After 14 years in pharmaceutical sales, I was ending the third week in June 2016 going through a review for a future promotion. That following week, one week exactly from being told ‘you’re exactly the kind of person we want to keep and promote at this company,’ I received a call that was quite literally, one I never expected. “Beth, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you’ve been laid off.” Me? How is that possible? I was in the top 4% of sales nationally; I consistently had excellent behavior ratings each year; my managers loved me; my customers loved me; I was good at my job; I was responsible; I was a leader; I was a team player; I was…unemployed.
I was stunned. I knew I needed to call my husband who was going to be equally stunned, but the words wouldn’t form in my mouth. I was blindsided. How did this happen? Why did this happen? What we’re we going to do? We had bills to pay, and I had always been the steady income producer while my spouse was the entrepreneur. How long would we have before the bills would be more than the dollars left in the bank? I, was afraid. Almost eleven months later, I’m still afraid. But, I’m learning to lean into it and lean into God.
350 times, God tells us in the Bible to “Fear Not.” It seems easy enough until you’re in a situation which seems unsolvable and every logical scenario ends with a life-altering decision. Fear not, as I continue to wait for another round of lab results. Fear not, as I wait to find out whether my insurance company will pay for the medical treatment I so desperately need. Fear not, as I look on the calendar and see the next round of bills due in 5 days, and the money left in the bank account won’t cover them, and I have no idea where or how to earn more. Fear not, as we must make really hard decisions about whether or not to pull our children from the only school they’ve ever known because we no longer have the financial resources to keep them there. Fear not, as putting the house we brought our babies home from the hospital in, may need to go on the market to help cover the bills. Fear not, as my real worry of potentially being unemployed and homeless seems more a possibility than an ironic statement. Fear not.
I have realized that while it will break my heart to have to walk through whatever is coming and have my children walk through this, I trust God and his goodness and truly do want the life God has called me to more than I want the ‘stuff’ I might have to leave behind. I want to look back and know that I trusted God, afraid. That when I heard him; I followed. I followed afraid. I claimed his words. I claimed his promises-that He will take help us and uphold us with his right hand. That I chose to leap into his arms rather than continue to live an ‘easy’ life and miss all the goodness he has planned. I chose, to fear not.
Why you may ask, am I choosing to walk through this v just ‘taking any job’? It’s a fair and reasonable question..in fact, one I probably would’ve asked myself 11 months ago. Over a year ago, I was sitting in my church on a Sunday morning when our pastor began talking about how the people God used in the Bible weren’t special. They weren’t the ‘cool’ kids, the well-spoken, super talented, had it all together, class President or captain of their football team. God chose to use people who were available and wanted the life He could offer them more than anything they could do on their own. That struck me. I had always done what I was ‘supposed’ to do and was left feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. I wanted more. I didn’t want to spend the second half of my life checking any more boxes because that’s what I was supposed to do, I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help people. I wanted God to use me and my life however he saw fit. So, I said, “Here I am, God. Use me.” I meant it. I still do. A few months after that declaration, my phone rang and my comfortable life ended. Not knowing if I should continue to pursue the medical sales world which I had come to know so well or not, I asked God to show me. And he did. I was given 3 clear signs. The first came during another Sunday morning message where the pastor was referencing a passage in 1 Kings 19. This is where Elijah comes to Elisha (confusing I know) and tells him to follow him. Elisha is out plowing the field with his oxen. He chooses to not only kill the oxen but to burn the plow-signifying that God is finished with this and he cannot go back. Hearing this story, I immediately felt God saying, ‘burn your plow’ regarding my going back into medical sales.
Because, as I established in the beginning, I was afraid, I tested God on this. On the very first day I began to look for a new job, I had a call from a recruiter and was interviewing for a position in medical sales within a week. “I’m amazing”; I thought to myself. In fact, within 3 weeks, I had completed 3 interviews, spoken with several representatives at the company and had a day out in the field. While the security of having a job was appealing, I did not have any peace. When I received the offer I asked if I could think about it and was given 48 hours. At the end of 48 hours, still no peace, I felt that I had to accept on behalf of the needs of my family. When I called the manager to agree to take the position, I was told the offer had been rescinded because I had taken the 48 hours. Only God…
A few months went by, I landed another interview with another pharmaceutical company that seemed a better fit. Still, having some doubts in my heart, I sailed through the interview process, felt strongly that I was the front runner when I was asked one final question, during the final round of interviews, on my way out of the door. It was this question, I knew instantly was a God thing. One of the managers had asked about 1 piece of paper in my ‘brag book’ which talked about strengths and why I included it. It opened the door for me to either hide what my passion was-where I felt God leading me-and secure the job or be honest and know I might lose it. I opted to fear not, and proceeded to talk about the importance of knowing your strengths, knowing yourself, your calling in life, and leadership principles that make for a stronger and more dynamic team. It was clear to all in the room, my passion was in helping others find their strengths than selling a drug that might help a patient stop smoking.
When you live a life, unafraid and trusting God, you allow yourself the blessing of seeing all the big and small ways He will provide. You open yourself up to growing. And by walking unafraid into the future he has planned. You are proving your ability to be trusted for bigger and bigger blessings.
I don’t have all the answers. Some days, I feel like I don’t have any. But what I DO have is the stubbornness to make all that I and my family have walked through this past year worth it. I refuse to quit now on my day 6, before we see our Jericho’s walls come crashing down. If you are seeking God, I cannot encourage you enough to trust him, to keep your eyes on him, to allow him to be your light in a cavern of darkness-to fear not! To continue, if necessary, even afraid.