Board of Directors

I’ve been trying to put my finger on an aspect of this job loss transition that’s making me really uneasy. It kind of feels like I’m standing all alone. Unsupported. It’s scary and unfamiliar. In some ways, it feels good to stand on my own two feet and listen to my own heart and trust the work that God has done in my life. In other ways, it feels super confusing and I feel unsure about my decisions. What do I do now??

My mother-in-law (Miriam Neff of Widow Connection) is a big believer in having a personal board of directors – especially during times of vulnerability. Loss of a spouse, financial crisis, job loss. This isn’t a literal board of directors who meet in a conference room and talk about your life. It’s a group of trusted friends who have your best interests in mind. They are wise people who you can go to for advice. Each person might have a different area of expertise – financial, household, workplace, relationship, etc. – or they may be people you see as generally wise. I’ve watched her gather people around her after her husband died in 2006. This group of people have been very important to her decision-making process.

I’ve realized that I’m missing my board of directors. In my job, I had a built-in board – a great team who I absolutely trusted. I could count on them for honest feedback and helpful suggestions, not only for my job, but for my life. I’m becoming more aware that my team scenario was a rare and beautiful gift to me.

Now that my team is scattered, I need to be more intentional about getting feedback from others. This isn’t always so easy for me – I can be a bit of a loner. I don’t mean to exclude people, I just assume that they don’t have time or don’t care about what I have cooking in my life.

My growth edge these days? Let some people in closer. Take some risks. Speak up and assume that they *might* be a bit interested. I’m willing to give it a try.

Inside “The End”, Part 6

(Read Part 5 here)

While processing the end of Midday Connection (a national program that aired for over 20 years on Moody Radio and I had worked with for 15 years), I urgently spent the first weeks trying to figure out what I’ll do next for a job. It was such a big mental shift to imagine life away from Midday Connection.

One morning, as I walked to work, my brain was on hyper-speed, panic mode. Should I go back to school? Should I quickly get trained in some sort of skill? Should I get certified in something? The world felt big and I was panicked to fit somewhere, feeling inadequate for another job. I gasped out a prayer, “God, what should I do?? Tell me!”

I’ve only felt God speak to me three times in my life – and what God says to me is always a message of grace, peace, and love… and in all three cases, what I heard was not at all what I expected. In the instant after I prayed that morning, I felt God say to me, “You have everything you need for what’s next.” Woah. If it wasn’t for the broken glass, mysterious decomposed food item, and dog urine on the sidewalk, I would have sprawled out on the ground in relief. My shoulders relaxed, I began to cry. Really, God? Could it be that I can just relax and trust You?

These days, I’m trying to hold on to what I know to be true:
1) God loves me.
2) I can trust God.
3) I don’t have to have it all figured out right now.

(Read part 7 here)

The Dumpster

We share a driveway with our neighbor. Our front doors face each other and we see each other a lot. Our neighbor is wonderful – driven, strong, creative, positive. Since she moved in several years ago, she has worked non-stop to make the home her own.  It’s an inspiration!

dumpsterShe’s currently in the middle of a major demolition project. For the past two months, a large dumpster has taken up residence in our shared driveway. Some days, it’s acquires more stuff, but most days it just sits there and doesn’t “do” anything.

Yesterday was a rough day for me. Sadness, it’s-not-fair-ness, jealousy, feeling diminished, unwanted. I usually fight the sadness because in the past it’s led me to a pretty deep pit of depression. But, yesterday I decided to just give in and trust that God was leading me to just *feel* it. It felt so freeing to give myself permission to mulligrub and sulk for a day. It felt right.

Today, I woke up feeling more energy and hope. I drank my coffee in my chair, as I do each morning, looking out the window. At the dumpster. I felt a burst of impatience and anger. Why can’t that beast of a dumpster just GO AWAY? It’s so unsightly and it feels like a big bully – crowding, unyielding, refusing to be ignored.

Aaaaand… here’s another case of “the thing isn’t really The Thing”. I wasn’t really angry at the dumpster. That dumpster was talking to me about my grief. I’m so impatient for my grief to go GO AWAY.  It’s messy and won’t be ignored. There it sits – front and center in my life. Some days, I feel like there’s progress, but most days it just sits there.

So, here I am. Living with my dumpster of grief. I don’t feel despair, rather I feel some acceptance of this piece of my life. Like it’s okay to give in to the sadness from time to time.

