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Finally Leaving the Layoff Swamp

A month ago, on March 12, my 9-month layoff ended as I began working for the City of Baltimore as an IT Project Manager. I described many times the experience of being laid off like being in swamp. Not just “in” a swamp but trapped or lost in a swamp: uncertain of its depth and dangers, being anxious to escape, admiring the surroundings, feeling at times miserable, and doubting your skills.

I learned many things from this experience about myself and those around me. Hopefully, I'll compile these thoughts into a book soon. For now, here's a short list. One tip for each month of my layoff:


1) You are not alone - It's so easy to think that you are alone and no one around you understands. Many people have experienced a layoff and some are going through one right now. But often, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable about your layoff and not want to discuss it. Please talk about it!

2) Share your story - Ask for prayer and share your thoughts. The worst decision to make is to deal with this on your own.

3) Some won't understand - As you begin sharing, some people just won't understand. Unless one has been through an extended layoff, they just aren't going to comprehend the emotions and thoughts you're wresting. Some people won't know what to say, so they may say nothing. Don't be frustrated or disappointed in them.

4) Some will try and fix it - Being transparent grants some permission to fix the situation. Many will try and polish your resume and offer tips on how to interview, your grooming, clothes, and more. Be gracious and listen. But if you can be honest enough with them and yourself - no amount of polishing and prepping will land you a job that the Lord doesn't want you in. And that's a tough pill to swallow for many. The world says, "You want it, go get it!" "You can do anything you put your mind to!" Even Scripture says that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Yes, you and I can. However, if you are seeking His perfect will and guidance...certain situations will never come to be.

5) Accept help - If someone wants to bless you with money, a free meal, or whatever - cheerfully receive it! Not accepting their gift is robbing them of a chance to bless you.

6) Don't believe the lies - I submitted hundreds of resumes/applications, talked to dozens, of recruiters, and went on several in-person interviews. Yet, the rejections kept coming in saying that "while I seemed good enough, I wasn't good enough for them." And the whispers in my mind would also speak of my being "old, washed up, and no longer needed." It's impossible to stop the negative whispers but you don't have to dwell on them. Keeping yourself in the Word and surrounded by positive or Christ-following people is key.

7) Pace yourself - Don't spend all day searching for a job. With the amount of tools out there and depending on your vocation, an entire day could easily be devoted to the search. Set aside a couple of hours, maybe three, for job hunting. Leave the rest to enjoy the time. Catch up with family and friends, go see movies, or take some short trips.

8) It's ok to be in the swamp - I often thought that I put myself in this situation because of a number of reasons. I knew that the Lord had brought me into this swamp and I knew that He would lead me out. But I didn't want to be there. I wanted to move on to the next thing. Looking to the next thing didn’t allow me to marinate and abide on the present.

9) Abide - If there was any one word that describes what I learned and what I challenge anyone in an extended layout to experience, it's to abide. Not just to trust Him but to savor the experience. To fully appreciate what is around you. To listen for the nudgings of the Holy Spirit and act upon them. Don’t let this opportunity pass and you regret not taking the time to relax and reflect.

There is joy in the journey...




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