On Knowing When To Make The Leap

I feel the need to start this post with a disclaimer: I usually don’t bring up religious stuff here unless it’s of the general variety. In relaying this particular story–which has an element of religion included–I want you to know that I am not trying to push my religion on anybody, and hope that you will just find it interesting.

Years ago, I was selling health club memberships full time. I had been an employee there for a few years and worked part-time in different departments before landing in Membership. My full-time status came as a result of Jim having been let go from his job in the economic turmoil of 2002 (we thought it was bad THEN!). When I first started working forty hours each week, I was really happy in the position. The management team at the club was made up of a bunch of people who had been there as long as I had. We were all friendly and ate lunch together on a daily basis. My immediate supervisor, the Membership Sales Manager, taught me everything I know about sales and we got along really, really well. I was not only doing sales, but also odd jobs like writing the employee newsletter, buying fitness apparel for the pro shop, and various other tasks for different departments. I knew everyone (including the members), and everyone knew me. I loved my job. I loved my office, too: it was right inside the club entrance, the perfect location for an outgoing kind of person like me. I was accessible to everybody, and got lots of friendly smiles and waves all day long.

After a while, there was a shift in the club management. My immediate boss left the company. Other higher-ups were gone. The club was in limbo. The sales department, which was made up of me and one other woman, went for a couple of months without a boss. Though we really needed a ringleader, we did okay for those two months, stepping up where needed when it came to doing reports and talking to the corporate office. Finally, someone was hired for the position. He had been briefed on the two ladies who would be reporting to him, and he was not pleased that I was so integral to club operations as a whole. His first day was not a good one for me.

Within two hours of his arrival, it was decreed that I would be moved out of the sales office. Worse, I was being moved to a tiny room that held file cabinets in it. The room, an offshoot of the back office, was the size of a small bathroom and isolated from everybody except for the club’s Assistant Manager. It had no windows; what it did have was a huge bundle of wires (for the cable, phone, and who knows what else) that covered the corner where the two far walls met, and dingy walls. Nothing else.

The club’s maintenance man and his assistant (who also happened to be his wife) were told to ready the room for me by the next day. I was horrified. My new boss was clearly threatened by me, and he hadn’t even spent five minutes talking to me. It was a terrible feeling.

I went home and cried about it, and through my tears decided that if I had to work in that tiny little room for eight hours a day, I was going to make it pretty. I brought in some pink fabric to cover up the bundle of wires, a funky pink light, and some artificial flowers. With the maintenance team’s help, I made that room into a great little office. The three of us hugged when we were finished setting it up. I was proud of myself for not letting that jerk see how upset I was about my move: I took lemons and made lemonade.

office after 1

As you probably suspect, my pretty little office didn’t make the problems go away. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to do anything that would turn my boss’ opinion about me around. He was hostile, sneaky, and I couldn’t stand working for him. All of the changes in the club from the previous couple of months caught up with me, and soon I was crying about my job every night when I arrived home. I needed to get out of there. The problem was, I really liked the nuts and bolts of my job, and I was (am!) a very loyal employee. As unhappy as I was, I didn’t feel right about leaving.

Time went by, and that jerk was caught acting unethically by convincing two people to sign up for membership on the last day of the month so he could get his bonus, telling them they could come back and cancel the next day. He was fired.

I moved back up front to my old office, but things still didn’t get better. Things were happening in upper management that I didn’t like, and I continued to cry after work, only now I was starting as soon as I got into my car. I was so torn. I knew I needed to leave this job. I was just so scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t find another job in which I’d be happy, or make enough money, or have the flexibility I needed as a mom. I am not a fan of change. I was paralyzed by fear. The “What ifs” were preventing me from moving on.

One Friday night, Jim and I decided to go to Shabbat services at our temple. It had been a while since we had attended, and we both felt like we needed the peace that attending services always seemed to bring.

I do not consider myself an overly spiritual person. I do, however, think that those of us who have faith–no matter what the religion–only need to listen a little harder sometimes in order to hear what we need to hear.

That night, coincidence or not, our Rabbi read a passage:

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav comments on (the passage) “and they made no provisions for the way”: “When you are about to leave Egypt–ANY EGYPT–do not stop to think ‘But how will I earn a living out there…?’ One who stops to ‘make provisions for the way’ will never get out of Egypt.”

