Everything is perfect right… You are taught, “Get a job… Be consistent in that job… Get tons of education… Apply what you’ve learned… Pay your bills on time… Take care of your family (if you choose to get one)… AND everything will work out for you as long as you are a smart, positive, productive, and a moral citizen…”
Life has a way of taking even the simplistic desires of our heart(s) and flipping them upside down…leaving you to wonder, “Is something wrong with me?” or better yet, “Am I not doing something right?…”
How do I know? Well, life was going well…I was working on staff at a church, caring for my family, and started Love Beyond Walls in my spare time… Well, seven days after Easter of this year (2014) I was called into the church office (where I was on staff), and laid off for starting Love Beyond Walls. I think the phrase was, “I think you should go do that 100% because you are not a fit anymore…”
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is where life flips everything upside down…and I was left on the bottom… My heart stopped…In fact, I’m in tears writing this because I felt ashamed to share it at first.
Initially, when I started #lovebeyondwalls I was only devoting part-time energy to it, and had tons of volunteer help (still have a great team). In fact, the organization’s success is not because of me, but because of the team my wife and I have around us…
But, soon LBW began to grow, gain a little attention and involvement, and suddenly I was told “You are not a fit anymore…It’s not what we do…”
But wait, isn’t this the church’s mission? Love God, Love People, and Serve the least of these? It is….But, at some churches (NOT ALL) it is more about what goes on inside the four walls of the church instead of the people outside the walls that need the love of God, and the good news (not apologizing for stepping on toes, but it is true).
Yes, you heard me… I was given a pink slip, and even told not to come back to the church anymore. Why? I hadn’t done anything criminal or out of line. I just wanted to love on people who I know that God loves, but do not have a voice. However, I have chosen to forgive the mistreatment I received.
In fact, it happened about five days before we launched a campaign called #closetstrike… A campaign where our organization raised awareness about children who attend title 1 schools, and have to wear the same thing every single day because they lack resources at home. I started wearing one outfit every single day (for 90 days), and had to deal with not having a job because of a lay off.
Not only has this been the most difficult journey of my life, it has been the most rewarding too… I have served others with love, compassion, and grace knowing in the back of my mind I could relate to them even more. How have I been able to do it… Simple. HOPE, FOCUS, SUPPORT, AND GOD’S STRENGTH!
Since my layoff, God has provided for my family, and the work we are doing through selfless individuals who see value in our work.
But, if I could be honest this layoff has been both a blessing and a challenge. It has been a blessing because I have been devoted more to building our organization and seeing more impact, but it has been a challenge because I haven’t been able to find more employment with four degrees in one of the worse states for the jobless (GA).
Why put this out there? Simple. It’s to let people know that God does still move in the midst of pain, and in the midst of loss. It is to let people know that you can persevere and build something even though HELL itself is suggesting you should stop and quit. The only thing that has keep me going has been my family and knowing that I am supposed to take hope and love to people who want to throw in the towel.
But here is the good news…We have grown a little more, and in about 15 days, I’m going to release one of the biggest projects we have ever worked on in our lives as an organization.
I can’t wait to write more about the journey I am weathering and our attempt to beat it by doing more good, and serving more people with the love of God.
Below is a picture of a bus we were recently donated… We will share our vision for how we will reach more with it in the coming days.