“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
That’s good advice coming from the much loved ‘Cat in the Hat’ children’s writer, Dr Seuss. A friend recently reminded me of those famous words, as I faced the grim reality of losing my Radio Producer job thanks to a staff “re-shuffle” and a continuously shrinking production budget. “But we’ve built up a brand new audience from scratch!” I said incredulously, “and we’re getting umpteen callers every night….how can you cut this show in its prime?” My powers of persuasion which had got me the job in the first place and had previously secured a plethora of quality guests, were failing me miserably now. I may as well be talking to a brick wall…
One minute I’m treated like the best thing since sliced bread and the next, I’m out in the cold clutching a bunch of flowers with platitudes ringing in my ears; “things happen for a reason….when one door closes, another one opens” and my personal favourite; “God works in mysterious ways.” Then follows my assault on God’s ears with a barrage of searching questions, “Why me? Why now? Why did you lead me here in first place?” And more importantly, “How am I going to pay the rent?”
Whether we like it or not, everyone encounters change at some point, but how do we cope if it’s not initiated by us? As the old saying goes, “a change is as good as a rest,” but at that moment in time I was feeling far from restful. If anything, I was displaying the classic text book symptoms of denial, then anger followed by bargaining with my employer which was getting me nowhere which eventually gave way to reluctant acceptance. The sooner we stop wallowing in self pity and accept change, the sooner we can move onto greener pastures. If God has got something fresh and new in store for us, why are we fighting tooth and nail to keep something way past its sell by date? Life always moves on and so should we.
“For I KNOW the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and NOT TO HARM YOU – plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jeremiah, ch 29, vs 11)
As soon as I found a quiet place and prayed, the feelings of panic, anger, hurt and insecurity drained away from me and God’s peace flooded my human emotions, reminding me that He is ultimately in control and He is my boss, regardless of my earthly management.
“And we know that in ALL THINGS, God works for THE GOOD of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans ch 8, vs 28)
If we genuinely believe that God is in charge and that nothing is impossible for him, he is more than capable of turning ANY situation around for the better.
RECOGNISE THAT GOD IS OUR ROCK WHO NEVER CHANGES...
Part of my problem is remembering that what I do is not the be all and end all of me. I have to constantly remind myself that my work is just a fraction of what I’m all about. Relying on my fluctuating employment as my main source of affirmation, security and acceptance is dangerous. My identity is in Christ and I’m realising that my self worth is not dependent on whether my short term contract gets extended or whether I’m able to wangle extra shifts or not. God loves me extravagantly regardless of my employment status. I’m learning but it’s hard, especially when my visible emotions and circumstances tell me one thing and my invisible God commands me to totally rely on him for all of my needs.
“And my God will meet ALL YOUR NEEDS according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians ch 4, vs 19)
LIVE IN THE MOMENT...
Sudden change can either make us regret the past and make us dwell on the shoulda, coulda, wouldas or make us worry about the uncertainty of our future. Both scenarios are a total waste of time and energy.
"Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past.”(Isaiah, ch 43, vs 18)
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew, ch 6, vs 34)
Easier said than done I know, but there’s a good reason why ‘the now’ is called “the present” – it’s a gift from God!! You can’t do anything about yesterday and you don’t know what your future holds, so do what you can today and leave the rest to Him.
Nothing made sense to me. As far as I was concerned, my situation defied logic. My natural response was to think badly of those who let me go and analyse to death every past conversation for clues. Try not to get bitter and twisted about what’s happened - resentment is not a trait that potential employers are looking for. The less I focused on the supposed injustice to myself, the more I realised I was just a small part of a bigger picture that was probably beyond the control of my seniors. The more I zoomed out, the more my perspective changed.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs, ch 3, vs 5)
However uncomfortable, change makes us grow and teaches us new things. Without change, we would never realise our potential or learn anything. What we want and what we need are quite often not the same thing in my experience. We don’t always need what we want and we don’t always want what we need. Even though life through our lens can look very blurry at times, rest assured that God’s vision and purpose for us is crystal clear.
TREAT EVERY JOB AS A GIFT RATHER THAN A RIGHT...
I have a habit of throwing myself into my work so much that some people can’t tell where the job ends and Claire begins. It becomes too precious or in other words, an idol.
Holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom once said,
"Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open."
Ain’t that the truth?! Nothing is forever in this life – jobs come and go. The media industry is constantly contracting or expanding and evolving. How often do we revisit a former employer a few years down the line, only to find that many of the staff aren’t there any more? There’s no point clinging onto every moment – every moment passes.
BELIEVE THAT BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE DO ACTUALLY EXIST...
I gloomily worked my notice, determined to deliver every programme to the highest possible standard in spite of my circumstances – I believed there was still time for the powers that be to come to their senses! But the end date loomed like a scary precipice. I continued to network and email CVs hoping and praying someone out there would take me on. Not everyone got back to me and I began to feel abandoned and afraid with every passing day, not helped by the constant barrage of bad news about unemployment. I had no choice but to cling to God who was my only true hope.
On the last day of my contract and on the first day of my unemployment, I received two phone calls from potential employers both offering me work. One of them is the most creative organisation in the world and the other is an amazingly supportive resource for Christians working in the media. When one door closed, I didn’t expect two to open - God is indeed good.
Two tools you may find useful in times of change….
THE SERENITY PRAYER...
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
A book entitled, ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ By Spencer Johnson.
Claire Gilderson, theMediaNet Web Editor and Freelance Radio Producer