In February of 2009 I wrote this piece in response to having been laid off from a job I had been at for over 9 years. Reading it today…it is still applicable. I was laid off for 5 months before finding a contract position. All of us have been impacted by this terrible economy. Take heart…God is with you.
Everyone has been hearing about layoffs in the news. 8,000 here 20,000 there. This company that company. I would hear about layoffs from companies like Sprint and not think anything other than “well there goes Sprint again”. I never thought about the human toll that was involved with huge numbers such as that. How do you quantify 8,000 people? How do you put a face to 8,000? How can you have empathy for that many people? The short answer is that I haven’t been able to, that is until January 30th.
On January 30th I was down in Texas for my grandmothers funeral when I received the call that my position had been eliminated. Not having been laid off before, I have to admit that I had no emotions, and to some extent felt some sort of relief that this had happened. Everyone gets to see the disgruntled employee who gets laid off in an interview, and how disgusted they are that this happened to them. They don’t know what they are going to do. They speak with a sense of panic, anxiety, and hopelessness. I kept replaying those interviews I saw on TV thinking, “Is this the way I should be acting, should I be upset?” Those emotions simply were not there. Even as I began to process the fact that I could get to a point where I have no money to pay bills or put food on the table for my family, I felt no anxiety… there was no panic, I never felt hopeless.
I came home the next day, and began to get a feel for the toll this had taken on the people I had worked with. The company I worked for had employed about 500 people. 25%-30% were laid off. Having been at the company for 9 years I had developed a lot of close personal relationships with many of the people there. I began to hurt for these people that I knew, became friends with, went to parties with and grown to know on a personal level.
The toll of a lay off can be devastating. After talking to numerous people who were laid off I began to hear stories of how everything went down that day. The anxiety of sitting around the office waiting for management to call their name, watching friends and piers pack their desks and leave for the last time, seeing individuals who worked in a strong professional manner break down as they were told their position had been eliminated. All I could think about was that I was glad not to have been in the office that day, because I fear that the emotional stress of watching friends and piers whom I had so much respect for breaking down would have been too much, and for many it was.
On the drive home I kept wondering why I wasn’t upset. I had lost my job, the benefits for my family and the ability to provide for my family. In the 9 hours that I drove from Longview, Texas, to Kansas City I finally figured it out.
I started to think about when Jesus walked on water, out in a storm, to the apostles who were in a boat being bounced around by waves. When the apostles saw him they thought it was a ghost, Until Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 14:27). Then one of the most amazing things happened, Peter spoke up and said “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water” (Matt. 14:28). When Jesus said come, Peter got out of the boat!
As I thought about what this meant I was beside myself. Most people would not jump out of a stationary boat, on a calm lake, with a life preserver on, and Peter stepped out of the boat, with heavy winds, and no life preserver because Jesus said to come. WHAT FAITH! Peter walked on water to Jesus in an act of pure faith, IN A STORM!
When Peter realized what he had just done, he took his eyes off of Christ and began to sink. Jesus said to him “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” and pulled him up. I thought about what this meant and how it applied to me. I realized that as long as I had my eyes on Jesus that I would not sink. I started to put it all together. In the week leading up to January 30th I had been talking about walking in faith with my mom, and grandpa, and that no matter the circumstance we have to know that God is moving for us not against us. As my pastor put it Sunday…how can you encourage anyone if you can’t encourage yourself? I realized that at that moment it was time for me to put my faith where my mouth was, and walk in faith.
On that Sunday, my pastor gave an excellent sermon. To be honest he always does. But on this Sunday it was like there was a pipeline running directly into my situation. It begins and ends with trusting God. Psalms 37:3-4 says “Trust in the LORD and do good: dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you he desires of you heart”. The simple way to look at this is to simply trust the Lord, and he will provide. The deeper way to look at this is to trust in the Lord and He will provide you the desires of your heart. As my pastor explained…this isn’t your wants or needs but the true desires in your heart. Happiness, sense of fulfillment, being a good father and husband, serving God, these are the desires in my heart. You want a job, a nice house, a nice car etc… God can provide for the vacuum that sits in our hearts, all we have to do is trust him.
James 1:2 is one of my favorite passages. I have used this passage to sustain me when things at work became overwhelming or when things were bad. James 1:2 states “Consider it a pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. PERSERVERANCE MUST FINISH ITS WORK SO THAT YOU MAY BE MATURE AND COMPLETE, LACKING NOTHING”.
For the many of us that have been laid off, we are now in throws of many trials. Our faith is now being tested. What James is telling us is that this is what will make us stronger and more complete people, leaders, managers, and employees. How do we persevere? How do we maintain ourselves in times of adversity? We learn from the example of Peter, and we have to understand, and BELIEVE Psalms 37.
To wrap this up there is one more thing to consider: the love that God has for us. Romans 8:18–39 describes this love, and what God is going to do for us. Here are a couple of quick highlights:
Romans 8:18 – “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.
Romans 8:26 – “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:38 – “neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither, the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A good friend and minister, Kevin Barnes, pointed this passage out to me. When I read it I began to think to myself… I have nothing to worry about. God loves me, He will provide for me.
These are my observations and my experiences over the last two weeks. I would encourage everyone who reads this to think about each of these passages and what it means to them.
I want to close with a powerful statement given by my Pastor. Every crossroad is a revelation of God ready to be revealed. When God moves sometimes it feels like there is a total demolition of everything you know, or have known for years. In my case, this knowledge base and comfort zone was built over the 9 years before the layoff. For those of us who have been laid off, our crossroad has appeared before us. God is beginning to move in our lives.