5 things joblessness taught me

joblessness

Well, it’s not my joblessness. It’s my husband’s. We’ve been without his job since January now, and we’re learning so much. (Aside: As a writer, I don’t make enough to cover our expenses, so when he lost his job, it was particularly alarming).

Oddly, and thankfully, I am grateful for this time. It’s helped me to see things in myself I didn’t know, and it’s given me a greater dependence on God. Peace has come, though there are certainly days when the peace flies out the window.

So what have I learned in this journey? Five things.

One. God is the provider.

We err when we think it’s all up to us to provide. While hard work and industry are important, ultimately God is our provider. He can provide through our own jobs, through strange circumstances, through others, through supernatural means. In these past few months, we’ve experienced this in surprising ways. Unexpected checks. The kindness of strangers. Friends in our life group at church who have continued to pray and support us. New jobs for me that I didn’t anticipate or chase. When you face financial stress, it’s so lovely to know that God sees, and He will provide. It may not be the way you envision His provision to look like, but it comes–sometimes in surprising packages.

Two. We don’t need much.

Cue my happy song singing an ode to the grocery story Aldi where we have been buying most of our groceries. Hooray for low prices! Although my children and husband would have called me frugal before, it’s even more true today. We pared down our budget to the essentials. No extra stuff. Very few times out (and then with a coupon). Changing service providers. Trying to heal without medical intervention. Instead of throwing money at things, we’re throwing logic and time and prayer. And truly, we haven’t suffered. As Americans, we’re excessively rich in comparison to our friends in the majority world. So this whole adventure has helped me think more of them.

Three. Who you are is more relevant than where you find yourself.

We’ve been grappling with direction. Where does God want us? What does He want us to do? Ministry? Move? Overseas? Remain? I’m nearly desperate for an answer, but the answer is not coming quickly (for my taste). So I’m hoping and praying that in the midst of this trial I remain faithful to Jesus. I want my children to see me trusting Him, running away from panic. I’m sure I’ve failed a lot, but the underlying determination is there. I’m also fighting to stay truly generous during this time.

Four. Humbleness = great gain.

It’s not easy being dependent. To always be the couple who is financially struggling. To say no so many times. But we are finding what true joy is. It’s to engage with others, bear their burdens, and find empathy for others who are suffering. I’m so grateful that now I have so much more compassion for anyone who has lost a job. My heart practically leaps out of my chest for anyone else facing it. So I’m grateful for this humble time. We may not be able to financially give like we’d want to (and oh how sad I was to have to pull back), but we can give of ourselves. We can pray, listen, and intervene. We can be grateful to those who have also helped us, thanking them and Jesus.

Five. Subtraction can be a hidden blessing.

As you know, my word for the year has been that lovely 11-letter gem, subtraction. It spilled over into Patrick’s job, and it affected mine as well. But God has taken away things for a reason. Although excruciating, He’s allowed some relationships to end, which has left room for new relationships. He’s taken away financial stability and replaced that with a deeper dependence on Him. I have a feeling I’ll understand subtraction a few years from now, when I look back on this year as pivotal. I’m just beginning to see the why. (Although, full disclosure: sometimes I’m whiny and I ask why a LOT.)

What about you? What lessons have you learned this year? What has God been teaching you?