Maybe I’ll put sparkly Christmas lights on it since it’ll be here for a while. Then, maybe whenever I encounter it, I can remember that deeper work is happening even when I can’t see it.

Inside “The End”, Part 5

(Read Part 4 here)

One of the big things I noticed right away is that a lot of people treat you differently when they find out you’re losing your job. I was surprised at who reached out and who didn’t. Some people avoided me or unintentionally (?) said really hurtful and insensitive things. Some people who I have a lot of history with were eerily silent. That was crushing and confusing.

The people who reached out to me kind of surprised me, honestly. Most of them were people who I didn’t necessarily feel very close to. They gave me kind and honest words, hugs, texts, emails, cups of coffee, cards… I saw a new and beautiful side to these people – an angle that I hadn’t noticed before.

This piece of pain has caused me to go back to coworkers who lost their jobs before me and apologize for my silence. I wish I’d been one of the people who went to them with hugs, kind words, cards… but, it was so easy to allow busyness, fear, uncertainty to silence me.

I think there’s a gift in this pain. I hear people differently these days. I listen with a different understanding. I speak with a different understanding. Even though I’ve disliked the question, “What do you do for a living?” for a long time, I *really* dislike it now. That question leaves me in stunned silence – how do I answer that now? Instead of that question, I’m trying to ask a more open question, “How do you spend your days?” I also know more what it’s like to feel alone, angry, afraid, trusting God when I can’t see what’s ahead, confused, and the confidence-crushing reality of losing a job.

It’s awkward and messy business walking with people in pain. Grieving people can be prickly and hard to be around, so I also understand why some people “gave me space”. I’m learning more about the importance of extending grace and love to prickly, hurting people. I’m more willing to risk some awkwardness on my part – yes, I might accidentally say or do the wrong thing, but I want to show up for others. I’m grateful for that lesson in compassion.

In your times of grief, what has been the best thing another person did for you?

…read Part 6…

No

His email came out of the blue. A retired, successful businessman – no slouch. I want to always stay open and be teachable, so I took in his words.

He suggested told me to:
Get rid of your chair. It is only a reminder of sadness, you need to move on.
Delete your Facebook account. It’s a waste of time.
Delete your blog. You’re saying too much.

I didn’t know this man, so why did his big voice make me shake inside? I had felt good about being myself, about my vulnerability and honesty. I suddenly questioned my motives and activity. I questioned my grieving process and emotions. I sat with his email all day, thinking, praying, talking to a few wise people in my life, feeling wobbly.

It made me think of 1 Samuel 1 – Hannah was desperately praying in the temple… moving her lips, but in her anguish she made no sound. Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. He misread the situation. Perhaps he was unknowingly reading his own woundedness into what he saw and that colored his view. No doubt, Eli was approaching Hannah’s actions as a man in that culture – a very different perspective than a woman’s in that time and place. He reprimanded her for what he thought he saw. I’m sure it took courage for Hannah to say “No, my lord – that’s not true.”

Get rid of your chair.
No. The chair is reminder of God’s kindness, protection, and love.

Delete your Facebook account.
No. When used with care, Facebook is a helpful place of community and connection. I need community now more than ever.

Delete your blog.
No. My highest values are honesty and vulnerability. I will continue to share my own personal experience.

With respect, I say “No”. As my husband likes to remind me, I have almost 20 years of professional experience and I’m no slouch either. I’m learning to trust myself and God’s Spirit within me, the mind and heart God gave me, and stand on my own two feet as I walk with Jesus.

Inside “The End”, Part 4

(Read Part 3 here)

I found it ironic that I found out about Midday Connection’s (a program that aired for over 20 years on Moody Radio) ending just days after I felt God was calling me to pray bold prayers. I also thought it was interesting that I had *just* completed my training in Spiritual Direction.

The weekend after learning Midday was ending, I went to a silent retreat with my cohort to be commissioned into service as a Spiritual Director. Yes, I cried for most of that retreat, but it was so rich with comfort, meaning, and healing. I held all of it – wondering what it all meant. Where is God taking me?

Truthfully, the most difficult part in those early days was carrying the weight of the great loss to listeners…  and the great loss of being a part of a team. This team! I felt known and loved and valued in this group. I knew and loved Anita and Melinda (co-hosts) – I couldn’t bear to imagine not interacting with them daily.

