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The Up-Side of Being Fired, Part Three

So what happens when we lose a job?  For starters, we come alive again.  It is no hyperbole to declare that it can be like coming out of a dark tunnel into blinding sunlight.  Once again we feel a part of the entire world – not just the claustrophobic four walls that had been our world previously.

Strangely enough, it can be exhilarating to get fired.  As painful as it is, job termination brings with it a species of euphoria: Wow!  At last I’m in charge – not someone else!  At last, I’m free to do anything I choose to do.  I can go wherever I want to go.

If another job does not follow in quick succession, it’s likely that thoughts such as these arise: You know, if I’m unemployed anyway, what do I have to lose if I finally follow that dream I’ve long felt could never be?  I wonder if I have it in me to really make it work?  So . . . if I really bend my mind to it, is it really possible I could pull off such a miracle?

Time after time, in history, it has been failure that has booted people out of their career ruts into pathways of their own making.

Belatedly, I’ve discovered in life that eventually God has a way of utilizing everything that has ever happened to us.  Every success, yes; but more significantly, every failure, every rabbit trail, every dead-end, every box-canyon, every detour, every crack-up, every disappointment, every infliction, every disillusion, every heartbreak – every last bit of it God mixes into the mortar with which we construct our lives.  At the end, we discover that God, behind the scenes, much like an elephant-keeper, has followed along behind us, scooping up the messes we leave behind, doing damage control, making the most of our mistakes, and gently herding us toward the light.

In my case, had it not been for my two firings, it’s extremely unlikely the ministry of our books – 71 and counting – would ever have been.  And it was only through the resulting anguish that I finally could really empathize with the suffering of others:

“It is only through our own sorrow that we come to understand the sorrow of others, only through our own weakness that we learn to pity the weaknesses of others, and only through our love and forgiveness that we can ever comprehend the infinite love and forgiveness of God.”

– Myrtle Reed, from A Spinner in the Sun

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Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

   There is something magical in that countdown in New York’s Time Square on New Year’s Eve — when close to a million people, farther away than the eye can see, in a crescendo of multitudinous voices, yell out, “Ten!” — “Nine!” — “Eight!” — “Seven!” — “Six!” — “Five!” — “Four!” — “Three!” — “Two!” — “ONE!” — “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

    And in that instant, two thousand nine dies and two thousand ten is born.
    Suddenly, the past seems almost irrelevant and the future looms out of the mists: the yellow brick road to OZ.  Surely good times lie ahead.
    But sadly, all too few of us pay much attention to the one time-frame we can do anything about — TODAY.
    In many years of counseling and teaching I’ve encountered again and again men and women stubbornly refusing to relax the death-grip their clutched hands have on their yesterdays or their tomorrows — neither of which they can do a blessed thing about.  For our yesterdays are already written in stone — not God Himself can erase a word of it; and our tomorrows are but figments of our imagination — indeed, they may never come at all.
    It is said that we learn more from our mentors than from all our formal schooling put together.  One such person, in my life, was the late Helen Mallicoat of Wickenburg, Arizona; a woman who, over time, became one of my most cherished friends.  Of her most famous poem, what is usually labeled “The I Am Poem,” she told me once, “I’ve never copyrighted it because I consider it to be a gift from God . . . .  It came to me in the middle of the night – as clearly and distinctly as though God had dictated it. . . .  It has developed a life of its own and circled the globe more times than I can count.  Hallmark alone has distributed it by the millions.  I never know where it’ll go next.”
    I have used it for years to motivate my students and counselees.  It is safe to say that few poems in history have changed — if not revolutionized — lives more than this simple little poem.  It will change yours too.  I guarantee it.  IF . . . you repeat it over and over all day until you have it memorized, post it on your wall, and repeat it over and over for 30 days.  Then it will be yours forever — and your life will never be the same.  Here it is:
I was regretting the past
and fearing the future.
suddenly my Lord was speaking:
“My name is I Am.”  He paused.
I waited.  He continued,
“When you live in the past,
with its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard.  I am not there.
My name is not I Was.
When you live in the future,
with its problems and fears,
it is hard.  I am not there.
My name is not I Will Be.
When you live in this moment,
it is not hard.  I am here.
My name is I Am.”
                        — Helen Mallicoat