thoughts on my 6-month anniversary of being laid off

the other day i was thinking about my lay off from youth specialties (really, from zondervan, in reality), which i don’t do as often these days. i happened to be looking at my calendar at the time, and thought about how it was october 19 when the shoe dropped. and, i was struck by the realization that today is 6 months. already. that surprised me.

it feels more like 3 months.

i spent a little time with current ys-staffer adam mclane last night, and, as is normal, we talked about ys and what’s going on in that world. they’ve moved offices (again – we’d moved to a new place last june). and there are only a handful of people there. and, i was once again struck by the reality that this new, or different, ys is moving on.

and so am i.

there’s no question that i miss so much of my old role. i miss the people i worked with (and am so lousy at that staying-in-touch-when-life-is-busy thing). i miss the buzz of a busy workplace, hearing laughter, wrestling with things together. i miss the working-together collaborative way we were trying to do things around there, particularly with the ys leadership team. i miss being part of a team, and leading a team. shoot — i even miss meetings (because our meetings were usually fun, even when we were dealing with tough stuff).

but here’s what i know today: if i were offered my old job, i wouldn’t take it.

in my first month, all i could really feel was the pain of what felt so horrible. there was anger and loss and anxiety and insecurity and sadness all smashed up into a nasty little ball of mush. but the dominant emotion was hurt. i could go into my head, and look at the piece-parts that added up to the reality, and knew that i wasn’t a failure. and i knew that the people who really knew the whole story didn’t see me as a failure. but my emotions still screamed, “FAILURE!”; and i was awash in a mostly inescapable feeling that the world out there was screaming the same thing.

but that feeling, once i got past the initial shock and pain of the corporate process in which i was let go, slinked away and was replaced by a combination of hope and sadness of loss. hope, for sure; but combined with a reality that i was losing people, experiences, and things i loved that would never return, never be the same. in the last few months, i’ve been charging forward on many new projects and opportunities. and it’s deeply good. other than some ongoing anxiety over whether or not what i’m currently doing will be sustainable in the coming year(s), i’m generally excited about what’s on my plate, about being home, and about the diversity of stuff i get to play in these days. even my increased travel has not been an issue (as it was in the past), since, when i’m not traveling, i’m home (and not going to an office for 10 hours a day). i occasionally feel a bit lonely and isolated, sitting here at my little desk; but i realize it’s the flip-side of the “i just need some time alone” feeling i used to have. and my relational tanks are pretty full these days, with the great people-stuff i get to be involved in.

i’m feeling a little melancholy today, particularly as i write this. but that’s rare these days. mostly, i’m pressing into what the week has to offer. in the last 10 days, for example, i got to speak to parents about teenagers, teach youth workers in guatemala, spend a day at home getting caught up, which included writing a couple magazine columns and a book chapter, conduct a 1:1 coaching time with a youth worker, connect with a non-profit i’m doing some consulting with and move that project forward, spend two days with the 9 youth workers in my youth ministry coaching program, and travel with my son to baltimore to speak to a couple hundred junior highers. what a freakin’ great week!

i’ll be coming to both youth specialties conventions this fall (in san diego and nashville) and doing a few seminars in each. i know the time there will be awkward for me at times, and i’ll feel a bit lost at times. but i also can’t imagine a place i’d rather be. well, other than, like, a beach in tahiti or something, or, ya know, heaven.

11 thoughts on “thoughts on my 6-month anniversary of being laid off”

  1. Marko:
    Enjoyed your post. I was laid off from my job while on maternity leave 13 years ago (Zach!) It was the best thing that ever happened to me. While I can certainly relate to the challenges of working from a home office, I could never go back to the corporate world. Running your own business/company is challenging and requires an entirely new set of skills, but the plus sides, especially the flexibility of meeting my families needs first, far outweigh the challenges. Bravo to you for pushing through the tough stuff. It’s where we learn the most!

  2. I have been following your blogs for two or three years now, and one thing that strikes me, although I don’t actually know you at all, is that you seem to be brilliant at living.

    Especially when it comes to being productive and finding balances in life. Somehow you seem to always get heaps of things done in your professional life, while maintaining good relationships, spending quality time with your family, finding time for spirituality, traveling, blogging, reading, and general goof off time.

    I could be way off here, but I don’t think I know anyone who seems to maintain that balance quite as well as you do. If you ever do a course in life management, I will catch a plane from Sweden to come out and attend.

  3. Marko,
    I had no idea until today that you were laid off. So sorry to hear that happened to you. Glad that you are working through it and God is moving you to a new thing and a new reality and a new hope and purpose and well, the next amazing way He will continue to reveal Himself to you.

