“Forgive as the Lord forgave you”

(Colossians [3:13])


In a counseling session, my client was very angry. Angry that no one would hire him because of his age. He was mad and confused. He still felt very young and was a top sales person in his previous career. He had stayed fit, ate well and read often. He couldn’t reconcile the bias against him versus who he was. He was mad and it was starting to surround his being.

I asked him to tell me why he was mad and was it helping. What had he been telling himself in the quiet moments by himself? He replied, “It is so unfair, I can help and just want to be productive.” He was right it was unfair and not only that it was illegal. I knew this wasn’t what he was mad about. What he was mad about was something very different. It was the reality that he had grown older. It was about the loss that comes with age. It was a the loss of being able to provide for himself and his family. He was grieving all these losses.

But he had told himself  something different. He had told himself it was unfair and employers were wrong. This truth he told himself soothed him and allowed him to cope. It allowed him to justify his anger, but his truth wouldn’t help. He still wanted to work and remain productive. Dealing with the reality of being older was his task, not his anger. To move forward required two critical steps. First to accept where he was in life and most importantly forgive those who denied him.

Being truthful with the situation would help him create a plan. Forgiving others would allow him to move beyond his anger. He knew he was a good salesman, but life had caught him by surprise. He had aged in a society where aging is considered a disability. In truth aging isn’t a disability, it is an asset. He had to learn how to use this asset to move forward. He had seen a lot in his life that helped him be a good salesperson. He knew how to help customers and provide what they needed. He didn’t waste time trying to sell something his customers didn’t want or need. He knew the key to be a great salesperson was solving the customers problem. He learned all this as he aged. This was his truth, not his anger.

This meant he had to change his approach. He wasn’t old, he was experienced. He had a great reputation. He was known to be positive, trustworthy and competent. This was his truth not that he was old. In his frustration he had forgotten all of this and told himself something different. In doing this he had not relied on those whom he had helped in the past. His network was his answer, not filling out applications and waiting for rejection. He was still wanted, just not by an intangible community that viewed age as a liability. So he turned to his network for help.

Soon after, an up and coming company in his industry called and asked him in for an interview. They told him that his name kept coming up when they were trying to find the right person for their opening. His past and age had come back to help him. They asked him to come to work for them. Why, not because he was old, but he was the right person for the job. His reputation had trumped his age. His network spoke for him.

Sure there are those that will hold us back because of some intangible reason that doesn’t make sense. Sure we will be wronged. But what is our response. To be careful in what we tell ourselves and not become defined but what others from faraway say.  But defined by ourselves and friends. We should also remember, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Lina Trochez