By Celena Spencer
At the age of 38, married with three kids, I almost died. I knew death would be inevitable and I saw my life dwindling before me. I could not control my actions or my thoughts. I woke up each day with a heavy heart and a discontented spirit, one where I saw the glass as always half-empty. Something was missing in my life, and I felt like I was not living anymore. I was overweight, overzealous with my career, easily angered and impatient with my kids and husband. I did not have much time to commune with God and I approached every situation with an ungrateful attitude. I was dying on the inside and it showed on the outside. I often fell asleep at the wheel while driving; this went on for about a year. I wanted to be the perfect mom to three children, and keep up with being a supervisor in a large school district. In the meantime, I was losing myself. I felt I was going to die early. I anticipated death with the path that I was traveling down and I knew it was only a matter of time. I desperately needed God to give me a new beginning.
Instead of getting better, things got worse. In May of 2016, I was told that I would lose my job due to a reduction in force. My immediate response was, “I am talented and experienced. I will be fine. I will find a job in no time.” As time passed, and summer turned to fall, I started to scream inside. I said to myself, “Now I will have to stay at home with my children and I am not a stay at home mom.” I was scared and frustrated but, more importantly, I felt like I was in a desolate place. When my husband would tell me that we would be okay, I looked at him and then at our three kids and back at him and thought to myself, you have got to be kidding me. All I saw was the mortgage and bills stacked high but my husband remained calm and said, “It will be okay.” All the while, I was panicking. I have worked my entire life and loved working but now I felt like I had nothing. After 11 interviews, I asked God, “Why am I not being hired?” Now, it was the beginning of September. My two oldest kids were back in school, my youngest was in daycare, and I still did not have a job. I became so infuriated with God. I was mad at Him for the circumstances of my life. I worked hard to get to where I was in my career and this is not what I expected to happen.
One morning after dropping off the kids, I was by myself and it was quiet. At this moment, God gave me a glimpse of who I had become. He showed me someone who was unrecognizable. I was impatient and thoughtless, vain and angry. The person I saw, I did not know and it grieved my spirit to the point that I could not hold back my tears. As my tears poured onto the table, I realized that even though I had masked these feelings and behaviors, they had begun to spill out at different times during my life.
And now, I was at a place in my life where I was condemning the name of Jesus. I was not living for God; I was not living out my true purpose, the assignment God knitted for me in my mother’s womb. God called me to be an educator, of that I am certain, but was education my only calling? I wrestled with these feelings until I realized that God was showing me a new way to live. He was asking me to live with an open door policy, where He leads and I follow, without any preconceived ideas. This was my new beginning, the one that I had so desperately prayed for.
If there is one thing I have learned from my experience of being laid off, it is that maintaining a relationship with God is an intentional effort. God forced me to be still and listen. At first, I did not want to listen but now, I cannot get enough. He has shown me how I was destroying myself, the calling on my life, my marriage, and my family. This season was not a time for being alone as I initially thought. I realized this is a time to learn, listen and be held by Him. God is changing my whole life, from my perspective to the way I approach situations and people. Before, an ungrateful spirit consumed my thoughts; my tongue would always find a reason to complain. Now when I wake up, I thank God for breath, that my three children are healthy and that we have food consistently in the refrigerator. I am thankful for the roof over my head, thankful that all three of my children have beds to sleep in, and thankful that we can take a family vacation. When I am finished thanking Him, how can I be ungrateful?
Each magnetic drop of a new beginning has brought me to this point in my life. The funny thing is God knew that I would come to this point, where I would need a drop of his love in the form of a new beginning. Now, not only does he want to show me his love, he also wants to create in me a new person where he is glorified through my life. By allowing me to be unemployed, God needed me to be still, so that he could show me what I have become before it was too late. There are many people who do not get a second chance or an opportunity to make things right. I am extremely grateful for this new beginning. I thank God each day for his love for me. To be loved and cared for in this way is indescribable.
God has shown me that I need him every day. Although I have viewed my time off as unemployment, God views it as a time of rebuilding and restoring. He has been my teacher for the last 10 months, and for that I am grateful.
Celena is a happy wife and mother of three. She taught ESL in the public schools for 11 years. During this time, she became a vice principal and a supervisor of bilingual/ESL. Currently, Celena has become a stay-at-home mom who enjoys each day with her husband and three children.