About 6 1/2 years ago, I made a wise decision. Had I kept acting wisely, the story would have ended very differently. In a nutshell, I made a wise decision, followed by a couple of stupid, really bad decisions based on fear. The end result was that I resigned from a job that many people (myself included) considered a plum position. The job loss affected me professionally; more importantly, it negatively impacted my family, as they were directly affected by the loss of my income and the public embarrassment my actions brought about.

I began searching for a new job, hampered by both a tough job market in my career field in general and by the lack of positions within my specific driving distance of about 100 miles each way (a very long drive but “desperate times . . .  desperate measures”). At the same time, I sought part-time employment with a former employer and was immediately hired. I was told I would be working a very limited number of hours, but each semester something unforeseen happened just before the semester began that caused a welcome increase in my course load. Each term, my income was at least equal to what it had been in my previous position; one term, I made twice as much. Not only was I earning enough to make up what I had been making, I was doing so while working about 1/2 the number of hours, and I had no out-of-class duties for which I received no pay.

Over the course of the next 3 years, I added another part-time position with my then-current employer; additionally, a coworker told me about another part-time position. I applied and was hired. Between these 3 positions, I was still working less and making significantly more than I had earned at the position I lost. And while I didn’t realize it at the time, I was also receiving another very important benefit. Almost every semester, I taught at least one course at the developmental education level (a course for students whose test scores indicated they were not ready for college-level courses in my subject area).

And then, July and August and September 2009 brought horrendous tragedy in the form of my husband’s diagnosis and passing. Of course, his death impacted my life and the lives of our children in many, many ways, some of which were financial.  He earned about 70% of our family income, and the children and I had excellent, very affordable health insurance through his employer. When he passed away, I had 12 months to find a full-time job with benefits for my children and for myself. Within a few months of my husband’s passing, I heard of 2 openings in a city about 110 miles from where we lived. I applied for both, interviewed at both, and accepted the first one offered to me. I began my new job in August 1010, 12 days before our insurance coverage through my husband’s employer was terminated.

At this point, you may be wondering what in the world I am rambling on and on about. Stay with me a bit longer — I’ll explain. But first, I need to go back to the first part of this story. It’s important that I not gloss over the fact that I made some errors, did wrong, screwed up. That’s important. But what is even more important is how my mistakes weren’t the end of the story.

Had I not made a couple of significant, bad choices, I would have had no reason to return to a previous place of employment which led to:

1. experience in an area within my field that I had no previous experience in, which was 2. the main requirement for the full-time position I so badly needed and was hired for after my husband passed away, which 3. has wonderful benefits and 4. pays almost 3 times what I was getting paid (which was about 1/3 of our total family income) and 5. opened professional opportunities that I would not otherwise have had and which open other doors, and which eventually led to 6my being chosen to serve my employer in a 1-semester position abroad beginning in January.

I spent some time this past week reflecting on the past 6 1/2 years, re-reading journal entries and contemplating the various events, and it is amazingly clear that the horrible experience of  losing my job, stressing every semester about whether or not I would have enough hours to earn enough to do my part to make ends meet, etc. was actually a blessing in disguise. You may not be a Christian, and you may even be offended by what I’m going to say, but I know it to be true. God took the mess I created — a mess I could not fix (believe me, I tried) — and led me down a long, winding road to where I am today.

Hopefully, I’ll continue on the road of my life for many, many years. I have no idea where it will lead me, but the past 6 1/2 years have taught me to travel that road unburdened by worry, and I’m making every effort to do just that. It’s been an interesting trip so far — many highs and some devastating lows, along with twists and turns that kept me from seeing where the road was headed — and I’m looking forward to the next part of the journey.

I imagine that as you look back over your life, you can see times where mistakes you despaired of, that caused you great stress and heartache, actually led to wonderful things you would never have experienced had you not misstepped in the first place. I’d love to hear about your experience; if you feel comfortable sharing, I hope you will — either through a comment or by emailing me. Have a wonderful weekend!