A tree of Life

I’m going back to work on Monday. It will be good to go back to having an income 😉

More than that, I know the guy I’m going to work for having worked for him and with him in two previous lives (jobs for the uninitiated). He is a good leader, ’cause he “gets it” and his group (or the part I met during the interview process) seems like a cohesive team (always a +). The company is (I think) a pretty neat technology outfit, and they are (I know) well positioned for growth during the next round of technology push out of this downturn. All in all I could not be happier with the outcome. So thank you Jesus, this is a tree of life.

I am a fortunate man. I love my wife, I’m proud of my children, I’ve been able to make a pretty good living doing something I really enjoy. I’m a pretty happy guy, and why shouldn’t I be.

But happiness isn’t really so much situational. There are plenty of other people in my approximate situation who are not happy, not satisfied. Why is that?

Attitude has a lot to do with it I think. I’m a sappy Christian, a Pollyanna. I have this naive notion that God is in charge and it will eventually all work out. Don’t get me wrong, I wept tears of anguish and sorrow in my bed over these last few months. I’m an older guy (59) in a young man’s game (technology) and I was let go from my last two jobs after relatively short stays. Before this downturn I had never been out of work. During the downturn in the early 90’s I started a new job on the Monday after the start-up I was working in closed its doors on Friday. During the dot-com bust my boss called me into his office on layoff day and told me he was laid off but I was staying!

That changed a couple of years ago when I was fired from a position of responsibility “without cause” (official reason given to unemployment) at the beginning of this downturn. I tend to minimize my contribution to that event since they also fired the guy they hired to replace me after just 8 months (I was there for 12 and left him a working organization that hadn’t been there when I arrived). After a 3 month hiatus (in the pits of the economic doldrums) I was able to get a job at another start-up (30% pay cut & much less responsibility). At first I didn’t want the job because it wasn’t a good fit and what you are making for a wage (generally) defines what you can make for a wage. However I prayed about it and was convinced the right course of action was to swallow my pride and take the job. I pretty much started looking for another after just a few months. I just didn’t fit with the people or the technology. I had some interviews but even when they looked like sure things (“you are the top candidate out of 3 and we have 2 openings”) they just didn’t work out. Finally after 15 months the start-up did some housecleaning and I was one of the folks swept away 😉 That was seven months ago.

In this situation my work history and salary are shot and I’m (well) over the hill. Studies are showing that older workers are suffering disproportionately in this economic climate. My prospects looked pretty poor, and that was the optimistic take (as one placement consultant actually told me). I had reason to “weep on my bed”.

Then I got sick.

Diabetes came on very quickly over the holidays and because we were changing health coverage I didn’t have a doctor and couldn’t get an appointment. I lost 10% of my body weight in a few weeks and ended up in the hospital for a couple of days. When I came home I looked frail and felt even older.

Now the thing is I had a “moment” back at the beginning of this process when I was praying, specifically about the prospect of becoming a sidelined and possibly bitter old man. The “moment” was an understanding that my pride was a big part of why I didn’t look forward to that eventuality, and that God was willing to bless me even though it was my pride that was part of what sent Him to Calvary. See, I wasn’t really “bad”, but I counted on myself. I was proud of my abilities and thought that I had earned my success such as it was. Oh, I was a Christian and understood that He gives us what we have, but I didn’t really “see” it. What got me, what broke my heart, what made me weep like a baby was the conviction that even though I was proud, even while I was still proud, even though it would satisfy my pride He loved me so much He was willing to give me what I longed for, the opportunity to still contribute in a profession that I loved.

It was so real I couldn’t even tell anyone at first without scaring them because I would just bawl about it. Finally my wife told me I had to keep it to myself, and I did.

But I’m telling you now (and it still makes me weep).

I went into the hospital January 8th. I started exercising after a few weeks and gradually stopped the insulin and other medications. I had my three month checkup on Monday and my numbers are well into the normal range. In March my “boss-to-be” came looking for me. I was of course doing what I could to find a job, sending out resumes and trying to start a business (or businesses) with another associate. But I didn’t find this job, it found me. I’m excited by the possibilities of the work, I’m confident in the team of people I will be working with and the salary is back in the range I had before the downturn.

This story does bear a slight resemblance to the book of Job, but I’m not THAT successful (or proud).  However, I will share two things that recently jumped out at me from that book.

The first is Job 36:15 (Bible in Basic English version) “He makes the wrong done to the poor the way of their salvation, opening their ears by their trouble.”

What this says to me is that God sometimes lets “bad things” happen so that we will turn to Him with open ears and open hearts.

The other is Job 42:5 (Bible in Basic English version) “Word of you had come to my ears, but now my eye has seen you.”

What this says to me is that once we have turned to Him and listened to what He is trying to tell us we understand who He is in our personal experience, and that makes all the difference.

I’m a happy guy, and why shouldn’t I be, “longing fulfilled is a tree of life”.

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