I first published this in 2014. The story happened nearly a quarter-of-a-century ago.
I should have guessed that starting a new job on April 1 wasn’t a good idea.
I’m not sure who picked that date. I can imagine that it was my own choice. It gave an opportunity for a laugh when I told people. In the middle years, when I was trying to figure out how to escape, there was a sense of fatalism. What should you expect from a job started on a day characterized by jokes, by mocking, by pranks? But now, a couple of decades on, I’m a bit more comfortable with the humor.
I took the job with the optimism that comes when you are in your mid-thirties and ready to make this job “the one.” Soon, I discovered that I wasn’t equipped in almost any dimension for the job. Spiritually, culturally, professionally, I could do many of the pieces, but pulling them together as the boss wasn’t me. April fools!
During the four years, my dreams of climbing to one of the top roles in my profession drained away, slowly to be replaced by an awareness of what I do know how to do. In the middle, I thought about being a pastor. It was clearly an escape. Yet in a few years, I was stunned to find myself doing exactly that.
By the end of the time, I was told, “You aren’t fired, but we don’t have a position for you.” It hurt. But there were already conversations starting that took me back into the place of pain I had left four years before. And over several years, bit by bit, there was healing.
When I think about the painful moments of that season, Nancy reminds me of the good things that happened.
That’s why we need community. And time. And grace.
And sometimes, the learned capacity to laugh at ourselves. Because in the moment, we don’t know the story.