Last time I was seven months pregnant, my boss called me into her office on a Friday afternoon. As many of us know (and as I recently heard again on a rerun of How I Met Your Mother), late afternoon on a Friday is often called “fire o’clock” for a reason.

I had no idea as I walked down the hall that my job was in jeopardy, so that thought never occurred to me. Honestly, I was afraid she was going to tell me to get some decent maternity clothes already, because the baggy stuff I’d been schlepping around in wasn’t cutting it professionally.

It turns out my oversized-but-not-maternity clothes were the least of my concern.

My boss asked me to sit down and then informed me that, due to budget problems, my position was being eliminated. In short, she assured me that they’d consulted an attorney and this decision was completely legal – and that I shouldn’t return after I had my baby.

Losing my job like that set off a domino effect of emotions – and possibly sent my blood pressure through the roof, causing me to develop severe pre-clampsia and, just weeks later, to find myself in an emergency C-section in the middle of the night.

[To be clear, I don’t blame my boss for having my baby seven weeks early, but knowing how much that job meant to me and how well I did NOT handle the loss of it, it seems likely – in hindsight – that the situation at least exacerbated an impending health condition.]

I hadn’t actually been in love with my job, though it was one I’d worked hard for and one I did well. I’d even considered looking for a different job, though partly because back then, that’s just what I did. (What? Your hobbies have never included reading, scrapbooking and job hunting? Just me, then?)

Still, losing my job hurt in ways I didn’t expect.

I expected to be panicked at the loss of income.
I expected to be angry at the way it was handled.
I wasn’t surprised to resent my co-workers who kept their jobs or to feel thankful for the longer-than-planned maternity “leave.”

Working part-time and paying bills with credit cards and praying harder than I had in a good, long time – these things weren’t shocking in the least.

But the overwhelming sense of loss, the foggy feeling of confusion, the grief of saying goodbye to who I thought I was – those things caught me off-guard. I didn’t realize, until that experience, just how tangled my identity was with my job. I couldn’t see – until it was blinding me with its clarity – how I’d poured my entire self, worth and all, into what I did to earn a paycheck.

This is not me, nor is it my office. But it IS my good friend (and former co-worker) Daphne.
And when writing about work-related things, I simply cannot resist posting this photo.
Because, really, every office has at least one clown, right?

Last night at my small group we discussed the difference between faith in the big picture (God’s going to win in the end; this will all work out eventually.) and faith in the short-term (I just lost my job, and it’s okay, because no matter what, God is good.).

When I was laid off from my job six years ago, I absolutely had big-picture faith. But even though I believed everything would work out eventually, I had no idea HOW. Even in my wildest dreams (because yes, I dreamed of a job, a career, a ladder, a fancy desk in that coveted corner office) I could not have imagined the twists and turns my career path would take.

Since losing that job, I’ve been underemployed (the technical term for taking a frustrating, entry level job nearly a decade after graduating from college because it’s the only job you’re offered and you have to pay the bills), I’ve chosen to be a stay-at-home mom, I’ve worked in ministry and I’ve worked from home.

Today, six years after seeing my dreams of corporate accomplishment and promotions and raises and general upward mobility dissolve, I’m happy to say that I have found my corner office with a view. It just happens to be on my couch, in my living room, next to a picture window looking out into my front yard.

I know myself well enough to know that this won’t always be enough and that I’ll pursue another dream probably sooner than later. As a matter of fact, I was up late last night weighing the pros and cons with Mark of a recent work opportunity that I’m not sure how to handle.

(And then [sidenote] up early – for me – this morning, because my phone blew up before my daughter woke up on this teacher work day. I could have ignored it, but, well, a large part of me still IS the job. So I got myself out of bed and went to work a bit earlier than planned!)

But for now, for today, I’m much happier with my never-could’ve-dreamed-it job than any career path I dreamed of years ago. The suits, the desk with the paper clips and bulletin boards, the office with the door and the motivational posters, the big paycheck and the recognition (my real currency of choice, as anyone who’s worked with me knows) – it was all just a fairy tale. A wild dream, a fantasy.

(And, again as anyone who knows me in real life can attest to, it was just ONE of MANY career-related dreams I’ve had and chased.)

But this real work life? The one I couldn’t have imagined, the one my recent graduate self would never have wanted? It’s way better than the one where I get up at the crack of dawn, stuff myself into business attire and sit behind an actual desk all day. THIS life is the one God created for me before I ever picked a major or applied for a job or sat in my boss’s office on a Friday afternoon.

And it is good.

What’s your dream job? Do you have it now?

This post is part of Giving Up on Fairy Tales, a 31 Days series. Make sure you don’t miss a post by subscribing to this blog. When you do, you’ll receive an ebook called Finding a Happier Ever After for FREE!

{Photo by 96dpi}

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