The tearing apart of the team was excruciating. Melinda’s job was ending before mine and it was so painful and confusing as that information soaked in during the month of June. Understandably, Melinda reduced her hours in the office, so whenever she was in the office, I hugged her and didn’t want to ever let go. I often had no words. I could feel the team eroding and I hated it. The moments with her flying by and I wanted to hold on tightly.

All the while… producing Midday Connection programs, posting on Facebook, hosting programs, building out the Midday website… holding this sad secret that Melinda was going to be gone soon and Midday was ending.

…read Part 5 here…

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Vulnerability

I’ve realized lately is that one of the hardest things for me about being vulnerable is the great likelihood that I’ll be misunderstood. That’s the truly icky part about the art of communication of any form – verbal, text, tweet, blog, video.

I’ve received a few messages from well-meaning people who have told me to “stop living in the past” and “just trust God”. Others have reprimanded me for my lack of faith. Sadly, I believe that these folks have missed the point of my blogs and may have misunderstood me.

In regards to my blog series, “Inside ‘The End’“, I want to say a few things for the sake of clarity…

  1. I hold no ill will toward Moody Radio. I’ve grown and learned so much at Moody. I’ve been given lots of opportunities and I’m so grateful. Toward the end of my employment, I had several good meetings with the VP of Moody Radio. I feel that I was treated well by him and by Moody Bible Institute. Moody Radio is a good, focused ministry. There are some really talented professionals who work there and I will miss them so, so much. I have no doubt that God will continue to use the radio ministry. I’m very sad to no longer work there and I left on good terms, blessing Moody Radio.
  2. The blogs that I write are my own personal observations and feelings during this transition. My hope is that others can relate to the observations – whether the reader is going through a job transition or another kind of grief/change.
  3. I’m not looking for sympathy or advice, nor do I want to drag this on forever. Grief is a process, though. It ebbs and flows. It’s a long process and it’s messy. I’m in a good place, presently, where I can calmly believe that God is working in my life – teaching me, comforting me, sustaining me. Ask me next week, and my answer might be different. This is what it is to be human – the ups and downs and mistakes and triumphs. I intend to be honest about that.
  4. For the past 5 years or so, even though I’ve felt great purpose, challenge, and satisfaction in my work, I’ve been restless and have told God, “If you want me to leave Moody Radio, You will need to remove me – I’m too afraid to go on my own.” So, when I was told that my job was ending, my first response was, “Well, God… that’s Your answer.” And I felt relief. My very next response was fear and sadness – but, I remember that first sense of knowing that God was directing me.
  5. I’m writing these blogs because, frankly, if I was a listener of Midday Connection I would be reading these, too. There’s not a secret motive or agenda for what I’m writing. Honestly? It’s just helpful for me to articulate my thoughts here and find that many of you resonate with those thoughts. Reading your notes that say, “Yes. Me, too” are so meaningful! I want to be honest here in hopes that others will also have the courage to be honest with the messiness of their own lives, too. I mean, come on – we’re all a mess. Let’s be messy together, it’s a lot more fun than faking that our lives are all tidy!

Inside “The End”, Part 3

(Read Part 2 here)

During the past few years, I had finally come around to the possibility that I could someday be a primary host for Midday Connection (a program on Moody Radio). After feeling most of my life that I had nothing to contribute, I felt that I’d found my voice and I had something to say. It was great fun, challenging, and so fulfilling to host Midday Connection and talk about things that really matter. 

To lose this job, this program, this passion is confusing. I finally found my voice and now it was being silenced? I was afraid and angry. In the days after learning the program was ending, I slammed my office door loudly, cried with anger as I walked to work, smashed some Millrose Club mugs (I was careful to do it in a safe, private way. 🙂 VERY cathartic, btw!), my language got a bit more – um… “spicy”, and I kept to myself. Thankfully, that intensity didn’t last long. I met with my counselor and cried and told him that I just needed some sort of direction. What do I do next?? He calmly told me to breathe and pray. Breathe and pray. Yes, I can do that. And I did.

It’s true that I’d felt a bit restless in the past few years – wondering if hosting a radio program was the best fit for me. I was a little uncomfortable with filling the air with words simply because dead air is bad in radio – where is the natural space in conversation and listening for God? The relentless nature of radio was exhausting. I often tell people that I’m built for 45mph and my life has been 65mph for years. I’m tired, worn out.

Could it be…? could it really be…? that by God’s mercy and grace, I might be called to move into a place where I’m not always exhausted?

…read Part 4 here…

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