I got fired from the job I had for 25 years. I had counted on, made my life plans and my retirement around this job. Now, I was fired. I was a little over 3 years from being eligible for retirement.
After filing a grievance with the union and an arbitration hearing I got my job back. It took over a year and during that time, I had received unemployment, but my employer contested it, there was a hearing and I lost. I was ordered to repay the money I had received (over $10,000.)
Returning to work was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. I went back to the same job, same department and same management that fired me. The good news was that I could retire in a little over 2 years. I knew in my heart that to humble myself and return to work was exactly what Jesus wanted for me. I had spent over a year praying for the situation. A few other employees that had been fired close to retirement had been allowed to retire without returning to work; that was the result I had begged Jesus for. But instead, I had to return to work. It was very hard and I was humbled, feeling as though I was being watched, etc.
Still other employees who got fired and were rewarded their jobs back; when they returned, they were always arrogant because they had won their case. They were bitter, doing just enough work to get by, slowed down their production to the bare minimum; they bad mouthed the management and the company as a whole. They became real “problem children” after their return. But I was different, I was not bad mouthing, I was not acting angry and bitter, I increased my production and was obedient to the management and the authority over me.
I did have anger however toward the individual people who were involved in firing me, my direct supervisor and several others above him. I didn’t express this to them, but in my mind I thought of myself as being a victim. I replayed different scenarios over in my mind that my superiors could have done to resolve the problem. It didn’t have to be a disciplinary action/firing. I thought they fired me so they could make an example out of me to the others, to rattle the cages so to speak. Years after being fired I was still replaying these things over in my mind-sometimes several times a day, always several times a week and I was getting angry every time I did. I see now that I was in bondage to these feelings, I couldn’t shake them.
In a bible study at my Church by Beth Moore called Believing God there was a video regarding our identity in Christ. She used the analogy of coats we put on having labels on them that we see ourselves as. For instance: do we wear a coat labeled “divorced”, “fired”, “ugly”, “unlovable”, unworthy”, “no good” or something else? How we see ourselves affects how we relate to others and to God. We need to take off these coats and see ourselves as God sees us. We need to put on coats that have labels that are more appropriate and true: “loved”, “beautiful”, “masterpiece”, “friend of God”, “worthy” those kinds of names.
“And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, (Godlike) in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24
Beth said in her video that maybe if we would give Jesus applause once in a while, He would be more apt to do an encore. So, all the way home that day in my car I clapped, I applauded Jesus and I thanked Him for allowing me to be fired, for working into me humbleness and refining my character. I thanked Him for all the work He had done in me through that experience, I learned to trust Him more, to rely on Him when I had nothing else that seemed solid in my life; I learned that I make plans, but He directs my path. I thanked Him and applauded loudly, my hands were red and sore, tears were streaming down my face and I was beaming in a broad smile at the same time! I thanked Him for the experience and told Him I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I thanked Him for my retirement and offered it up to Him to use me as He sees fit.
This was the day the anger broke, I no longer replay this over and over in my mind. I am not upset and feeling victimized by this event in my life. I know that Jesus used this for my good.
November 16, 2006
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