For years I had been silently crying out to God because of the unhappiness I felt, for years I thought He wasn’t listening to me, and for years I didn’t have the courage to do anything about my situation. Still I cried out and still I sought Him, even though I felt like I couldn’t find Him; I was so desperate that I kept seeking Him anyway. In hindsight, I think He was waiting for me to hit rock bottom, because He knew that was the only way I would truly allow Him to rescue me out of the ridiculous life in which I had trapped myself and into the life that He had always had planned for me.
During that unhappy time in my life, I was a regular churchgoer and could be found there just about every Sunday. And just about every Sunday I found myself crying during praise and worship. Right now I know that I was crying out my unhappiness and inexplicable sorrow but back then I wasn’t sure why I was crying. I think I felt sorrow because I knew deep down that the decisions I had made had taken me far off the track on which I should have been, and there didn’t seem to be any turning back or getting off. My life had no source of joy or meaning the way I knew it should.
I try to look back at my prayer journals from that time and I still can’t read them because they’re so saturated with pain and self-doubt and desperation. Hidden desperation. Because during that time no-one knew what I was going through, although my anam cara and one of my spiritual mentors suspected. To be honest, I didn’t trust anyone enough to share my heart with them, and by that time this included my partner. Still, I continued to work hard at maintaining the life that I had built in hopes that it would all come right eventually.
Then came rumours of redundancy. The company I was working for had acquired a new subsidiary and they had decided to use the opportunity to get rid of some people. The corporate grapevine did its job and news got to me that my name was on the list of the rejected. After the initial shock wore off, I must confess that I wasn’t overly surprised. My boss had started to treat me as irrelevant from some months before because, I believe, he felt I wasn’t aggressive and cutthroat enough for his team. In short, he saw me as a weak link. However, I was successfully running a division that had been established under my watch so I guess he felt that he couldn’t outright fire me. Restructuring was just an excuse to get rid of me, the dead weight (no one else on the executive team was cut).
Oh, it hurt. When news of it came to me through the grapevine, it hurt. In prior roles, I had been the one making others redundant and I never once thought I would be in that position. It hurt! It hurt that I was labelled as no longer useful. It hurt that I was labelled as unnecessary. It hurt that I was labelled as valueless. It hurt because my work was such a big part of my identity. It hurt because it felt like a big stain on my reputation. It hurt because it felt like rejection. It hurt because it felt like I wasn’t good enough.
At first I thought the information was probably erroneous but I noticed a difference, a new coldness and dismissiveness, in how my boss was dealing with me and I knew it was true. But you know what? God was so good to allow word of my impending redundancy to reach me ahead of time so that I could prepare emotionally and practically for it. And that’s what I did for the next three or four months. I did my job – it was even more of a struggle, but I did it. I set my finances in order to cover my mortgage, car payments and life in general for the time I would be out of work, which I hoped wouldn’t be more than a few months. I started looking for jobs in Jamaica, the Caribbean and beyond. I made a list of what I wanted to demand in my redundancy package so that I would be ready whenever the call came. I slowly started clearing my personal items out my office. And I waited.
I found myself alternating between fear and relief. I was fearful of what this would mean for my future – What was I going to do for work? Who would hire me after redundancy? What would I do with my time? But I was relieved that the daily struggle of going to a job that I hated was almost at an end. And deep down, I knew that this was God at work. I knew. I knew because He had been prompting me to leave that company for two years but I had let fear keep me grasping at a dead season in my life. I knew, although it seemed like the company was turning me loose, that it was actually God who was doing it. I felt like He was saying to me, “Kristine, I told you to leave and you didn’t, so now I’m putting you out.”
One morning, I arrived at my office early as usual and my boss called to say that he wanted to see me immediately. I took a deep breath because I knew this was it. I went to his office, he told me that I was no longer needed (he didn’t even bother with the clichéd, “Thanks for your years of hard work,” and I don’t think he even bothered to look at me once), that I should see HR about my severance package, and it was done. I was in and out in less than five minutes. I left his office and went directly to HR with my list of redundancy benefits, to which they agreed (I think most of them were already included in my package anyway so it wasn’t much of a negotiation). Then I went back to my office and gathered my managers and supervisors together to let them know what had happened. Through it all, I was stoic and matter-of-fact in order to withstand this massive blow with dignity and in order to minimise the trauma to my team members.
I returned to the office for another couple of days in order to tie up some loose ends and then it was done. After sixteen years in the corporate world, I was out of a job with no prospects and no clue what to do next. I slunk home with my identity and self-worth in tatters. I didn’t know it yet but God was still at work.