, He and I suddenly had all the time in the world. God revealed that he knows exactly who I am with or without a job. His plans were still in place and he finally had my attention (and time). Status, title, money only mean we can delude ourselves into thinking we can take care of ourselves. Without a job, I realized that I needed to trust God to take care of me and that He is enough. For several months I could find no work and my husband and I had to learn to live on a limited income. But I discovered we not only could make it but that I was also enjoying life. Without the stress and pressure of my job, my health improved dramatically. I began to run, bike, write and pray for God's direction in my life!
Right now I'm working again. Finding a full-time position was difficult. I used LinkedIn and made contacts, contacts, contacts. It eventually paid off when a contact recommended me to a company he had ties to. It's a temporary consulting position with no guarantee of becoming permanent. If it does become permanent, it will be at an entry-level position making far less than at my old job. Less income means making a few changes to how we live, but I've realized I wouldn't go back to my old job even if they doubled the income. When you're in that world, it's easy to get caught up in the ambition and desire for more, more, more. However, sometimes you get the chance to step back and start to live. If you ask me now what I'll be doing in five years, I don't have an answer. In fact I'm not sure what I'll be doing next month. What I do know is that what God has to offer for my future is much better than any of my five-year plans.
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