*Disclosure: This post was read and had every word approved by my husband prior to posting.*
The devil tried to bury me, but he didn’t realize I was a seed.
This was a quote I saw on Instagram this morning and I was struck by how appropriate it was for today. Because today, June 8th, 2016, is the one year anniversary of the day my husband lost his career.
Yes, I meant to say career, not job. You see new jobs are fairly easy to get after you’ve lost them. Specific careers? Not so much.
Three hundred and sixty-five days ago the door to my bedroom opened and I looked up to see my man with a look of complete and utter devestation on his face. Our lives as we knew it were completely over.
Of course we didn’t know that for sure yet. We only feared. We figured there was still hope for some future in my husband’s chosen profession. All we needed to do was not give up, right?
So we tried and tried and tried some more, until rejection just became expected. Application after application was denied, interviews with no phone calls back were the norm, and at the end of every day we were left begging for answers that no one was willing to give.
Many people suggested that this was a sign that God was closing the door on this chapter and perhaps my husband should pursue a new career. Very well meaning suggestions of course, but this was never “just” a career for him. This was his dream. This is what he believed with every fiber of his being God had created him to do. He had spent his entire life working and preparing for this one goal, and to just let it go felt like more than giving up, it felt like a lack of faith. And what if that was what God was asking of us? We found ourselves asking. What if we just need to trust Him to provide as we waited and persevered in faith?
So we had faith. Faith that our plans would line up with God’s and the prize was worth fighting for. I believed in my husband and supported him spending the next several months doing absolutely everything he could think of to earn his career back. We both knew it would take an investment of time, but we felt the end outcome was worth the patience and perseverance that it would take to get there. I was proud of the determination of my man. I was so thankful that he wasn’t a quitter and was willing to get back up no matter how many times he was knocked down. I desperately didn’t want to see him lose his dream, and I believed that it was was just a matter of time before someone saw all he had to offer.
But how long must we wait before God’s silence is translated as a no? How many rejections does it take before perseverance becomes stubbornness?
The answer is different for everybody and every situation, and only God can answer that. But for us, it was 11 months.
We had both reached the end of our rope. He was at the limit of all the defeat he could handle and I was at the limit of all the believing I could muster up. After spending almost an entire year praying for either a door to open, or a clear sign that it was indeed time to close the door on this chapter forever, he received a phone call from someone who cared enough about him to give the answers we had been searching for the whole time. This was our sign, our answer to prayer. God was gracious enough to let His “No” be as spelled out as you can get, and as extremely painful as it was to hear, we were so grateful to finally have closure and the freedom to let go without feeling like we were giving up.
So why are we celebrating today, a day that marks extreme pain and loss for us?
Here are some reasons why:
1) Just because we have fallen, doesn’t mean we are failures. My husband may have suffered defeat with this particular career, but he hasn’t failed at life. He can hold his head high knowing that he gave it his 110% and did what he believed with all his heart God was calling him to, for as long as God purposed him to pursue it. That makes him a winner. Romans 8:37 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” In order to be a conqueror, we have to get back up after we have already fallen down. This is where the conquering is done! But the good news is that in Christ, the battle isn’t all up to us. He is fighting on our behalf, and our biggest failures can be transformed into our biggest victories because of what He has already accomplished for us! Because a life defined by defeat is never a part of God’s plan for us, we can know that even if our plans look diferently than what we imagined, God has victory in store! Which leads me to my next reason:
2) The future God is building for us is good Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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.” The other day, someone said that my husband’s old place of employment ruined his life. And I’m not gonna lie, there have been many, many days when we have echoed that statement in our hearts over the last year. We have both gone through all the dark emotions of anger, resentment, fear, grief, and hopelessness that come from being unemployed. But even though they may have ruined his career, they don’t have the power to ruin our lives. God is so much bigger than any decision man can make over our lives and the plans He has for us are so much bigger than any one career! What we do, does not define us, contrary to what we all tend to believe most of the time. Now who He says we are? That’s what defines us! And He calls us, chosen, beloved, and His. He is a good father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. He has designed us all with unique gifts and abilities that He doesn’t plan on wasting! So even if the career that my husband had planned for his whole life isn’t meant to carry him through the rest of his life, it’s not like God used up all my husband had to offer and He doesn’t have anything better for him to do. My husband is an extremely gifted man! And God has got big plans for him, whatever they may be. Our story is not over yet.
3) Our darkest days can be redeemed for good. This year has been hands down the hardest year of my life. I’m just being real with you, here. And I know my husband would say the same thing for himself. In addition to the pain of losing both his career and his dream, I delivered our second son three months early and he spent two months in the hospital. We’ve gone through the stress of finances, health concerns, caring for two children under three, family stresses, and the pressure that all of this has put on our marriage. I’m not trying to make it out like our suffering is the worst imaginable, because it totally isn’t! There are so many people who are facing trials infinitely worse than ours! We really do consider ourselves to be incredibly blessed and have been well provided for in so many ways. But with all that said, it’s still just been a crappy year!
However, even with all the pain, and regardless of how difficult our circumstances may be, or how unknown the future may look, this is what I know to be true: Our days are never so dark that they are without hope, and our circumstances are never so broken that they cannot be redeemed. This has been my anchor and what has given me the strength to keep going this year and it’s what gives me the hope and courage to face the unknown. Our God is in the business of redeeming things, people! It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or had done to us, or how far gone we think we are, or how impossible things may seem. God takes our brokenness and creates beauty. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Nothing is too broken for Jesus.
My husband and I were talking yesterday and we decided that we weren’t going to let misery and loss define June 8th, so we decided to call it “New Chapter Day”. We have spent enough time mouring what is past and we are hopeful for what is ahead! For the first time in a long time, I can honestly say that we feel excited for our future, and we thought it would be cool to mark this significant day in our lives! So after hearing that quote from earlier, we decided to plant a tree to symbolize the new growth that is springing forth from all that the devil tried to bury us with this year. We won’t be defeated. We’ve got lots of fruit to bear! And that is something to celebrate!
That doesn’t mean that sorrow won’t still exist. I know even when my husband has moved on and is rocking it in some new career,there will still be a part of him that will always grieve the loss of his dream. But I am learning that not only is it possible for joy and sorrow to co-exist, but we can still thrive in the complex interweaving of the two. You see, the fact is, that going through suffering of any kind leaves a person changed. There’s no going back to who we once were. Our new person might look quite different. We might carry some battle scars, or have a little bit of innocence gone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have joy. No, not at all. We can still be whole. We can still be glorious.
So here is to new chapters and new dreams and new life! May you spring forth new life in whatever season you are in!
And while you’re at it, go ahead and tell the devil where to go and how to get there, for me, will ya?
P.S. Check out this awesome song. It’s all about redemption. Which also means it’s all about your life. You probably already know it, but I think you’ll like listening again. Beautiful Things – Gungor