My Greatest Failure
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
My greatest failure also became my greatest achievement.
December 2, 2016, was the beginning of the end of things as I knew them. I was laid off from my job. Being laid off was no big deal. I’d been laid off before, but this time felt a little different because there was no notice and therefore no new job waiting in the wings.
But I was not worried or concerned about finding another job or even about what the future held. In fact, there was great anticipation because I had been praying for a new job or a change in circumstances for several months before this happened. I had asked God to give me a job that allowed me to work smarter, not harder. A job that would allow me to use my passions, skills, and knowledge to help others and finally, a job that would continue to allow me to support my family.
December was spent with the kids, and we had a great time over winter break and the new year’s holiday. I could feel it in my bones that this was going to be my best year ever.
I hit the ground running in January starting an HR consulting business to keep me busy until I landed my next job. I had a couple of clients and was doing okay but it wasn’t anywhere near the pace or the money I was used to. I started dipping into the severance and by March it was almost gone.
Mistake #1 – Not having a contingency plan. Everyone should have an emergency fund made up of 6 – 9 months of money to get you through an emergency or rainy season.
Mistake #2 – Not creating a plan of action for the next 30 – 90 days.
Mistake #3 – Not creating a budget. We should have been budgeting and cutting expenses from the moment I lost my job.
April, May, June, nothing. July, I heard the frogs croaking and crickets chirping but no job prospects on the horizon. Internally, I was a little puzzled by the lack of connections, callbacks, and interviews but I still had peace about it which I couldn’t fathom.
Mistake #4 – Not confiding in anyone as to what was happening. Wise counsel during this time would have helped me to get a grip on several key things, i.e., my spending habits, what to do in the waiting, etc. We continued to live as though I was still working and bringing in the money.
I was now using my 401k to sustain us. I took a BIG hit doing that, but it couldn’t be avoided. The expenses were piling up quickly and COBRA payments had to be made. When you have kids, you must have insurance.
Mistake #5– Not researching my options. COBRA was not my only option for health care for me and the children. Had I looked I could have found cheaper options on the marketplace.
Unemployment ran out in June as did my contracts for work. It was as dry as the desert and no rain in sight. And yet I continued to have hope and prayed daily for the new job to come my way.
Mistake #6 – I didn’t delay applying for unemployment and therefore it overlapped with my severance. Had I waited I could have sustained myself a few extra months.
I had never put much stock or faith into what I asked of God prior to the past three years. I never used to believe that He heard me much less would answer my prayer. But this time was different. I had established a relationship with Him. I learned to trust Him explicitly and prayed to Him often and very passionately for His will to be done in my life. I had turned over the reins of my life to Him to have His way. Promised I would be obedient and then went about my business as usual.
Lesson #1 – Be careful what you ask God for, He just might grant your wish.
The end of summer was upon us when it hit me that I was going to run out of money and still not have a job. I had a child starting her senior year in high school and three more behind her to get ready for a new school year and I didn’t know how it was going to happen. My money was all gone, and I didn’t know what to do but I was given a blessing for my birthday by a friend that allowed me to cover the girls’ expenses for school.
Lesson #2 – Trust and believe. God always provides for your needs. Even if you don’t understand how or when it’s never too late especially if it is according to His will in your life.
It wasn’t long thereafter that the summons got put on the door for failure to pay. Yet I kept hoping that something would happen before the court date, but it didn’t. After the judgment was issued, I spoke to them and thought I got a reprieve for another month to secure a job. Kohls department store hired me as a seasonal worker at $9 per hour. I was so grateful for the job although I knew it wasn’t enough to save us from the inevitable.
Mistake #7 – Putting off the inevitable. When the ship is sinking, get in the lifeboat. Don’t wait around for the next one…
I had to break it to the kids. Suddenly, things seemed daunting. Thirty days isn’t a lot of time to pack up a 4-bedroom house, attic, and garage; especially, when you don’t know where you are going. With no resources, no full-time job on the horizon, and no idea when things would change, I set out to find an apartment or rent a house but couldn’t because I didn’t have a job to support the income requirements.
Mistake #8 – Failure to plan. I should have looked for other options when I first lost my job while I was still on the payroll and receive severance.
I came home to find a notice pinned to the door. It was a Thursday. Per the notice, I had to be out of the house by Tuesday, or the sheriff would evict me and put my belongings out on the curb or change the locks with my possessions inside. This was Thursday. The eviction day was Tuesday. Four days. I had four days to pack up a house, attic, and garage and find a place for me to go. What happened? I thought I had 30 days. Not that it would have made a difference, but this took me by surprise.
Mistake #9 – Denial. Not moving fast enough. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to keep the house even with the 30-day extension I should have been preparing for our departure. Packing up the nonessentials, tackling the attic and garage. Having a yard sale, etc.
I finally told my pastor what was going on and that Sunday afternoon and Monday people from church showed up to help me pack and take my belongings to storage. We delivered the last load of stuff to the storage facility at 9:30 on Monday night. As we stepped out of the building the first drops of rain fell. It was so cathartic. A sign from God that He was closing that door and opening new ones and did He ever.
I lived three months with a church member that blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. I was offered a job at my church two weeks after I was evicted, which I accepted in a spirit of disbelief for this was an answered prayer exactly as I asked for and more. And, in January of 2017, I was able to move into my own apartment. We were a family again.
Lesson #3 – Never give up hope. It’s okay to waver but not to fall or give in to the lies of the enemy. God has a plan for all of our lives if we but get out of the way and let Him do what He has preordained for us. Lesson #4 – God’s timing and our timing are totally different but again, He is always right on time.
Today I work for my church doing a job I love very much. I get to use my life’s experiences, passion, skills, and knowledge just like I prayed for. My life is very fulfilling, and I can support my family with my salary from the church. Never have I been so satisfied. This would not have happened if I hadn’t had the faith and fortitude to pray and let God’s will be done in my life.
Lesson #4 – God had to strip me down to nothing in order to build me up into something brand new. I had to lose my dependence on myself and learn to rely 100% on Him. I had to lose my $90k life and all it entailed in order to receive the life He wanted to offer me without restrictions or dependence on a certain amount of money to be able to do it.
Although I may have failed in the eyes of the world by losing my job, my house, my car, and my family. I won by learning to lean 100% on my God. I wouldn’t trade anything that we went through that year for anything in the world because He has brought me to a place beyond my wildest dreams and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for me.
So, the next time the world tells you that you’ve failed, look at it through a spiritual lens and see what God has taught you. Look for the positive and don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t stay down but get up and allow God to lead you home.