That’s how the text read to my wife’s cell phone on April 8, 2009 at 9:39 a.m. I knew it was coming. We all did. Still, there’s nothing like actually hearing that your entire department is no longer wanted or needed. “Your last day will be July 31.” I can’t remember too much about the day, I do remember that I worked that Wednesday night at UPS – got off at 4 a.m. and then went to lunch with April. At that lunch after having had about four hours of sleep, April began pressing me on what ‘the plan’ was. ‘I don’t know.’ ‘What do you mean you don’t know? You always have a plan.’ ‘I don’t have a plan, I don’t know what we’re going to do.’ That’s pretty much all I can quote from the discussion (putting to mildly) we had that day at the Beef O’ Brady’s in Fern Creek.
I had no idea how things were going to turn out. My desire was to trust the Lord, knowing that He would provide. Besides, I would get a nice severance, unemployment benefits, etc. and we’d be fine for a good long while. But then what? There’s a certain amount of healthy pressure to provide for a wife and seven children – thankfully, we have very little debt but a mortgage payment and groceries (our two biggest expenses), that really adds up.
I really hated the idea of job searching and having to sell my skillset (I use the term very loosely) to a prospective employer. I’m not ‘that guy’. I hate networking, I hate foity toity luncheons, slapping backs, laughing at stupid stories – and most everything that goes with it. Besides, I knew my line of business at the bank, I’d been in it for 15 years and figured someone would pick me up, somewhere, because of my astounding (please note the sarcasm) floorplan knowledge. But, as the Lord would have it, it rarely works out the you think it will.
In early July, some positions came open at the acquiring bank. I applied for four of them. I received two rejects on the positions that I thought I was best suited for. Then, the job that I thought I was least likely to get a call on asked if I could interview July 26th – the Monday before my last day. Of course, I jumped at the chance, wanting to keep my five weeks vacation, insurance benefits, retirement, etc. The difficult thing is that they would have to make me an offer and I would have to accept – all before I left July 31st – or I would lose my benefits (at least that’s what the recruiter said).
The interview went okay – but at the end, I told them the pickle I was in – “I need an offer ASAP, if you like me.” I’ve interviewed folks and I typically don’t like them putting me on their timetable but there was a lot at stake. Blessedly, they did offer – on Tuesday! Now, we had some things to iron out and I didn’t think it was going to work out. I even woke on up July 31st and told my daughter, “This is it. I don’t think I’m going to be employed on Monday.” But again, the Lord was exceedingly merciful and I received a phone call at 10 a.m. saying that all of the wrinkles had been ironed out.
So, it’s a year later. What has changed? Everything. And if you know my schedule from my old job, you know I really do mean everything. No more working from home. No more coming and going as I please. No more trips to Dayton, Cincinnati, Lexington, Ashland to find good Mexican places on the bank’s money (I did audits there, Mexican was a good by-product of the trip). No more being a night owl. No more taking a day of vacation when I feel like because it’s “such a nice day”.
Again, it’s a year later. What has changed? Nothing. I still enjoy my work. I’ve met some great folks -I’ve got my Diet Dew buddy, we go get a our 32 oz. cups filled every morning and spend time chatting about family and movies and such. We worked right across from each other for six months before they moved all of us into our cubes but he’s a great guy and I’m so thankful to have had those six months to chat with him all day, everyday. But I’ve also met a dear, dear brother in Christ. I am so thankful to have someone of like faith and like heart – a wanting to know and love the Lord Jesus – a desire to serve Him and a seeking to be the man that God calls him to be – those men are rare. True Christian friendship is a wonderful treasure and a token of God’s blessing – I am so thankful for those few close friendships the Lord has given me.
But you know the biggest thing that hasn’t changed? The Lord’s faithfulness to me and to my family. I am amazed at His steadfast love in spite of my faltering and wavering faith. I am so thankful that a year later, by the grace of God, I am still walking in the truth – that hasn’t changed. I am so thankful that a year later, by the grace of God, I can say with the Psalmist “Bless the Lord, O my soul. And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” What the next year will bring – I have no idea. But I pray that a year from now, I will still be able to say that He has forgiven all my iniquities, He’s redeemed my life from destruction, and He’s still crowned my life with lovingkindness and tender mercies.