24: Laying Myself Off

24: Laying Myself Off

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Laying Myself Off

A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are for.

~John A. Shedd

When the economic downturn forced my company to lay off some of our employees, it fell to me, as the human resources manager, to choose who would stay and who would go in my department. My own life had taken a downturn, too. My marriage had ended five years earlier, and I was raising my daughter alone. We lived in a small Midwestern town where most people were married, and dating prospects were slim. My own job was solid, and I had steadily climbed the ladder. But something was missing. My enthusiasm was gone. I could see years of the same routine stretched out before me.

I had an idea. What if I let myself go instead and gave someone my job? I had no debt, a good amount of money in the bank, and a sister I could stay with if I wanted to make a move to thriving Texas. Praying all the while, I created an organization chart and a proposal. The decision was made. It was time for a change in my life.

Right after I turned in my proposal, my boss announced he had taken another job. The president of the company asked me to stay and fill my boss’s job. This threw me for a loop. It was a good raise and a great career move. But was it a great life move? My heart said no. Instead of taking the job, I helped them interview and fill it with someone else.

Weeks later my little girl and I were on our way to the heart of Texas. We pulled over at the Texas state line and stopped to put on cowgirl boots, literally “rebooting” our lives.

A month after arriving I made a new friend whose husband was a commander at nearby Fort Hood. She started talking about a handsome lieutenant who would be perfect for me. The thought of dating made me nervous.

“Lord,” I prayed, “I am a jerk magnet. If you ever want me to be married again you have to pick him.” My friend persisted, and cautiously I went on a blind date. I was so nervous I barely talked. I decided maybe he wasn’t for me. Still, my friend was so sure he was right for me, she kept asking us to go on another date. I gave in, and that night I saw something very special in that man.

We continued to date. I continued to pursue a new life, landing a job at a division of a Fortune 500 company in Austin. In the year that followed I started to realize we were fitting together like hand in glove. I watched closely to see what kind of man he truly was. Was he genuine? Did he have integrity? Did we share the same faith and values? Most importantly, how did he feel about my little girl? He seemed to be checking out just fine. My love for him was growing. Maybe in another year we would see where this might lead.

Suddenly I was faced with choices again. My new company merged two divisions. Then they did some more restructuring. They were excited to tell me they were going to move me to another city hundreds of miles away. At the same time, that special man in my life was getting orders to move to Fort Knox, Kentucky in a few months. And another friend called me about sending my résumé for a dream job in Chicago.

“Would you really go?” my lieutenant asked.

“If I have to I will,” I told him. “I have a little girl to support.”

What would happen to our relationship? Would we date long distance? We were nudged out of our comfort zone. He added another question to the mix.

“I know we said we would date at least two years before deciding to get married. But I already know I love you. You don’t have to take a job. We don’t have to date long distance. Will you marry me now and go with me to Kentucky?”

I kept thinking about the quote by Scott Peck I had taped to the back of my bedroom door. “If someone is determined not to risk pain, then such a person must do without many things: having children, getting married, the ecstasy of sex, the hope of ambition, friendship — all that makes life alive, meaningful and significant.” Would I choose the security of a job over someone I knew I loved? Would dating another six months just to make it to my two-year mandate really lessen the risk? I was older. I knew what I had hoped for in a man, and I had talked to God about it countless times. I even had a list of what I longed for if I was ever to have a husband again, and only God knew what was on that list. This man seemed to have been brought to me, being the man all my heart — and head — desired. I took the risk.

We’ve been married twenty years. I’ve had several other good jobs. Our family grew with another daughter and a son. We have even been given the gift of two extra daughters God brought into our lives who needed a loving mom and dad. Loving, we’ve discovered, is what we do best.

How grateful I am that I traveled that road to Texas and took a risk.

~Sharron Carrns

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