Sometimes the trajectory of our life looks nothing like what we had once envisioned. And sometimes? That is the biggest blessing in the world.
I graduated law school in 2008, ready to take on the world. I had a lot of success in law school – competing on the trial team and moot court, and was even one of the lucky few who graduated with a job already in place.
I worked at a family law firm during law school and they offered me an associate position before I even graduated. I started working full-time as a clerk as soon as I took the bar exam, and earned that “associate” title when I found out I passed the bar. I came out making a great salary, and my the firm even hired my boyfriend (now husband) as their marketing director.
Seems pretty perfect, right?
Not even close.
The firm environment turned toxic quickly. The turnover rate became unbelievable, especially for a small firm. No one knew day to day if their job was secure. My boyfriend (now husband) got laid off. The rest of us struggled on, trying to make our billable hour requirements, never knowing when the hammer would drop. The life of a divorce attorney isn’t a pleasant one either. I desperately wanted to help people put their lives back together, but I felt so limited. Limited by what the law allowed, limited by what they could afford to pay me…I just felt like I was doing nothing good with my life. Couple that with getting engaged while working on divorces every day. I felt like I knew the “escape route” too well. I didn’t want divorce to feel “normal” – but yet, there it was, in my face every single day. Not exactly a fun way to walk into a marriage, surrounded by marriages that are falling apart. It became apparent that my values didn’t line up with the values of the firm, and everyone seemed to walk around on egg shells. I dreaded going to work every day.
And then…my number came up. Once the golden child who was promised the world, I found myself carrying a cardboard box out of the place where my dream of being a lawyer became a reality.
But yet, when I walked out that day, I felt a sense of relief. I had NO idea what I would do next. I had no job prospects and not a lot of work experience under my belt. But I knew I didn’t want to be there anymore. At least I didn’t have to go somewhere I hated being every day.
I had no idea what my future held, but I knew Who held my future.
As I look back over the past 5 years, I am amazed at the path God set before me. When I got home from work that day, I emailed a close friend and administrator at the law school. He invited me to come work with him until I found a permanent law job somewhere else. I started at the law school, and it didn’t take long for me to ask if this temporary position could become a permanent one. It did and I spent the next few years working with law students and I loved it. I told my boss at one point that only the perfect job would take me away from that place. Then…it came along. I left that job on great terms and moved back to my hometown to lead a non-profit organization and I’ve been there the past two and a half years and I love what I do.
That law firm job feels like a hundred years ago. Another lifetime.
Or it did…until last night.
I received an email from a former co-worker, the one who helped me pack up my cardboard box of belongings on the day I got fired. I haven’t talked to him since that day. He told me in his email that he has been working at that firm for the past 5+ years, and has seen the high turnover continue – over 32 associates/paralegals in those 5 years. And then yesterday…his number came up. He and his paralegal were fired without warning, about 10 minutes before he was supposed to leave for vacation. My heart broke for him. What had become a distant memory for me had been his reality for the past five years. While I moved forward with my life, getting married, having children, working in jobs I loved – he had stayed in that nightmare. Maybe it didn’t always feel like a nightmare to him, maybe he enjoyed being there. Until yesterday when it all fell apart.
Hearing from him brought back so many memories, but mostly it made me SO thankful. I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I had spent the past five years in that place. Looking back, getting fired is the best thing that ever happened to me on my career path. Go figure.
As I reflect on all this, I am reminded me that we can trust God even when we don’t understand what He is doing. I had no idea what the future held for me that day as I carried my cardboard box out of my office. And yet, I am so thankful for how He has led and guided my life in directions I would not have predicted. If you’re walking through a season of uncertainty, keep your eyes on Him and remember that He is FOR you, not against you! He has a plan, He is good, and He can be trusted. The path doesn’t always look the way we thought it should. That’s okay. In fact, sometimes that is a good thing.
Has your life ever taken an unexpected turn that you later realized was a blessing?