Black Friday, Bright Sunday

A year ago I was laid off from a place that I loved.

While I was fortunate and eventually had a second act, my other colleagues who were laid off did not. Thankfully, nearly all of them have landed in better situations twelve months later. 

There’s so much I still want to clarify about how things went down, but that’s not my calling. Instead, I want to share what happened to me afterward. And it all starts with this picture:

I coach my daughter’s soccer team every year, but last fall was the most challenging season I've ever had. There were issues both on and off the field.

  • At the very beginning of the season, a child had a parent unexpectedly die
  • One of my assistant coaches was recovering from cancer
  • The other assistant lost their job right before the season started
  • We had a minimal roster, often playing with either one or no substitutes
  • We were in league where many of the schools also fielded their select-level players, so we got smashed nearly every game. 

But these kids never gave up. They had great attitudes. I was so proud of them.

I told Kelly that I wanted to do something special: I wanted to buy the girls custom shirts for the end of the season. Since it would be a small order, I couldn’t get a bulk discount so the shirts were a little pricey. Still, it seemed totally worth it. I got sizes and shirt numbers, and placed the order.

On October 22nd, I picked the shirts up. They were in my office that Friday afternoon when I walked in after getting fired. 

Those shirts were in the front seat of my car on the ride home from work. I felt like an idiot for having spent so much on shirts when I was going to have to worry about how to provide for my family. I kept assuring myself that we’d ultimately be OK; God had always provided for us, even when we couldn’t see the way out. But even though I felt I believed this, those shirts were staring back at me, a cruel symbol of my weak faith.

The next day was our final soccer game. I was still feeling down so I was thankful for something to take my mind off of things. When the girls showed up at the field, we handed out the shirts. They loved them. And they actually won that last game, playing better than they had in any game that season. I finally fully embraced peace. That night, I wrote the post that helped CCU weather that difficult time. And every time I see that shirt in my closet or put it on, it makes me happy. It's become a reminder of God's care and deliverance.

And that’s why the picture above is one of my favorite pictures. It captured almost the exact moment when I realized that God is truly in control and the everything would be alright. While the next months didn't bring full peace, I’m sitting here a year later thinking that it worked out better than I could ever have imagined. I have a ridiculously amazing job that I love and I know I'm still following his calling. Last October 23rd was the lowest of the lows. I can honestly say that I'm now experiencing the highest of the highs. I guess my Mt Nebo metaphor was flawed, because I'm now standing on the other bank of the Jordan River. 

With the leap year, this anniversary takes place on a Sunday, so I get to worship the Lord this morning. I'm so looking forward to this. My understanding of my place in his kingdom ultimately brought me through. So I don’t know where you’re at today. Maybe you’re facing a low moment yourself and need some encouragement. If so, remember this: even when you can’t see where things are heading, trust that God is working out all things for you. He loves you and he's looking out for you. Believe.

Oh, and I’m totally wearing that shirt today.