Technically, I got laid off yesterday. You know the drill. Enrollment is down, budget cuts happen. “She gone,” in the words of Pappy Robertson.
I’m feeling pretty raw and emotional about this. I loved this job more than I ever expected to. In fact, everything about the job was unexpected. One day, a year ago, I unexpectedly got a call out of the blue from the school offering me a full time job, in which I could design my own hours and come into the office on days I could swing it. Six months later, due to restructuring, I was moved out of that role and into a different one—unexpectedly. Now, six months after that, another surprise. No job.
I didn’t expect to learn new things about myself. I learned how to see deep into the heart of extremely hurting people. Very wealthy people send their kids to the school I worked at, and most of them tended to be pretty miserable. But, God gave me His power to somehow, miraculously, bring a smile to these people’s faces. Some of them I even became friends with, and over the front desk I got to share Jesus Christ with them. Just two days ago, I had a parent (who is notorious for being very difficult to work with) ask me why I was always so happy. I told her it was because of God. She replied,
“I know a lot of people who believe in God, and they’re all miserable.”
To which I replied, “My power is from Jesus Christ. He is who makes me want to smile.”
She nodded, and then told me she preferred to believe I had magical powers since she’s Jewish and Jesus doesn’t jive with her beliefs. But hey, I told her Truth.
I didn’t expect to have women share with me their devastation over being cheated on by their husbands or hurt by gossip or the vast amounts of loneliness they deal with. I didn’t expect that at all.
What is expected, though, is the heartache I feel right now. And honestly, I’ve never been one to look on the bright side. I think rose-colored glasses are dumb. It’s obvious to me that the stupid glass is definitely half empty…um, hello, you just DRANK half of it! Therefore you are now half way to being empty. It’s just the way my brain is wired. Some people call this pessimism, I call it realism. That being clearly stated, I am learning as I grow older and wiser, to teach myself how to add a very important aspect to my realism. It’s called being thankful. (Fitting for this time of year, don’t you think?) I think it’s totally okay to be a realist, as long as you are also a thankful-ist.
Psalm 50:14-15 says, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
The most interesting part of this verse is that God asks for something unique—a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Those two words don’t seem to go together. For me, the word sacrifice implies something of great hardship. To lose something or give something of great importance. There’s definitely an element of difficulty involved in sacrifice. But then when I think of the word thanksgiving, I see pilgrims and Native Americans, pumpkins and gourds, songs and cheery faces, neighbors being neighborly, love and joy. But that’s not what’s going on in these verses.
Giving thanks is SO EASY to do when times are great. When you’ve got groceries in the cupboards and gas in your tank and new clothes in the closet, it’s easy-peasy-slice-of-cheesy to say, “Thanks, God!” But it is desperately hard to do when you’ve just lost your job, or your health is failing, or a loved one has passed away, or the church has let you down, or a friend has hurt you, or your spouse has cheated, or your child won’t go to sleep…these aspects of life make it feel like giving thanks is an impossibility. Yet, that’s just what God asks for. THAT’S why it’s a sacrifice. It’s really hard. But, oh, does it smell so sweet to the Most High when the aroma of this sacrifice reaches the nostrils of our God. He then reaches down, and promises us right here and now that He will rescue us. Then we will turn right around and honor Him for being a-freaking-mazing!!!
So, yes, the good news is, I lost my job. There’s a million reasons to be thankful right now. So here are just a few of those million. Here is my sacrifice of thanksgiving:
Thank You for using me as a witness to lost and hurting people. Thank you that I now get to stay home again with my two beautiful babes. Thank you for a husband who has sat with me while I cried, hugged me while I left snot marks on his shirt and dabbed away tears after leaving mascara blobs on his collar. Thank you for friends who have called, texted, emailed and driven by to say they love me. Thank you for giving me another opportunity to trust You. I do not know how bills will be paid or how we will pay for any fun “extras”, but I am thankful I have You to guide me. Without You, I’d feel this mountain insurmountable. With You, I am able to look at this as the beginning of another exciting adventure. Thank you for Your great love for me, and thank You for my daughter who reminded me last night while I cried that “Jesus will wipe away all my tears. Don‘t be sad mommy.” Thank you for sweet words out of the mouths of babes. Thank you for Jesus, Your Son, who saves.