This past Sunday, as part of the ongoing capital campaign, our church did “Cardboard Testimonials.” This is the 2nd time we’ve done them since we’ve been attending. This was also the 2nd time I’d been asked to participate. The last time was about 6 years ago, and I was still trying to figure out my place inside the walls of the church. We were new members, new to the mens group, and still trying to connect. It was easy for me to see what message I needed to put out there, and what was on my heart. This time around was much different. We’ve been involved in just about every part of the church imaginable, know just about everybody, and have settled into our roles inside the walls.
When I was asked to do it, I didn’t really hesitate, I thought it would be so easy to put how crappy my life was on one side, and how great it is now on the other. As I spent the week thinking, and praying about it, I quickly realized I’ve had a pretty easy life. Sure, I’ve lost aunts, and uncles, grandparents, and a few friends, but I’ve not had to deal with anything like so many people have had too.
I kept going back to a 6 month period in my life that was truly the most difficult time for me ever. It was June of 2006, I was an Asst Mgr at Walmart. I had it all figured out, I was on the fast track to get promoted and take over the world. It all came crashing down on me June 8th, our 4 year wedding anniversary. I got the phone call that my job had been eliminated, we’d be getting severance packages, and we’d discuss it the next day when I went in. I was furious, what was I going to do, how was I going to survive without Walmart? Keep in mind at this point in our lives, we weren’t regulars at church, I worked almost every Sunday, so it was OK, I had a reason to not be there. I think for the first time in my life I truly hated God. I had lost all hope of a future. Little did I know that it would all work out, I quickly found another job, but it wasn’t the same. I was low man on the totem pole again. I was starting all over. It did free up Sundays though, and we started attending First Church again. It took 6 months for me to see that there was reasoning behind this happening. There was a plan laid out for me, I just had to follow it.
On Sunday, I was in the back of the line, so I didn’t get to read many of the testimonies that were in front of me. I just saw the looks, and tears on peoples faces when I stood there in front of 500 people holding a sign saying that I hated God because I lost a job, and that it took me a while to realize that it was a good thing, I’m back in church, and now have a better relationship with him. The thing I came to realize most though was that my little job setback is nothing compared to what others have had to endure. There were signs about people my age with cancer, lost children, drug addiction, abuse, etc. The fact that those people have overcome their issues and are here today to talk about it is amazing to me. We did it on Sunday to show how much God has blessed us, but what I saw was that I was blessed before I lost my job, and am more blessed now. I saw that the trials I’ve had are nothing compared to the trials others have endured. I saw that no matter how awful you think you have it, somebody else has it worse than you. I was doing it to show the congregation that we all have troubles, but I ended up finding out that my troubles are trivial and I’m blessed beyond words. I have a great wife, family, friends, church, and job. I have so many people I can lean on when I need it.
It just took standing in front of 500 people complaining about losing a job to realize it.