Monday, February 6, 2017

Job Loss: The Adventure of Finding Purpose

It's been about five months since I felt as though my world was crashing down around my ears. When you work in ministry -- really, when you work in any sort of job you love and believe in -- it's so easy to wrap your life's meaning around the work you're doing.

When I accepted the role of morning host at The Family, I thought, this is where I'm meant to be; this is what I'm meant to be doing. I believed I had, finally, found my purpose in life.

The only thing wrong with that was, I already had a purpose in life. More than one. I have a God who loves me. An amazing wife. Four beautiful children. And as much as I gave this idea lip-service, I lived my life as though it was my job that gave me my purpose.

I have finally come to an understanding, and today I was able to put it into words: I am not my job. You are not your job. We weren't put here for a purpose, but for many.

But it took losing my job for me to understand it.

When you lose a job, it can feel as though you've lost your purpose. This is where depression comes from, I think. That hopeless feeling. That now-what-ness. But the truth, the reality, is that this is the beginning of a grand adventure: seeking new purpose -- and learning to recognize the roles you're already filling.

This was never a self-help blog, and Heaven help me if I ever turn it into one. If you're dealing with a major life change, such as job loss, I'm not going to tell you what to do. What I can do is tell you what I'm doing, and if it works for me, hey, maybe you can glean a little something for your own life.

So, for me, step one was recognizing that, indeed, I am on a journey. Step one was to recognize who God has placed in my life, and to ask the big question: why? Could it be that one of my purposes is to be the friend, husband, and father that each of them needs?

Now that I'm at home most of the day, I'm able to help my wife get the kids around for school. This reduces her stress in the morning and helps her get to work in a better state of mind. That's something right there -- and it's not a small thing! I'm able to get stuff done around the house, attempting to create a more pleasant environment for everyone (when I actually, you know, do stuff). I'm able to be here for my kids when they're out of school, and not be the exhausted zombie they used to come home to. I can ask them about their day and truly be able to listen to their answers.

This is Big Stuff. This isn't "passing the time while I wait for the next job" stuff, but truly important, life altering work.

Step Two: I can explore my passions. As a mediaphile, my job did afford me the equipment I needed to work on some of the projects I wanted to... but in order to do so, I had to take more time away from my family. When I lost my job, I discovered I'd gained something (actually my wife pointed it out on day one) that I didn't have before: time. Time is precious, and no matter how much money you have, you can't buy more of it. Equipment is another matter. Equipment was something I could buy.

So now, thanks to an encouraging and understanding spouse, I have both the time and equipment to explore those passions of mine. And I am, and as I do so, I discover more and more ways to use those passion to create purpose. Or, perhaps, to find it.

For a season -- four years, to be exact -- one of my purposes in life was to be an encouraging voice on the radio; to be the person who maybe said just the thing somebody needed to hear at the right time; to offer an ear to my callers and words of prayer when necessary.

That was my purpose -- or one of my purposes -- in life. And now, it isn't. Now, my purpose is to explore all the things God already had for me to do (like being the person my family needs), and to find out what's next.

It's an exciting journey, fraught with surprise and even a little risk. It's not a journey to take lightly, or to take for granted, but even though I haven't -- and may never -- reach a final destination, I can already tell you it's a journey well worth taking.