The first complete day of Brandon’s unemployment was full of hard choices. We had to make a game plan for our future: How should we approach the job hunt? How should his termination be explained to potential employers? How can we make our resources stretch during a time in our nation’s economy that unemployment can last months, even years? Do the terms of his dismissal disqualify him from unemployment benefits?
Brandon spent the morning of this momentous day meeting with the Human Resources Department of his now former employer. As he explained the events that lead up to his termination, the HR representative he met with was surprised. Apparently the steps outlined in the organization’s policies concerning termination were not followed by the department Brandon worked for. Brandon should not have been dismissed as quickly, and as heartlessly, as he was. The HR representative asked him if he would like to fight for his job back. HR would even help. Brandon quickly declined the offer.
Baby girl and I were outside hanging laundry up when Brandon returned home from his meeting and told me of the offer to fight for his job back. I felt some hope. To have his job back would give us income and give him experience while he searched for a position that fit him better. Then Brandon told me he had declined the offer. I was devastated. However, I tried to tactfully ask him about his reasoning without indicating that I do not trust my husband. I do trust him very much, I just didn’t understand why he would give up this fight so automatically. I told him that I needed to pray about it to get confirmation that walking away was the best choice.
During our last job search Brandon included me in every decision. When we could sense a job offer coming we would decide together what he would say if it was offered. Even then, when the offer came he would say, “Let me talk to my wife and get back to you.” He wanted to make double sure we were on the same page. For this reason it came as a bit of a shock when he chose not to try and retain his most recent job without checking with me first. I was worried that he made the decision based on emotions without also taking a logical approach.
We spent the rest of the day discussing the pros and cons of fighting. OK, let’s be honest…I spent the day weighing the pros and cons. Brandon felt sure about his choice. More questions came up for me. What would the process be to get the job back? What would the work environment be like for Brandon if he did go back? How would the process and the result affect our marriage and home life?
I Googled “How to Fight For Your Job Back” and got some informative articles. The Internet is good like that. Probably the most helpful was one from Workplace Fairness. It helped me understand what the general process was.
The answers to the rest of my questions could not be Googled. I had to search my heart. As I thought about what fighting for the job would mean for our family without the financial considerations I remembered a talk given in church a few weeks ago. The woman who spoke based most of her remarks on another talk given by Marvin J Ashton at the April 1978 Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The title of the talk, “No Time For Contention,” stood out to me. To fight for the job would bring contention into our lives. Even if Brandon was reinstated, the work environment, which was already contentious, would become increasingly so. This would drain Brandon of both physical and emotional energy, crippling his ability to present himself well to potential employers. More importantly he would be less present in my life and our daughter’s life.
Ultimately I chose to stand by my husband’s decision. I am grateful he had the insight to instantly know what took me time to figure out. In the words of Marvin J. Ashton, “Contention builds walls and puts up barriers. Love opens doors. Ours is to be heard and teach. Ours is not only to avoid contention, but to see that such things are done away.”
So we have walked away from a source of contention in our lives. Love will open doors. We have had doors opened to us by friends and family who love us. We truly do not have time for contention if we are to move forward.