One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome when I first began to really understand that God was prompting me to leave my full time job was the obvious blaring truth that no one leaves their job after working somewhere 26 years. Especially someone like myself who only had 3 1/2 years to go until I could take early retirement with a full pension.
I wrestled back and forth with God about this for several years. The more obvious it became to me that He really was telling me to leave, the more I would ask Him how he expected me to survive financially if I left. He knew as well as I did that I’ve never had anyone that I could fall back on in my life and so this risk wasn’t one that I could just take and hope for the best.
What is amazing about this entire journey is that He never lost His patience with me as I tried to wrap my head around this concept. He always managed to communicate with me in a way that I could understand His direction. He did this a variety of ways, but mostly through what I call “God Taps” and through other people’s actions or words.
One of the most powerful ways He helped me get over the thought that no one quits their job after 26 years, was to use someone else to prove to me that people really do. Kathy started working where I worked about 3 months after I started. We became fast friends and hung out a lot. We were union members and Kathy became very involved in the union leadership. She always knew so much more about the company, the union, the rules, the proper expected behavior, etc. than I could ever hope to know. I always admired her and looked up to her for that reason.
Both of us were “lifers”, just doing our time like a prison sentence until we could retire. The company we worked for was so unbelievably toxic that you could never just go to work and do your job. There was always drama, hurtful and false rumors and management vs union wars. People stayed there because of the great benefits and wages – that was it. I don’t think anyone there actually enjoyed their jobs.
In August 2011, Kathy was preparing to go on vacation for 2 weeks. The day before her vacation started, she was going through the things in her desk – tossing old notes, giving away this or that trinket and getting her stuff organized (you know I’m all about that!). Nothing seemed funny about it at all. We all get the bug to declutter and organize from time to time so I saw it as nothing more than that.
However, the very next day someone told me that Kathy had given her 2 weeks notice and she wasn’t coming back. She hadn’t told a soul she was leaving until after she left. I remember thinking to myself “WHAT?!?! That can’t be possible. Not Kathy! She’s so much smarter than that!”. The minute I heard this I texted her begging her to tell me if what I had heard was true or not. She confirmed that it was all true. She wasn’t coming back. (Kathy now spends her days helping motivate people to lose weight. Check it out.)
This was the day that God smacked me in the face with someone else’s actions and said “Yes. People really do leave. Even after investing 26 years of their lives somewhere. And that is what I’m telling you to do”. From that day forward, the ball was in motion for me to figure out how to make the leap myself. This included meeting with a financial planner, refinancing my house to reduce my interest rate, discontinuing anything that wasn’t necessary (house phone, extra cable channels, etc) and challenging God a few more times to be sure before I actually took the leap in March 2013.