It was an epic day when my late husband announced with the shocking question,” I have a career offer in Europe to work for a minimum of eighteen months?” “What do you think?” It all seemed surprisingly impossible, but within six weeks our home and two cars sold and we were soon on our way.
All we knew of our changing future was that a military contract had been secured and a job promotion awaited for my husband. Where we would live and everything beyond was a BIG question mark? It turned out to be the best (nine-year) unexpected, career pathway and decision of our marriage.
Painful good byes were said to our family and friends. Finally, we turned away from our known life, and gathered our young daughter to boarded a flight. It was the beginning adventure to many happy life experiences and a home near Oxford, England.
Fast forward: our extended 9-year European stay ended and we returned to The States. After a three year career assignment in the Washington D C area, we faced another career and location move decision. This move took much more consideration, especially for the welfare of our now two children, one in High School, one in 4th grade. They weren’t so keen on “moving again?” It also meant leaving the security of a 17-year career with the same company.
We moved. We expected life to continue to prosper. But this transition turned disastrous as we started to settle into a promising job and another location. Without notice, my husband lost his position with a restructuring event in the new company, one that we later suspected being negotiated before he was even hired. It was a salary budget restructure.
Although we could not prove it, his salary was added in the yearly budget before he was hired, and then his position eliminated shortly afterwards with the salary cost padded into the restructure. It was something I would become more familiar with in my future career in Human Resources.
This rocked our new world. We were thrown into a new reality. It was a crippling series of unexpected, domino events that left us unemployed for the first time in our entire marriage; losing our house contract, homeless for a short while and shaken to the bitter core.
What makes two similar events of relocation, change life so unexpectedly, and result in such contrasted outcomes? It’s my question even to this day. One thing is certain; when faced with disappointing outcomes and shaken to the core, important decisions soon follow.
The toughest choice to settle is whether one is determined to accept life as it now is, regardless of the pending difficult outcomes. In our instance, because of unsuspecting betrayal, we needed this strong determination. How were we to work through the process of confusion of losses and learn our own personal lessons came next. Later, we had the choice to gradually be willing to let it all go; or remain stuck, wounded and bitter. It was a painful grieving process of losses and gains. It wasn’t easy.
The recovery process – to rebuild confidence in our decision-making abilities and deal with betrayal – taught us not to presume life will always be prosperous. It taught us to deal with life-altering disappointment and periods of brief depression. It warned us of our vulnerability and whether we would ever risk again.. We received wisdom to regain our equilibrium and walk through the many lessons learned. And more importantly, we turned in prayer and faith for unanswered questions in the process of recovery.
The late Mary Tyler Moore said it best: “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
Certainly, we hope for the best outcomes in choices, but there are no guarantees we won’t fail, or face unknown challenges. Adversity builds bravery by hardening us to difficulties. It equips us to face other difficult circumstances in the future.
Unemployment is devastating to everyone who lives with the consequences. It immediately throws one into a power-punch of insecurity and fear. The knock-down effect is real and a knock-out punch may take even longer to recover. Standing confidently tall again, is a real gain.
Comparing all of life from our limited vantage point dims an accurate view of the real world. It takes growth and authenticity to see our blind spots and work to overcome them. Humility is a great teacher in this regard. It brings us to a bowing posture with the need to look outside of our self reliance.
How easily we accumulate judgements based solely by our limited experiences. How easy to make judgements on others when we have no idea their life journey. Adversity breaks down our willful pride and cautions us to be willing to look inside. Examining the chapters of our own story gives greater insight with the context of the story of others.
Empathy should transcend beyond our personal experience because of the very basis of its meaning. We become more patient especially when we connect with others and “walk a mile in their shoes.” If we allow it, compassion can be a positive outcome in the process of adversity.
Connective understanding gives space for growth in accepting different ideas, approaches to problem-solving and time for restructuring life. Empathy is beneficial to us all. It expands our understanding, stretching us beyond our limitations.
Life is not a test…Oh really?
Adversity is the university we all attend
It tests ideas of how life is
Restructures will and mind to bend.
Be more nimble with adventure
Not hold back because of fear
Tests will come to everyone
Keep looking forward, not the rear.
Attitudes and judgement hang-ups
Entangle us to hardened hearts.
ingrained judgements must be broken
Breakout from a prison dark.
As speed of change increases
Challenging ways of doing things.
Perhaps it is not so destructive
When we embrace the need to change.
Written by Judy Cline