Unemployment has impacted the lives of so many beautiful friends that I'm privileged to know or have met along the journey. Today, I want to share with you the heart of my dear friend, Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life. She is simply amazing. After reading about what she's learned from her husband's unemployment, be sure to click over and check out her fantastic blog.
Today I am honored to be sharing here at Unemployed Faith. Thank you, Rosann, for the opportunity to share my heart with your readers.
I am the wife of a man who has been unemployed more often than not over the last 4 years. I wish I could say it hasn't changed me. But it has. I wish I could say that I've always kept the faith. But there were times when I had lost my hope. I wish I could say that I am more prepared for "the next time" should it happen again. But I am still learning to walk this long, and often lonely road.
I don't have any fancy words of faith and inspiration, no bright light to share that's gotten us through this season unscathed. We are different. It's been a long, hard journey. But despite the valley, we know that God is good. We know that He never leaves our side. We know that He will bring us through as we continue to walk forward together, putting our trust in Him. Our situation rocked us to the core, but in Christ we put our hope, for without Him there is no hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
As a woman who has seen her husband in the lowest of lows, yet still find ways to provide for his family, and the energy to play and interact with his children, I wanted to share with you what I am learning from all of this. And we are still walking this road. We have not yet reached our destination.
Nothing in this life is certain.
We had plans. We had dreams. We had a nice home which my carpenter husband almost completely remodeled. Yet, we had to let it go, in order to avoid foreclosure. We had planned to raise our children in that home. We dreamed of watching our grandchildren slide down the long hallway in their stocking feet. But none of that was to be.
I had to come to the realization that we may never again own our own home. I cannot lay claim to, nor hang onto something that was never mine to begin with. Unemployment has a way of waking you up to the reality that nothing in this life is certain. I praise the Lord that He has provided a nice rental home, and enough side job money to help pay the rent. This is not what I had planned. But our lives are in His hands.
A little encouragement goes a long way.
My husband needs my encouragement now more than ever. There is something that is lost in a man when his livelihood, his work, is taken away. When the ability to provide for his family is threatened, it can change a man. I've seen my husband change over the last four years. He's different now. He's still the same man at the core, but this storm has weighed him down. I believe he's aged more in the last two years than I've ever seen. This is what worry, sleepless nights, fear, doubt and a lost identity will do to a man.
I wish I could say I've always been my husband's biggest cheerleader. I wanted to be the the wife who affirmed her husband daily, multiple times a day, but this was not always the case. I have a ways to go in this department, as this season has caused me to turn inward and shed light on the state of my own heart. But I am learning that a little encouragement does make a huge difference.
- "You are amazing"!
- "You are not defined by what you do. I love you for who you are."
- "You are an amazing husband and father. We are blessed because of you."
- "You can do anything you set your mind to."
- "No matter what, know that I love you and we will get through this together."
It's phrases like these that can turn a husband from a lump on the couch in front of the TV, to a man who rises up with with purpose and dignity every day.
It's okay to ask for help.
As unemployment slowly went from day to day, to month to month, to year after year, our already strained finances bottomed out and we had no resources left to pull from. Aside from asking for help from our church (which they have done above and beyond what we ever could ask), we had to find creative ways to provide for our family as we waited for the next check or job.
- I never thought I would be standing outside the local food bank, preparing to receive "free groceries" so I could make meals for my family. But I did.
- I never thought I would visit with a PG&E payment coordinator from a local "resource center" and ask them to pay our $200 PG&E bill. But I did.
- I never thought I would ever apply for Food Stamps. I did. But we didn't qualify. Go figure!
- I never thought I would have to ask for "free lunches" for my children at school. But I did.
- I never thought I would have to sell my gold (which wasn't much) to pay for groceries. But I did.
- I never thought I would receive a "pay day loan" just to make it until the next pay day. Did that too.
- I never thought I would visit with a bankruptcy attorney to "consider our options". We have. And we are still praying about it.
Unemployment does not cater to the one with a heart of pride that refuses to let themselves be helped. It has a way of knocking the "I am self sufficient"wind right out of you!
God doesn't want me to be angry.
I never really had anger issues. But there are days now where I carry so much tension that I get headaches. I can almost feel the anxiety oozing out of me before it leaps from my heart to quench the joy that is buried deep inside.
I tell my friends I am not angry at God. This is the hardest lesson I've learned. Dealing with my own anger.
- Angry that we had to lose our home.
- Angry that my children have to suffer through our lack.
- Angry that my husband and I haven't had a nice vacation in over four years.
- Angry that the local "food bank" doesn't hand out meat. What am I supposed to do with 6 bunches of celery and canned corn?
- Angry that we seem to be getting further and further behind.
So am I angry at God? I would say no. But if I cannot find the strength to rejoice in this season, where does that leave God? Sometimes I think I push Him aside, determined to find my own way. This has truly been a humbling experience.
Every day it's a battle just to surrender it all back into His hands. There is nothing I can do to change our circumstances. He promises to take care of us. He feeds the birds of the air. How much more is His love for us!
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
Throughout this very long season, I am learning the true art of "rejoicing in all things". He has always been faithful. I simply must rest in that truth and focus on what He's already done. This gives me fuel for tomorrow. He desires to pour forth His goodness. So we press on, putting one foot in front of the other, running to the rock Christ Jesus for strength every day!
Barbie is a wife and mother to four children. She works full time while juggling faith, family and ministry. Her heart is to encourage women of all ages in their pursuit of the Lord. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, reading, writing, painting and spending time with family and friends. She is Managing Editor of 5 Minutes for Faith, and blogs at My Freshly Brewed Life