Up in the Air

The corporate world can be a brutal place and there’s little room for sensitivity or sentimentality, which was perfectly depicted in a film I recently watched – Up in the Air. It centred on a man who worked for a company which specialised in termination services – i.e. firing people. The protagonist travelled across the US and systematically fired people on behalf of employers who lacked the decency or courage to do it themselves.

Although the film had a number of themes, it was the swift disposal of a conveyor belt of unsuspecting employees, which gripped my attention. Their reactions and despair were so convincing that I found myself engrossed in their fears, dejection and sense of betrayal. However, it wasn’t just clever filmmaking or authentic storytelling which captivated me, but the fact that I too had suffered the ignominy of redundancy and could relate to their experiences.

After graduation, I had settled into a comfortable career, enjoying my work and making steady progress, until suddenly I was surplus to requirements. At the time, I was almost fifty and insecurities about my age and a dearth of opportunities fuelled an already bleak outlook. As I still had energy and ambition and was unwilling to settle for whatever role came my way, I dreaded the reaction of a commercially motivated world, which valued youth over experience.

Consequently, watching Up in the Air hit a raw nerve. Suddenly, I was transported back to a time when I felt rejected and fearful of the future. I remembered how I’d turned to God in desperation and how He had encouraged me to vent all fears and doubts, leaving no stone unturned. I had done just that until exhaustion had overwhelmed me and I waited for Him to speak.

God began by reminding me that I had fallen prey to the modern world’s conditioning, that all success was dependent on human effort alone. My despair was rooted in a belief that the future was entirely reliant on my endeavours, with no acknowledgement of the role God played. Throughout history, believers had turned to God at the first sign of adversity, yet here I was calling on Him as a last resort. I had forgotten my faith and what it meant to live by faith. After all, if faith couldn’t help me at a time like this, what purpose did it serve? Chastened, I hung my head in shame, only to realise God wasn’t reprimanding me, but offering me hope.

I realised that living by faith meant accepting that something beyond us, far greater and more powerful than human effort, was capable of delivering what the earthly world considered beyond us. The rational mind was incapable of understanding such a concept and my despair had been exacerbated by a subconscious endorsement of human insecurities. What I needed was a reminder of the role God played in my life. Once I understood that, fear and despair would fall away. And so it proved; shortly afterwards, an unsolicited opportunity fell into my lap and I happily returned to work.

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