This last year I’ve been working as Director of Product Management for Agent Image, also known as The Design People.
Thursday, I got an invitation by email from my boss, one of the company owners, to join him and the other two owners later that day in a meeting titled “Update”. I’ll admit I was suspicious. I knew how difficult recent times have been for the company.
At the appointed time, I launched the video app I use to join meetings (I work remotely) and quickly found that only one of them had decided to show up. This raised my suspicions.
On the video feed I could tell the poor guy was tortured by something. He was far more fidgety than usual; I knew right away my suspicions were correct.
I should note, this is an extraordinarily nice person. He means well, has a great heart, and it was difficult to watch him have to do this “we-just-can’t-afford-to-keep-you” thing. I’ll admit, I made him go through the whole spiel without a comment or expression from me. I just sat back and listened until he stopped talking.
But when he was done, I called him by name, and said, “… it’s all right, I’ll be just fine”. I told him that I’d been on his side of the table before, and understood just how hard that is, and reassured him that he shouldn’t worry about me.
I closed the video program and sat there looking at my computer screen.
At that moment, perhaps I should have been thinking about my 6 kids. Or about how it was almost Christmas, and how much it would change now. I should have been thinking about how difficult it is right now to find a job, and how much I don’t want to be like my first three fathers, who all (try as they might) were repeatedly unable to provide well (that story here).
I should have been worried about keeping our house, having burned through our nest egg between the last two jobs, and not getting a severance this time (“can’t afford it”).
I should have been worried about my beautiful wife who is a full-time mom to a large family, her life’s dream, and her ability to keep that dream.
But I’ll admit, I was none of those things.
Perhaps being laid off last year before Christmas changed me. I experienced all these things then. Then, I was humiliated, embarrassed, and angry.
Not this time.
This time all I felt was excitement.
Perhaps it was the emergence of my faith and trust in the Lord, he having shown me over the last year that he will provide. Perhaps it was the surfacing of my self confidence, which had been bolstered this past year as I took careful inventory of the skills and abilities which I have been given. Perhaps it was because I have had ongoing insight as to how to turn this life-engineering hobby into a career, and have felt anxious to get started.
Perhaps it was all of these, and more. And while some of those (mostly the anger) came in modest amounts later, the predominant emotion has still been excitement.
Excitement to devote more time and emotion to life-enginering. Something I should have done after having lost my job last year, but didn’t. It was like I had neglected the path I was intended for, and to help me on my way, had the reset button pushed on my career, once again, to give me a second chance.
Most of all, it was a reminder of a true principle. All too often, hidden within the consequences of painful adversity, lie the greatest opportunities. If life was robbed of adversity and conflict, what growth would there be? True discovery, discovery of things that are everlastingly meaningful, are hidden within tough challenges and worthy quests.
This holiday season, my joy is full, for I have been given a most precious gift. I have been given a true challenge. I have a vision of something more that I can become, of something greater that I can do, and now an opportunity and motivation to make it happen.
How exciting. I can think of no greater gift, for a person like me, than a real challenge, uniquely tailored to me, with the promise of a remarkable journey for me and my family that is sure to be remembered for a long time to come.
While I don’t wish for anyone else to lose their jobs, I do hope you find your Christmas equally stimulating, and choose to see within your current circumstance opportunities for greatness. Make life a journey, and make it something to remember.