I started crying.

But wait, it gets better.

Later in the service, my Rabbi read Healing Psalm #116 by Debbie Perlman:

Sometimes You ask me to stand still.
And trembling, gasping for a calm center,
I gather in the flying limbs of my frenzy,
Even as I thrash against this amber capture.
Sometimes You ask me to hold tight.
With faint belief in my own courage,
I wrap my limbs in fixed contractures
Even as I turn my head to hide the weeping.
Sometimes You ask me to move on.
Against my pleading, my shout for clock’s unturning,
You birth me again and again,
Your guiding hand forever steady.
Sometimes You ask me to let go.
Slowly, persistently, I relax my option,
And discover a spectrum of choices
Contained in Your next chapter.

That was the final push I needed. I slept fitfully that night, and called my Rabbi the following evening to tell him how profoundly these passages affected me, and to ask him if he read them for any specific reason. “No,” he said, “I just made them a part of the service without specific reason, but now I think I know why.

Call it fate, call it faith, call it coincidence, call it whatever you want. The reading of those passages by my Rabbi that night changed the trajectory of my life. I was able to muster up the courage to leave the job that was making me miserable and venture into the next part of my life, which stopped the tears from flowing and made me a much happier person.

Whenever I come to a crossroads in my life, I think of that Friday night. I can hear the Rabbi’s voice in my head (pretty cool, since we have had two new Rabbis since then!), and it calms me. These passages give me strength and remind me that sometimes, making a leap into the unknown is the absolute best thing we can do.

What about you? Does major change scare you or invigorate you? Have you ever had a “coincidental” moment like this that drives you to make change?


  • Liz

    Call it weird, but I was watching a Christian minister last night (what, nothing else was on?) and, although a different circumstance, received a similar message. I believe that we hear, what we need, when we need to hear. Made a mental note to write up a blog post about it. Seems like we’re on a similar wave length. Wait. Where you going?

    • Melisa

      I LOVE being on the same wave length as my Liz! 🙂
      Don’t let me stop you: I’d love to read your take on it.
      (and I hear that the “9 Bra Blowout” infomercial is amazing, if you can’t find anything else to watch…)

  • Wineplz

    Great post! And so true! I’ve been in similar situations where I’m literally crying & in agony because I’m so frozen by the “What Ifs” of a possible big change (especially after having kids), and each time it seemed the answer jumped out at me just by going to church and having some quiet time with G-d. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    I want to say I’m one of those people who embrace change – God knows I’ve gone through enough in my life and come through with flying colors! But its the big steps (which you know I’ve had many of recently) that scare the Bejeezus out of me. Last week I had coffee in the breakroom at work with a friend and literally sat with her in tears, unsure of where my life is going. Then, last Wednesday night, I had dinner with an old friend, and she looked at me and said:

    “You’re upset because you want your life to change on YOUR TIME. Sometimes you have to just suck it up and realize things happen in GOD’S TIME, not yours.”

    Again, as you said, “those of us who have faith–no matter what the religion–only need to listen a little harder sometimes in order to hear what we need to hear”. Her words hit home with me, and it was only then I realized how many times that week I’d heard almost the same thing from so many people who love me.

    I had a great weekend with my kids, my friends and my family. Last night, I was struck again by this “OHMYGODWHATAMIDOINGWITHMYLIFE?!?” feeling, and I said a prayer and decided I was going to leave it up to God.

    This morning? On my way to work? In front of me was a car with the plates:


    I’m in a good place, I know I am. And I know even better things are coming for me…I just have to be patient with the fact that I’m just not there…yet.

    • Melisa

      Funny that you left a comment right after Little Colleen!

      I love your comment so much. And I love that you noticed that license plate this morning. Letting go of angst over things I can’t always control is something I’m constantly working on. And I agree with you: you have tons of goodness on its way to you. 🙂

  • Ally Bean

    This is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. I’ve always been told that “when the student is ready the teacher will come.” I think this story is a perfect example of that concept.

