The first time I lost a job was when I was 16 years old. I thought I was a good worker, so I was surprised to be called into the manager’s office and told I was being fired. He said I was talking too much to other employees and it was affecting everyone’s work.
I felt like a complete failure. Even though my mom told me that things would work out, that it was a good lesson for me, and that I’d have lots of jobs during my lifetime, I couldn’t stop feeling miserable. I didn’t want to set foot in that McDonalds again or ever see that manager again.
God’s love will never end, and in Christ, I will only grow into it ever more deeply.
My Dad had other ideas. A few weeks after I was fired, he took us to the same McDonalds to eat. When the manager saw me, he came over and asked me if I wanted my job back. The other managers and supervisors told him he had fired the wrong person.
Yes, I was talking a lot, but I worked while I talked, and many of them considered me one of their hardest workers. He said he realized it wasn’t my fault others would stop working while we talked, and he wanted me to come back to work. I took the job and worked harder than ever to show my thanks for his faith in me. And I tried to not talk as much.
Looking back, I can chuckle over the experience. But I certainly wasn’t chuckling at the time, and I’ll never forget that feeling of failure and worthlessness.
I’ve had that same feeling in my spiritual life. For most of my life I tried to be a good Christian and not sin—knowing full well, deep down, that I was not a “good” Christian and that I was still sinning. I prayed in embarrassment, shame and frustration, believing I was a spiritual failure and likely to remain so. At times I was too depressed to pray. I believed I wasn’t worthy to be called a child of God.
Much like my fear of facing my McDonald’s manager, I feared facing God. Imagine my relief when I finally learned that God, in fact, loves me unconditionally and doesn’t condemn me. I am in Christ and Christ is in me. And nothing can change that. God’s love will never end, and in Christ, I will continue to grow into it more deeply forever.
Many are fearful of God because of their mistakes and failures. They’ve been taught that God is harsh and judgmental. But you and I can show them a different God—the true God, who loves them unconditionally and wants them to know they are wanted and included in Jesus Christ.
Rick Shallenberger, 2011