Updated: Jun 11
In June of 2020 I was cancelled.
Similar to other cancel culture narratives, mine involved an online mob, gas lighting, a unanimous betrayal by peers, implicit racist/sexist accusations, and an egregious lack of knowledge concerning context.
I should also add: opportunism. Most are not aware their closest friends and colleagues are sharks, until they witness the thrashing happening as a result of smelling blood in the water.
However, dissimilar to other cancel culture narratives, I wasn't fired. I was demoted, and lost a quarter of my salary; but I was given the opportunity to stay employed and work in another area or, participate in a kind of "counseling/re-education" program with my current peers and stay in the area I had worked for the past twenty years.
I chose neither.
Four years from retirement.
Unable to fathom how I could subject myself to staying in a work culture freshly poisoned by betrayal and the zeitgeist of critical race theory, I've often been tempted to believe that in leaving, I took the "easy" way out.
Staying to daily lay myself down within the chalked outline that marked my professional death, seemed a much greater travail than simply shaking the dust off my feet and putting people, places, and policies in my rearview mirror.
In reality, leaving was much harder.
Here's what still would have come with the bitter taste of staying: a paycheck, insurance, our home, our dog, familiarity with community, purposeful daily employment, retirement...security...
Leaving provided none of this. Leaving was floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight; only the occasional dorsal fin surfacing in the distance. Leaving was to enter the blackness of night without the promise of dawn. Leaving turned out to be more scary, more stress inducing, and more isolating.
But only for a time.
Because leaving also provided something that staying couldn't provide: a crucible in which faith and trust were purified like precious metals.
Galatians 5:22-23 states, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law."
You cannot cultivate this fruit. ”Christian graces are the products of the indwelling divine life, and nothing else will succeed in producing them" (MacLaren Expositions of Holy Scripture).
Love is at the top of this list, and love is the courier providing transport like sap through a tree for the other eight to manifest in the life of the believer. Love is primary, and that love only grows to the measure in which we live in, and partake of, the love of God.
"True peace comes not from the absence of trouble but from the presence of God" (MacLaren).
And so...my wife and I found ourselves catapulted into the arms of Jesus like we had never before experienced, when two years ago, every fuse to every bomb was lit and exploded in our lives.
We were lovingly brought into a position of humility, where our reliance upon Christ meant everything.
Our faith, which before this incident might be more readily defined as "belief", has been transformed into a living trust. Trusting in Jesus is being utterly dependent on him for every provision: material, emotional, and spiritual.
Here's what we've learned: this trust is produced most profoundly through suffering.
These times are perilous. The waters are dark. The sharks are circling. Whether this resonates with your personal life or career or both, look toward the lighthouse in the gathering storm, and draw close to the One who illuminates truth and radiates love.
The next few blogs I'll use this experience as a framework to unpack how one navigates their artistic journey as a Christ-follower.