I won’t go into too much detail here, because I don’t want to give cause for a misinterpretation of events; but this little incident was too good not to share. Stay tuned for one tiny peek at an unplanned and unexpected but very welcome Redemptive Moment. 🙂
I WAS FIRED.
I was fired. Yep – not from my present job, but the job I had before. It’s been nearly 8 years since I went through very rough waters with a former employer, both sides feeling justified in a growing distrust and mutual dissatisfaction, and a painful ordeal that was only survived with some grace because of a gracious mediator who walked us through the transition that would ultimately lead to me training my own replacement.
This was a life-altering experience for me – not just because it was so devastating to not be believed, not be trusted, and feel I had NO earthly way to rectify the opinions of others, but mainly because this was a small family owned business, and these were people I had known for YEARS before working there, had gone to CHURCH with them, had what I thought was a loving relationship with them and their kids outside any workplace association. Yet in the months when everything unraveled and in the subsequent mutual parting of ways, everything in our friendship and association also vanished.
MEMORY IS A TRICKY THING.
From what I understand – and please, I’m not a scientist, so let’s just chalk this up to being a bit of an internet and news junkie – our brains RE-remember every time we visit a “memory,” and HOW we perceive is fluid, always changing – almost as if the memories themselves are living things – and yet our CONVICTIONS about what we remember are equally as strong in the 10th telling (which for some people will be much more varied from the first telling than others) even if the content (unbeknownst to us) may differ in significant ways.
Perhaps that’s a good argument for keeping a journal – provided we can be trusted to recount events honestly to ourselves, which sometimes may be a big “if.” 🙂
As for me? Here? I remember more the emotions, the hurt, the suspicion, or the anger – even the fury – sometimes directed at me. I remember returning some of the same. Present emotions often register as shame, regret, sorrow, that wishful longing that things had been different, that I had DONE things differently.
A BROKEN WINDSHIELD TO HEAL.
By happenstance, my car recently suffered (another) windshield injury. I looked up a repair shop online, not fully registering the location of the address, and mistakenly assessing it to be closer to my job for a quick lunch visit. In fact, this shop was several miles away, in the neighborhood of my previous place of employment. And I arrived to learn my windshield was non-repairable – I would have to reschedule for another visit to have the whole thing replaced. So by happenstance *ahem* I found myself with some time to kill before going back to work, AND within just a couple blocks of this place which attaches to so many significant negative (but growth-inducing) emotions.
So I decided to drop in for a visit.
And I found that the son has since bought the business from his parents, the wife (daughter-in-law) now manages the main office and the books, and though the mom no longer works there, the dad still weaves in and around the office, cheerfully advertising, don’t you know, that the KFC founder didn’t really get his business feet under him till he was 80 years old, so there!
I found that the gal who had replaced me was years gone, and the gal I had replaced more years before was now working there again. I found that the business had weathered the economic downturn seemingly well, and that the gracious mediator I had hoped to revisit had resigned just a few months before to pursue more missions-minded work in another city. How fitting. 🙂
There was shock expressed over how much weight I’ve lost (they all knew me at my unhealthiest), there was curiosity about the house I’ve recently purchased, my now living near my sister so many miles away from my current job, and the nearly 8 years I’ve now been with the same employer. We visited about changes in our church experiences, changes in our country, and in short how the years mature us .. if we let them. 🙂
There were smiles, even a few hugs, and they let me wander out back until I found the 80+ year old dad lifting his face to soak up a little sun behind the shop, enjoying a quiet smoke break, standing just exactly as I remember him .. I got to visit with him for a few minutes, and … was that “relief” spreading over his face? To learn that I was now in such a good place, healthy and happy and well cared for …. I left well-wishes for everyone, and asked the dad to take a love greeting to his wife, my former boss, too.
Then another round of hugs and affirmations for the healing time can minister, and we all marveled once again at how .. Paths can cross and sever, but God is still God of us all, and – for those who will humbly yield to it – his grace is greater than what we allow to divide ….
I think I will never again feel as much GRATITUDE as I did that day for a badly timed rock bouncing on the freeway on my commute to work. 😉 Miracles can spring forth from the most unlikely of places, don’t you know.
And just for the record, I don’t believe in “happenstance.” 😉
or a Foolish approach to a (nevertheless) Genuine desire to serve Christ?
I have learned of a family (2 parents, 4 children all under age of 10) “raising support” for a so-called 6-week missions trip to Africa to the tune of $30,000…a trip during which they MIGHT be helping this ministry to do some construction, and they MIGHT be teaching vacation Bible school to some local children, that is IF they are allowed in, and if not, well – this ministry would just enjoy the family’s company as they visit, so would you please make your checks payable to Family-Dad/Husband by such and such date….
WHAT?? I do not see anything of the Spirit of God in this! – NO calling, NO clear direction, NO confidence that the Lord has prepared the way for the declaration of his word, NO “transparency” as far as the ethics of raising that kind of sum, NOT EVEN a way to have spiritual oversight for the trip? such as would be required to raise money through AT LEAST a sending church?, and an up-front resignation to the fact this may just be a 6-week vacation, basically, for their family of six, and so, would y’all be so kind as to fund it for them?? I will be so bold as to cry: Fraud and veritable Embezzlement in the name of Christ!! (My boldness comes, too, in part for knowing some of the family dynamic, here….)
I find this intolerable!! (and an OFFENSE to my heart, for Christ’s sake!)
So, I hope I have advised my friend wisely – I have directed him to follow the pattern set forth in Matthew 18:15-20 – Approach your “brother” whom you believe to be in sin, openly (humbly) asking questions so you are able to DISCERN if this is just foolishness or willful selfishness; offer either confrontation of sin, or wisdom to correct the folly, and if your “brother” remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, involve a mediator – In this case, I suggested my friend seek the input, then, of your family’s elder in your church, perhaps ask some more questions to gain additional discernment, and approach your “brother” again with the elder present. If your “brother” still remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, be prepared, because this may need to be brought publicly before the whole church – especially if your “brother” has sent this “support” letter to other members w/o the Leadership’s knowledge/approval/support, and is therefore potentially sinning against (stealing from!) the whole Body.
Oh, God help us, we are ALL of us foolish at times. Sure enough! And I hope, by GRACE, that if I were so publicly zealous in my folly (before God, I am sure I have been, at times!) that I would be approached lovingly and carefully by a brother/sister in Christ to at least seek out my motivation, discern my heart, and offer counsel if not correction. And if I were so “foolish” to SIN blatantly in this way, I would hope for Christ’s sake! that someone would intervene that I might not bring such shame to the cause of Christ.
But still? And failing all other intervention? I pray that God, by his GRACE, would nevertheless cover ALL of our own foolishness and sinfulness with the blood of Christ and STILL bring about some good for his Glory, that we might nevertheless say with the Apostle Paul – imprisoned and bad-mouthed by other “preachers” of the Gospel, and exactly in a situation when we might expect him to “defend” himself and rebuke the nay-sayers/abusers – in Philippians 1:12-21 ~
They Can’t Imprison the Message
12-14 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.
15-17 It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
Glory to God! and Help us all, in JESUS’ name….