As I reflected back on my 2018 – it is only appropriate to say that I made it out of the back half, alive, barely. Stress, anxiety, financial burdens, career changes, address changes, marital status changes and illness all rocked my world.
I sat in the unemployment office for nearly eight hours when they finally called my number. I’d finished a book and did a significant amount of people watching. I judged them harshly- taking advantage of the system, I’d thought.
But was I any different? I had been fired (!?) from a job without any fault of my own. Wasn’t the “system” supposed to help me stay afloat until I found a life raft, a ship, a dolphin, a wave to ride to shore? As the day wore on, and I eavesdropped on conversations of unjust terminations and connected with my bench buddy who was laid off from his construction job, I softened. Are there people who abuse our systems? Yes. But I don’t think they hold the majority.
I am certainly not even close to a Mother Teresa type of human- but it made me think of what she said about people: If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Now, did I fall in love with my bench buddy? No, but he crushed my preconceived notions of those who wait in the unemployment line.
As 2018 drew to a close and I was fighting near unbearable upper respiratory shenanigans, I kept thinking to myself, that the waves will subside.
I kept getting knocked down by waves. Really big ones. Really close together. Surely, the waves won’t last forever.
My divorce was finalized in September. Bittersweet to be sure. I got a new job in the fall and I thought it was the dream. It was closer to home, my boss had so much knowledge and experience and it was flexible with my home schedule. It turned out to be a flop. He hired me to replace a woman he didn’t get along with – but then had her train me. This should have been a red flag but oh, the rainbow.
Let me tell you about the rainbow. When I went into accept the new job, I left there, feeling apprehensive. Was this the right move? Is this what God had planned for me? Was this where I was meant to be? And as I unlocked my car, I saw something reflecting in the window – it was a rainbow. Obviously, rainbows symbolize God’s promise – but after having miscarried and a rainbow baby that joined our family later – it meant so much more to me. God is faithful. God is present. God is always working. God sees me. God put me here for a reason. He was affirming my decision. I felt like I could walk on water, calm the waves with my hand. With God cheering for me, how could I falter?
My boss, worked out of three locations and I never knew where he was. When he was in my location, his door was shut. He never responded to my emails, never gave me a list of things to work on, never spoke to me. So I shadowed the other HR woman who was supposed to be terminated who I grew quite fond of.
And then, six short weeks later, I got a phone call, the Friday before Christmas and my boss, whom I’d idolized from the get-go, said, “you’re fired.”
“Why?” I managed to whisper.
He went on to explain that even though I had organized employee files, created new applications, rewrote the employee handbook and negotiated benefit contracts – that I was not the right fit.
Truly, honestly, that hurt my feelings more than if it had been the quality of my work performance. To me, it was so personal, he just didn’t like me. He was cold and callous. I said, “it’s Christmas.”
He replied, “Well, there’s never a good time to fire someone.”
And all I could mutter was, “well, there is a bad time.”
He hung up the phone.
But the rainbow!
On that cold, wintery, December night, it was dark. No sun, no rainbow.
I wondered why God had lead me down this path. Why did he allow the waves to keep coming? One after another. I barely had time to catch my breath before another wave came to knock me down.
After the holidays, things will settle down, I thought. Surely the waves won’t last forever.
And then I got sick. It was the long lasting, never ending, illness that knocked me off my feet. So, tiny sliver of silver lining. At least I didn’t have to go into work. I could rest and try and recover.
I went to my parents lake house on Lake Huron for a change of scenery.
The lake there is incredibly blue and deep and powerful. It is so often my church. I spent many evenings on the rocky jetty, worshiping and chatting with God – usually with a glass of wine.
As I watched a storm roll in, the wind blew in these incredible giant waves, I saw that they were relentless. They were deafening. They were crashing on shore, washing away the beach and clearing a path. I was so moved by their power, their persistence, their tenacity.
Waves are powerful forces. They change the landscape. They move things. They redirect. They shift. They change. They are fierce but there is beauty in their power.
Am I God’s landscape? Is he using these waves to transform me? I want to shout above the roar of the waves, “Just tell me what you want, I will do it, I’ll be it, I’ll give it.” But a lump of coal doesn’t demand to be a diamond. It endures heat and pressure, and it’s own waves, as it were, to become a diamond. It takes time.
Any maybe in this uneasy, unpredictable season (I hope it’s just a season), I am being transformed. Into what? God only knows.
And when I find myself praying for the waves to cease, a reprieve from the big ones. I am often caught off guard with the thought that waves are never ceasing. Even on a hot summer day, when there is not a whisper of a breeze, the flatness and calmness of the lake still shows ripples of waves. Tiny, to be sure, but waves nonetheless, a gentle reminder that God isn’t finished with us yet.