  • megryansmom

    Thank you for the inspiring post. I left Egypt once, I think I got as far as Jerusalem. But when I tried to leave Jerusalem I was stopped by a higher power. (true Story) I think I have to stick it out here for a little longer 😉

  • Dwana

    Loved this, especially since I am in such a challenging spot, I am still stuck in Egypt right now… I am so wishing someone would put me in a basket and send me down the Nile … i know that technically thats the beginning of the story but so apropos, thanks for this, its got me thinking 🙂

  • Mom24

    Good for you! I have a friend who calls things like this “God winks”. I love that term, it fits completely. I’m glad you were able to make changes that have impacted your life so profoundly.

    I’m praying, and trying, but I find myself crying almost daily about my work situation and I really see no answers in sight.

    • Melisa

      That IS a great term!
      I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time right now. I’m certain that a solution will eventually present itself. Hang in there!

  • CJ

    Funny how the smallest moments can turn your life around on a dime!

    First, I left one job for another when I wasn’t even looking, after a fluke conversation over a hot dog at a graduation picnic that I otherwise couldn’t attend but my friend begged that I drop-in for just a few minutes. 2 weeks later, I moved from south burbs, to far north burbs, worked even further north in a position I was terrified I didn’t have the talent/skill for, and new apartment and new roommate from the classifieds to boot! I threw up every day during those 2 weeks!

    THEN, because once isn’t enough. After 7 years that job had degraded into the cry every night, what am I doing, etc….I had begun volunteering with people in need – Habitat & soup kitchens – to feed my soul. I had a moment of total clarity while getting ready one morning before soup kitchen…I had gotten to know some of the beneficiaries if you will of these services and amazed by their outlook on life despite their worst case scenario circumstances. I realized it was time to step away from my job and change career direction totally in order to move forward. I wrote my resignation that night and waited 2 weeks to sleep on it…make sure my judgment wasn’t clouded by the stress. I felt so free it was amazing – scarey as all heck but amazing!

    I learned that sometimes in order to help yourself, you have to help others – One of two things will happen, it will reset your perspective/outlook because you’re getting stressed over the small stuff. Or, you’ll realize if they can face their challenges, then you can take a leap of faith in a new direction and are strong enough to face those risks/challenges too.

    • Melisa

      Great comment, CJ, and what a journey you’ve had! It’s hard not to think about the small stuff (especially if you’re a detail-oriented person) because that’s how so many of us were raised: to consider every little thing/consequence before making a move. It can make all the difference to think about the big picture instead!

    • Melisa

      My pleasure! And what were you doing up so late, young lady? 🙂 Hope you went right to sleep after commenting!

  • DaddysFishBowl

    Wow, great post! I loved it. Glad things worked out for you back then and you got the inspiration that you needed to make valuable changes in your life.

    I am totally terrified by change, I like things as they are, even if they aren’t the best, at least I know what I’m facing. With change, things could get better, but they could also get worse and that scares me. I’m working on it though. The move to MN, was a big step.

    • Melisa

      I know where you’re coming from! Moves to other cities have always shaken me to my core, even though I know I always do fine once I get there. I think it’s fear of the unknown or something. 🙂 I bet you were just fine, too!

  • Flawless Mom

    Sitting in G’s room on the rocking chair in the dark, crying. I hope my sniffling hasn’t kept him up. That was so moving, Melisa. Wow. I’m copying that Egypt passage and putting it up somewhere I can see it. Thanks for this post.

    • Melisa

      Aww! I’m so glad we got to text last night! I hope you do put that passage on your refrigerator or something. You need to get out of Egypt for sure. 🙂 xo

  • Paula @ Frosted Fingers

    Sounds to me like God was talking to you for sure. Glad you went to service that night and got the answers you needed. You are a very social person and that totally didn’t sound like the right place for you.
    I’m usually a pretty easy going and adaptable person when it comes to change. I’m still waiting for certain things in my life to catch up with me because I didn’t grieve “properly” when they happened. I just sucked it up and moved on.

  • Heather

    This is such an awesome post. I am a firm believer in fate, and that things happen for a reason. Sometimes I wonder if God listens to me or if I’m just speaking outloud to no one, but then just when I think I can’t do it or I’m wanting to give up, He speaks. It’s pretty cool.