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You Gotta Have Faith

I have been working at least one job since the age of 15, many times holding two jobs. This means I have had steady employment for 30+ years. Please know I am not saying this to brag; it is setting the stage for the most trying, stressful, scary, eye-opening, self-reflective, mind-shifting time in my life.

I started my last job on October 26, 1999. It was my foot in the door to the travel industry. I was so excited! It was a company with multiple offices around the world. Our Bayside location alone employed approximately 1000 people.

While there, we worked through 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, El Niño conditions, Hurricane Irene, the financial crisis of 2007-2009, multiple instances of a Reduction in Force, and a huge merger that left many without a job. Throughout all these challenges, we always found ways to make the business work and came back even stronger.

But March of 2020 presented the biggest, most hard-hitting challenge to the travel industry that we would ever see. A little-known virus was spreading so rapidly that it took the entire world by storm. Eventually it would be called COVID-19.

At any point prior to this outbreak, working from home was not an option. Then, as of Monday, March 16, 2020, our IT department tirelessly worked at setting every employee up with the necessary equipment to work from home. By end of day Friday, March 20, no one was left in our three buildings. I had packed up my cubicle with what I needed to make an at-home office. Little did I know that I would never again return to that cubicle.

Monday, March 23, was an odd day. To wake up, get ready for work, then walk 10 feet to my dining room table to begin my workday felt surreal. I worked like this for another week, until I received a meeting request with a very cryptic subject line. This meeting ended up being a wakeup call as to how impactful Covid-19 really was on the travel industry. Via a conference call we were told that the small group of approximately 200 of us were picked to continue working to keep our company going. All of the other 800+ employees were furloughed for 12 weeks. As of April 1, 2020, my team of eight would be reduced to me… doing all the work, and only having my manager to prioritize what was absolutely necessary. On this call we were also told that we would receive a pay reduction, no less than a specified yearly wage but anywhere up to a 40% cut of our income.

The VP presenting this information point blank said to us:

You are the chosen ones. You are working more hours for less pay to keep this company going.

No pressure, right?

At that point in my career, I was a salaried employee, working 45–50 hours per week. In the 12 weeks of this furlough, I was working 12-14-hour days at least 4 days per week.

Mid-June brought us near the end of the 12-week furlough. It was always in my mind that the next phase could bring me:

  • Another 12 weeks of running my team alone

  • A 12-week furlough

  • A notice of termination

Wednesday, June 24, at 6 pm, I logged off my computer, went to Walmart, came home and logged back into my computer at 9 pm. I had a meeting request from my manager for 9:15 am the next morning. I had a weird feeling about it.

Thursday, June 25, 9:15 am, my manager messaged me to ask what phone number she could call me at, which was strange because she had all my numbers – home, cell, parents’, brother’s.

Thursday, June 25, 9:20 am, my home phone rang with my manager’s number on the caller ID. I answered, we shared pleasantries, and then she said what you never want to hear…

“…and I have Nikki from HR on the phone with us.”

In the words of Packers radio commentator Wayne Larrivee, “And there is your dagger.”

You all know how this story ends. As I sit here in my wonderful, cozy office at Campus Life writing this story, I feel at home. So lucky to have a job in which I look forward to coming to every day.

I look back at the last 20 months with mixed emotions but the best word to describe them is blessed.

Before I was let go, I was not that happy. Pay was great. Benefits were phenomenal. Employee Assistance Program was outstanding. But the self-satisfaction was gone. It brought me no joy. I knew I wanted something different but was too comfortable and afraid to take the leap.

  • I didn’t have faith in myself that I would come out better and stronger.

  • I didn’t have faith in God that He would provide for me.

  • I didn’t have faith in my community that they would support me.

Being let go on June 25, 2020, at 9:25am is in my TOP 3 BEST THINGS that has ever happened to me.

I look back and see how I was blessed in multiple ways. My company graciously offered a severance package. I received a payout of unused vacation hours. My unemployment went smoothly, never in 14 months having a problem with the process. But during that time, I was still stressed and afraid. I would have enjoyed my 14 months off work if I had faith that God was taking care of me, but forest through the trees, you know?! I didn’t understand His grand plan. I just stressed because of my own insecurities and fear of the unknown.

Now that I am in a place of peace and contentment, I can see that God was always with me. He kept me safe. He led me to my passion. He brought people into my life who inspire and energize me, help me grow and bring me one step closer to Jesus.

And from this experience I will always carry with me the reminder that you gotta have faith.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. -1 Corinthians 2:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6
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