Since September 2001, the number of unemployment applications in the United States alone has skyrocketed from 5% to 11%. Many argue (I am one of them) that the correct number of the unemployed is significantly higher, enough to even compete with the same statistics in Spain or Greece.
With not many choices for the jobless workers, many have thrown in the towel after the initial unemployment ran out and they went on welfare (no fault there, by the way) leaving an ugly aftermath of empty factories, ghost towns, and homeless families. Others went to school for training in a new field (good for you!). Yet a small portion opted to become the next generation of entrepreneurs, only to have their new businesses crushed within a year by permits, taxes, and the new upcoming healthcare regulations.
Most have reported the job search as nightmarish, impossibly prejudiced, degrading and/or discouraging. I feel it’s been a roller coaster of uncertainty and miracles around every corner, after the initial kick in the teeth.
In 2010, the long uncertainty was over and I was one of the ‘chosen’ as well. I was not literally put on a catapult and flung out of the window. But I was clearly no longer needed in my job, along with 120 other people. (That was just one of many waves of layoffs in that particular company, too.) My boss helped carry out my mini fridge and boxes as I was excused from the office building. Surprising him, I cheerfully said my thanks and left that job for the last time, not looking back. A few other angrier colleagues were escorted to their vehicles by armed security personnel.
Once at home, I changed into shorts and tee shirt and sat on my porch with a cold glass of lemonade. I looked around my quiet tree-lined neighborhood and thought – FREE AT LAST! No tears, no anger. A little numb, maybe, but definitely relieved. I can enjoy life again as the Lord intended.
Honestly, for a while I did wonder WHY I was put there for so long. I never liked being an Administrative Assistant, but fell into it out of necessity. For two decades I had tried to get back to school or at least change positions but because I’m a single divorced mom, it was not easy to find the time or extra money to go back to college for what I was good at and enjoyed. Every door of job opportunity I applied for at that same company for over the last two years were respectively shut in my face because I did not have a degree and no one wanted to give an Administrative Assistant a chance to learn something new. I felt so stuck and in a brain-draining rut for a long time. It seemed this layoff was the last kick in the butt from them, and it was the one I needed.
Instead of worrying and crying over an ambiguous future, I had prepared for this crisis a little too – just in case. Thankfully, the company told us before Christmas that a reduction in force would surely be implemented in April, so I budgeted a little more carefully to put more rainy day money aside. Then I blew the dust off my contacts list for potential networking, revived my creative resume, and enrolled in some classes. With daily prayer, I became excited for changes and determined to move forward with my plans even if I did not get laid off. Working part-time seemed very appealing, allowing me to be home more often with my daughter, have dinner ready at a decent hour, time to walk through the park, write, join a ministry, bake, etc. The mere threat of being laid off stoked the coals under my feet. I was ready for new blessings.
This was not the first time I have been laid off but it was the first time I felt good about it. Is it an age and maturity issue, enabling me to handle a crisis better now, having been through it before? Maybe even a pinch of mid-life crisis mixed in, and a big wallop of creative urges that just can’t wait any longer? No, most of it is my steadfast faith in a Loving and Knowing Savior, Jesus, and His plan for my life. It’s truly all good. God saw my frustrations and pain at work, and He answered my prayers, but not in the way I expected.
Yes, I may have been given the boot from an office job that was steady in pay and benefits, but at the same time I had been catapulted into new territory, flying high, free and fast into the unknown. One thing was certain – the Lord would catch me first and set me on the right path. I had so much to express to the world for the Lord. That company did not want my skills, but someone else will. For now, I’ll use them and this time off to breathe life back into ministry and some sleepy dreams.
So, WHAT did I gain after all this?
After three years of this internment, I had attended and paid for four enriching classes, wrote and submitted other stories, lost weight, created a baking and editing business, launched two websites, published a few articles, and wrote 2 more novels – the things I previously never had time to do. AND the biggest blessing was watching my daughter climb to the top of her class and earn a few scholarships to the college of her choosing. The Lord also blessed with reduced medical insurance and a couple paid necessary surgeries through the famous 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, subsequent temporary jobs when needed, and other financial gifts and blessings so that all our living expenses continued to be paid without one dime of welfare or food stamps. Plus, we did not have to move to another place either – yet.
All of it is nothing short of miraculous! God clearly gave me the sabbatical I needed, taught me absolute trust in Him, and He continues to provide everything. No monetary funds could top the value of an eternal relationship with the Lord!!