5 things joblessness taught me

Jun 8, 2016Find joy today

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?


  1. Michael Winskie

    We’ve been through that and we can say for sure that God is faithful. I work as what they call a vendor. I deliver ice cream and pizza to grocery stores, etc. for a living. There are many types of vendors: bread, crackers/chips, milk, sodas, etc. In most states it requires at least a class B CDL license. But, I said all that to say this. He won’t get rich, but if he is interested in this, it will (in most cases) almost guarantee that he can find a job. It took me two months to find a job last year when Blue Bell Ice Cream laid us all off. It could’ve been worse. God does provide!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Thank you! I’ll let him know.

  2. Dottie

    Your husband’s job loss hit me hard like a gut punch. Completely sudden. No severence. I’ve been empathizing with you and praying for you. Then a month ago I got laid off – I’ve been the primary breadwinner in our marriage.. There’s severence, and I’m grateful for that. It’s hard going through job loss . You speak wisdom and truth though. . God is our Provider and there’s peace in Him. It’s still scary sometimes but His peace and presence calms the storms. God bless you and your husband.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m so sorry you lost you job, Dottie! That is so stressful. I pray you’ll find a new one soon. We’re still without one, but as you said, God has provided in other ways.

  3. Diana


    I “found” you through the Work by Design Summit with Claire Diaz Ortiz. One of your emails that hit my inbox the other day, the ‘Oh My! Almost there! Woot!’ email, to be precise included a prayer.

    The prayer said: Jesus, thank you for Diana. I am
    grateful You love us all, in surprising new ways. Oh how we need to know
    that You are near, that You see, that You are concerned with every
    detail of our lives. Thank You Jesus for being our very best friend.
    Help us to heal from the words and wounds of others today. Amen.

    Mary, this prayer made my cry. My family and I are almost at the end of our rope financially. I’ve been without a job since last August. The “nos” to seemingly perfect job opportunities pile up, TWO just yesterday, and every day I find myself walking this tightrope between trusting God and questioning God. Paying off school bills, medical bills for a surgery last year that didn’t heal the problem…everyday when I check the mail I say to myself “No bills, no bills, no bills.” I have enough for today. God has provided for us so far and I know he will continue.

    I just wanted to tell you that your prayer for me brought me such comfort. Today, I was searching your website to find someway to communicate this to you when I came across this post. Thank you for encouraging me (again) and for your honesty and truthful words. Pay day is tomorrow, thank you Lord.


    • Mary DeMuth

      Diana, thanks so much for this comment. You made my day! I’m so grateful my prayer helped! And I’m sorry you’ve had to walk through so much. It’s hard. So hard. Jesus, please provide for Diana and her family. Amen.

  4. Andrew Gilmore

    Kudos to you guys for trusting in God through this season. I think it’s so easy for us to define ourselves by our jobs rather than by who created us. (what we do vs. what we are).

    • Mary DeMuth

      So true. And I know it’s a normal struggle. But oh to get it right! Our identity = to be loved.

  5. James Watkins

    Been there. Done that. Bought the Prozac. Praying for you, my friend.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Thank you Jim.