I Got Fired And It Saved My Life!
Last year, after being employed with a non profit organization for 5 years, I was fired. The way it happened was absolutely horrible. It was unexpected and it left me hurt, angry and bitter.
But in hindsight, getting fired saved my life.
After receiving my Master’s degree in Social Work, I immediately started my doctoral program in 2009. Following the recession, and being laid off from a campus position, I began to apply to basically everywhere. Nothing. I was in shock that even with a master’s degree, I was having difficulty finding a job.
But, because God is God, I was offered an opportunity with a national non profit organization.
Side Note: in times of doubt, you’ve got to recall the times when God provided in the past. This was one of those times.
It was such an awesome opportunity to work for an organization I loved, respected, and had volunteered with since I was a new graduate student. Serving in a leadership role within the organization in the past, gave me an advantage in my new role as an administrator. I was fortunate to be surrounded by a few folk who cared about, and were invested in my growth, both personally and professionally (I am still grateful for those connections and have been blessed with a few lifelong friends and mentors).
Being connected to folk who looked like me and had traveled down the professional path before me was truly a privilege I did not take lightly. I was able to grow as a professional. I was challenged to do better. I worked as if my life depended on it.
In a way, my personal life had become intertwined with my professional life and completing work tasks became an extension of who I was as a person. With the same passion in which I pursued my personal life, I also pursued my professional life. And in the beginning it seemed like a match made in heaven.
Oh, but how many folk know trouble comes when we least expect it?
The truth of the matter was this; I allowed my professional accomplishments to be my sole source of fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong, I was excelling in other areas of my life. However, for whatever reason, I did not hold those accomplishments with as much esteem as I held my successes at work.
When my father died, I dug deeper into my work. When I began to struggle in my doctoral program, I dug deeper into my work. When I agonized over the thought of never getting married, I dug deeper into my work. And in retrospect, and after THERAPY AND JESUS, I realized I built my identity on the successful completion of the work.
I was the job. The job was me.
The Bible talks much about having a solid foundation in Christ. I knew that God knew the plans He had for me. I knew that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. I knew that God loved me so much, He sent Jesus to reconcile my sinful self back to God. But there I was, with a diminished perspective of who I was in Christ. My identity was no longer solidified in my foundation of Christ, but was solidified in my career.
Because I was having an identity crisis, I undersold myself. I believed because I had not yet received my Ph.D., this job was the only thing I could do in the interim. I received less compensation than I deserved and wrote it off as my gift to a non profit I loved. In actuality, I allowed my greatness to be buried in piles of paperwork, because I feared my own potential.
I had convinced myself the harder I worked, the better I’d feel. Even with a very flexible schedule, I worked through sickness and pain. I worked on holidays and weekends. I worked following major surgery. I worked so much, I rarely used vacation time or sick time. In my mind, I HAD to do it all.
The truth of the matter was this; I was terrified to quit. Quitting was an admission of being ill-equipped. Quitting was some how equivalent with being lazy or unwilling to work, and I was certain God would not bless that mess.
And so, despite multiple red flags of disregard and disrespect, and watching folk around me resign, I stayed in place. I stayed in fear.
But God allows certain things to happen in order to move us out of our own way.
The spiritual attacks became overbearing. I was talked about, lied on, and falsely accused. I was placed into a position where I had to put my faith in action and pray for the people who loved me on Monday and hated me by Friday. I had to forgive people who harmed me by using spiritual perception to recognize the move of the enemy within them.
Side note: In the midst of my praying, I can’t lie, I was ready to lay hands...and they wouldn’t have been holy. I was ready to have folk catch me outside. Thank you Holy Ghost.
Anxiety and depression had over taken me like strong ocean waves. On Sunday, the realization of work the next day, caused my body to go into a state of panic.
I couldn’t sleep at nights because I’d lie awake worrying about the next attack. Thirty minutes of sleep per night became the norm.
Physically, my body was taking a beating. I was sick often. Migraine headaches kept me in bed for hours at a time. I had regular sinus infections, which would leave me without a voice for days. I also believe the stress was a contributor to a miscarriage in the summer of 2018. My blood pressure was continually rising, and behind closed doors, as I sobbed uncontrollably, my PCP told me that I HAD to de-stress.
Emotionally, I was a wreck. I cried everyday. No seriously, EVERY. DAY. At the end of many days, I spent hours reliving conversations and interactions, in order to somehow convince myself that I was the one being irrational. I was irritable and frustrated on most days, which I realized, were attempts to mask my own fear.
I’m sure my productivity took a nose dive. Who in their right mind would want to work in a place where they are constantly belittled by people with similar credentials?
I felt as if I was fighting a battle by myself.
When I was fired at the end of 2018, I was given no explanation other than the organization was “moving in a different direction”. I knew in my heart that I had done my best and literally given my all. But it still hurt.
In spiritual hindsight, I could see the previous attacks were manipulative ways to remove me from my position. However, because I remained steadfast, unmovable, and continued to work in integrity, the only option, was termination.
In the following months, I addressed my issues head on. YES...I prayed AND I went to therapy. The loss of a job is a loss, and for me, it was a significant one.
Side note: Everything can’t be prayed away and everything is not a spirit. And being African American doesn’t exempt you from having mental health concerns. So YES, I absolutely encourage folk to go to therapy and seek God.
I watched as God showed Himself mighty in the midst of me feeling as if I was loosing my mind. I recall being so uncertain of what was happening, but completely trusting an omnipotent God.
As a tither, I sat back and watched all of our financial needs being met. As a believer, I saw God restore me in ways that I still have difficulty putting into words.
Side Note: I double dog dare you to trust God with your money as a tither, and watch God take care of you financially. DOUBLE. DOG. DARE. YOU!
My prayer life has been strengthened and this waistline got snatched in the process. My skin is glowing. I am no longer depressed, and my anxiety is being well-managed (certain mental health issues never go away, but they can be managed with positive coping skills). My trust in God is solid. And I have re-evaluated my purpose in Christ and subsequently adjusted my self-image.
Simply put, I am NOT just a job. I am NOT just a pay check. I am NOT just designer shoes and purses (Now y’all know I love me a red bottom, but they have never and will never define me). I am NOT just a First Lady nor am I just a wife.
I’m a child of the King. PERIODT!
That is ALL I need and desire to be. THIS type of security and affirmation is what allows us to walk in our authentic selves, regardless of who is watching.
In hindsight, I’m so glad I was treated unfairly. I’m so glad folk plotted and schemed to discredit my name. I’m so glad I was lied on. I’m so glad I got fired, because in those moments when I thought I was all alone, a BIG GOD was fighting the battle for me, and even in my weakness, God still got the glory.
Thank you Judas!
At some point, I might reconnect with the non-profit because the greater work of the organization can not be overshadowed by a few ugly, hateful, sad, ashy, no-edges having people (The Lord is working on me).
Side Note: In my post about millennials and church, we discussed church hurt. Hurt is hurt, and happens when PEOPLE do things that harm us. BUT, when hurt happens in the church, we must not allow Christ to be overshadowed by people and their mess.
I have seen it with my own eyes, God will make your enemies your footstool. Therefore, I can say with confidence and boldness “It’s above me now” and turn people over to God.
In my 36 years of life, in times of doubt, I can always look back and articulate the ways in which God has stepped in to provide. I am certain that getting fired saved my life, and I will NEVER EVER allow any thing or any one to disrupt my identity in Christ.
Whew...that was cathartic!