    Blessings on you my friend,

  4. Good to hear you’re doing OK, and that you’re still processing a bit. To end a life chapter of that magnitude will always take some adjustment and some time. And I know you don’t need me to say it, and I know there are several thousand people that could easily “plus one” this next statement, and I know you know it already and always have known it, but .. you’re not a failure :)

    I can echo some of your feelings as I consider where my home is .. and where it was. Most of all, I loved to see your awesome week walked out, which looks like the sort of week you used to relish, and it’s so nice to see that you still do.

    Keep walking, and we’ll do likewise, in parallel paths that meet on occasion. I love it when they do.

  5. I was laid off from Worship Leader Magazine about a year and a half ago, best thing that ever happened to me, but you really nailed the feelings and process you go through in this post. Thanks for the articulation of what has been a long and windy road… are doing so great after six months Mark. Truly. God has some great plans for your ministry I can tell He is using you in a big way already and will continue to increase your vision and ministry as you move closer to the wisdome that you have gained from all of this experience. The Lord continue to bless you.

    Julie Reid

  6. Marko- Good words. I’m stoked to see that God is clearly taking care of you and you are finding some peace in the midst of all of this. I know you didn’t ask for it in your post but I wanted to encourage you and remind you that you have touched so many people and most of us are better youth workers and pastors because of it. I hope you never look back to the YS years and see any sort of failure because the reality is that God used you in a hugely impactful way to grow a ton of people and ultimately impact hundreds of thousands of teenagers.

    Like many others who have commented here I’ve been blessed to be let go. It was probably the only way I’d have left that situation and the blinders I had on didn’t allow me to see that there were other places God wanted to use me.

  7. Thank you for your encouraging honesty, Marko. As you can tell by my screen name, I am not in a place to share my ‘normal screen name’ (I’ve posted before and surely have friends who know me as that name who would go, “Huh? What’s up there?”, and not ready for that. I don’t wrestle with being laid off (yet), but I do wrestle some nearly 8-months after what I would call a “dream job I thought I had, then the future church said ‘just kidding’ in the 11th hour”. I was (at times, is) bummed that I was stuck back in the same place. Wondered why God would let me get so far in a process just to have it change on a dime (I was their ‘chosen candidate’, was negotiating the package, and was going to be announced the following Sunday…then got a call from the consultant they were using-not the pastors I had been talking with-saying, “We’ve decided to postpone this hire”). Now, in the coming months, I DID see God’s hand in both my family’s personal life and in the ministry here at my current church that was evidence of, “This is why I had you stay”, but I still have lingering questions at times. And add to that, the realization from some at my church that it appears I’ve ‘hit my ceiling’ here in terms of being able to care for my family finiancially in the current locale, and due to the prevailing thought in my denomination that youth ministry is either a 1) stepping stone to being a ‘real pastor’, or 2) the church hires to fill a position, not so much hires a PERSON they believe in, so therefore while we would love to stay here and possibly use my gifts to expand other areas in the church (young adults? college? families?) or even just continue to facilitate the teens, that is not what seems is an option…

    Sorry this turned into a vent session, but it was needed…and seeing how you have negotiated it all gives me GREAT hope!

    —for now, just ‘Anonymous Eponymous’

  8. The moving on part is painful, as it requires a grieving process that we are really not that interested in going through, but when we come up for air, we really can see the road that we are headed down. And it’s exciting, but scary. So we feel the fear and we do it anyway. I did not leave my last church on very good terms – my fiance died, I turned into a terrible drunk, etc. Not a good scene. But looking back on it. Thank GOD. THANK YOU GOD. That I left. Today, I am living my dream of really and truly helping people and sharing the gospel. It’s not in a church and it’s never in a building, but this is where I’m supposed to be. You’ll find that place, too. And you’ll wonder that it took so very long to come to you. Enjoy the process.

  9. Glad you’re doing well and excited about where God has you now.
    Still praying for you and in particular the days when you miss it.
    Saw that you were going to be at NYWC…only in the Christian world and through God’s grace does that kind of thing happen, I’m sure it will be bittersweet in some ways but seriously, how cool of a redemption moment will that be as well for both you and YS

  10. Marko,

    This may sound really insignificant, but your honesty and openness about all that has happened has been a tremendous help for me as I have, over the last 20 months, gone through the forced resignation of my senior pastor (I’m an associate pastor) and my own seeking out of a new call. Nothing as traumatic as you went through, but seeing where your head was has helped me keep my head in a fairly good place. I’m now in the saying-goodbye phase as I have accepted a solo pastorate call about 2 hours away from my current position.

    Thank you for all you have shared here!

    Blessings and Christ’s peace to you.

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