Women of Reverence welcomes Linda Lentle as a guest blogger.
Linda Lentle is a strategist with more than 21 years of experience in development and implementation of integrated marketing and communication strategies.
She has recently served as Chairperson on the iGas Board of Directors and presented the keynote address “The Gas Revolution in Africa” at the Africa Energy Indaba 2020 Gas Forum.
She owns and manages Rooted Marketing Communications (www.rootedmarketing.co.za) and an alternative building materials company Advanced Value Add (www.advancedvalue.co.za). She also serves as the Treasure on the board of Break-through Centre, an NGO that takes care of HIV interventions as well as orphans and vulnerable children.
Lentle believes we achieve more by forging associations, collaborations and partnerships.
I recently woke up wanting to share my BP retrenchment experience, as I know so many people going through the pain and uncertainty of a looming job and income loss. Being a "high pot" (a term we used to refer to high potential individuals earmarked for growth into senior roles) with known career accolades, I naively assumed immunity. I spent a lot of time counselling others and helping them each for work. By God's grace I was headhunted by a multinational company with offices closer to home and the school of my first born, who was the only child at the time. A complete industry change and a role driving innovation were appealing. But I loved BP and was not quite ready to leave. I had a lot to offer still and had identified my next 3 moves. Talk about active career mapping!
I got the offer letter from the building materials manufacturer before the confirmation of my retrenchment, so I thought I was fine when I got the unexpected news. I would be fine. I was not stranded without a job. I had an exciting new career path to carve. So I lived out my excitement and forgot to check and respond to my feelings about the retrenchment. I continued to buffer and absorb the pain of others as I comforted and encouraged them.
Years on, at the peak of a thriving career in the building materials space a strange phenomenon began. I would find myself bursting into tears while driving to work. I would cry buckets even driving out to get food from a nearby shop and back. I was giving so much of myself to every position I held that I had nothing left for me. I was running on empty and did not realize it because I had a ladder to climb.
Then it hit me that despite all that, someone outside of me could end it all without my full consent or even consultation. They would do what is best for them and their business. I was overstretched because each person who left was not replaced. I was coping and the business needed to manage costs. Only then did I feel the real pain of the retrenchment.
One day I woke up and set a plan in motion to create my own path and start my business full time. Giving it my all. The crying from school drop off to continued. I resuscitated my marketing consulting business, developed a few marketing strategies. I successfully coordinated and facilitated a 3-day strategic planning workshop, securing a retainer with the accounting and consulting firm, I would be fine. I held onto Genesis 28:15 New International Version (NIV)
”15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
After much praying, toiling and preparation I submitted a resignation letter simply citing fatigue as the reason. They called me in, persuading me to stay. I told them I was just too tired. I needed to focus on me for a while and do something for me.
I trusted God for my next steps and took the bunji jump to preserve and rebuild me. Fill up again, with the right things. One day I will tell you what transpired after the jump. For now, I can assure you He has been with me and has been faithful. I had to learn to trust him with my feelings and be honest about my fears and anxieties. I had to learn to let go and let Him lead me even when it was not clear. Trusting God does not mean we should suppress our feelings. I had to take this scripture beyond merely reciting it to living it. Philippians 4:6 ”Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Don't forget yourself as you provide a pillar of strength for others. I cried as I wrote this piece, confirming that healing is a journey and not an incident.
Allow yourself to feel everything you need to feel as you go through difficult and uncertain times. Even the fears and anxieties brought on by COVID-19 illness and death, business closure, job losses and retrenchment are not too much for God to help us through. We must just be open and honest about our feelings as we cry out to Him.