Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

On Being Fired or Laid Off

Back just before World War II, my grandfather was working in the car factories in Flint, Michigan. He was also working as a welder and trying to run the family farm. He also had a wife and two young children to support, so he was under a lot of stress and was always tired. One day at his welding job he fell asleep. His supervisor discovered him in slumber, woke him up and fired him.

I tell you that story to tell you this one.

In 1979 I was a brand new graduate of the Medical Assistant program at my local junior college. I was full of enthusiasm and determination. I got a job working for a doctor named Dr. Mac doing some clinical things and running the front desk. I remember being called into his office and being told that he was letting me go because he was taking his family to the Lake Placid Olympics and he had to cut back on expenses. I was devastated; but I quickly called my college's placement department and they found me a position at an outpatient psychiatric clinic.

Now that place was a little whacky. Much of the time I felt that the staff had as many mental issues as the clients. Nonetheless I worked there for a few months. Then one day, as I was manning the reception desk, one of the social workers came up to me to say he was sorry that I was leaving and he wished me much success in my future endeavors. Well this was news to me, but I later discovered that there had been an earlier staff meeting and it had been announced that I was leaving at the end of the week. They were terminating my employment and everyone knew it except me.

I remember laying in the bathtub in my little newlywed apartment crying my eyes out. I had some how managed to from being an honor student in high school and college to being a two time loser when it came to the job market. What was wrong with me? And as I sobbed the phone rang. It was my grandfather. I was so embarrassed to talk with him. He had always worked very hard and as far as I knew he had held his last job for decades! and had managed his farm for about as long as that. How was it then that his granddaughter couldn't hold a job in her chosen field for more than a few months?!

But my grandfather didn't call to scold or put me down. He told me the story of falling asleep on the job and getting fired and how badly that made him feel. But what he really wanted me to know was that sometimes good people lose jobs, but they can still get back on their feet, survive and even prosper.

So yesterday it was my turn to pay it forward. A good friend of mine just lost a job she has had for a very long time. I shared my story and even my grandpa's story of losing jobs and moving forward. I told her that sometimes when God closes a door, He opens a window - and sometimes He has to kick us through it! But what looks like a set back might be an opportunity. And I told her that in a year or two she might look back at where she is today and really marvel in how far she has come! I think she might have felt a little more encouraged when I got off the phone with her.

At the time it happened to me I remember not understanding any of God's plan for my life. But I'm glad that I can use a little bit of my experience, bad or good, to encourage someone else, because indeed I have been there and done that, and even lived some more to tell about it!

Incidentally, if you really need to drive this point home, get the movie Joseph (1995) (2pc) [VHS]. The scene where Joseph is caged in an Egyptian prison crying out to God who seems to have forsaken him is very, very powerful. And as we all know, Joseph does get released from prison and eventually becomes the second most powerful man in the land - but the only way he could have gotten there, is through imprisonment. I think about that scene very often.

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