When Life is a Shotgun

Mar 9, 2016Find joy today

We’ve been walking on the road of joblessness for a month now. The call came suddenly, completely left field.

And we’re wondering what it all means. My husband has been the breadwinner all these years, married to a writer who can’t always make a living with words. In that way, he’s been my patron of the arts.

And now I’m his patron, picking up jobs like flu bugs, and working to pay our bills. I’m grateful, so grateful at our community who have beautifully stepped in to stand in the gap, pray, and ask about our needs. I’m grateful that Patrick, who has been working steadily all these years, has some mind space to think through what’s next as he applies for new positions.

And, oddly, I actually like austerity.

I like going to Aldi and seeing just how little I can spend on groceries. I like selling books at Half Priced Books so I can buy some onion bulbs for the garden. I like discovering potatoes that overwintered, like surprise parties from the ground. I like creating unique outfits out of what I already have.

But here’s what I don’t like: not knowing.

I wish I could say I had the faith of a mustard seed, but I fear my faith is tinier still. I’d like to, instead, have God map out what He has for us, cleanly and neatly, so we can boldly walk into the next stage of life. Except that He’s not obliging my “need” to know. Patrick is sending out feelers like a shotgun–here, there, this locale, that locale, that business, that ministry. Bullets of hope are flying hither and yon, never seeming to reach a target.

So I continue to Aldi, grateful for the $10 coupon, grateful for all those years we were single income, and I learned thrift.

[Tweet “What a husband’s joblessness and life’s uncertainty has taught @MaryDeMuth.”]

Because I am grateful, even in the not knowing. Because it stretches my faith. (Oops, and it shows how it wanes, too). It makes me trust when I can’t see. It causes me to stop and pray and ask and listen. It makes me dependent. It reveals my weakness in such a way that I deeply need God.

I don’t know where we will be in one month or five or next year. I don’t hold the future. I simply try to hold on for the ride, wandering in circles sometimes, exasperated at others, sometimes still and peaceful. And I pray God would meet me in a brand new way in this unsettled, shotgun place.

How about you? Have you ever been in an unsettled, unknowing place? How did you learn to trust God?


  1. Gina Paris

    I am on ssi.. which is pretty much near poverty level.. and they keep reducing my income. just had my latest review yesterday. so instead of being afraid about it, i am expecting another reduction.. but also knowing that God is going to take care of me. I am an artist so the money i get from that is near nothing but I keep working towards my goal of being off ssi even though my income is $0 without it.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Praying for provision, Gina.

  2. D'anah C Wallace

    Yup. We been “jobless” for over a year now. No paid work, either of us. God has provided miraculously. Now, we have been told to vacate house been renting by end of March. So, we are packing. As little savings left, and no direction, yet, from God. We putting our stuff in storage, trusting He will provide, lead, do it all in time!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Oh my. Jesus, please provide, direct, and bring a surprise.

      • D'anah C Wallace

        Thanks. It’s just every minute choosing to trust and believe Ha knows, He cares, and He will….whatever His will is. X

  3. Sam Hall

    Yes, the not knowing. And going to the mall–where the only other men walking around were retirees … or other guys outta work, who aren’t bringing home a paycheck. The feeling of not being able to provide for your family really gets to a man.
    Another thing that people should be sensitive about: Don’t make the very first question you ask a guy (I don’t know how women feel about this.) to be, “Where do you work?” If the man is unemployed, how can he answer? –I’m between jobs. –I’m looking for a job, etc. The questioner forces him to acknowledge the thing that’s eating at him every moment of his waking hours … VERY insensitive … And after you say, “I’m unemployed/I’m looking, etc.” then what?
    Truly, that question about work is used by so many in our culture as a quick way to categorize, to peg where he might be on the social ladder or as a potential client or member of their group–really to determine if the respondent is worth their time to talk to. The instant “Where do you work?” is for the questioner’s benefit, not to get to know the man.
    Consider: a new couple comes to your church, looking for encouragement perhaps, or something uplifting. He’s unemployed. If the first question out of the box is “Where do you work and what do you do?”–the visitor simply wants to leave. There’s no empathy in a question like that. Even when the visiting couple are fully employed, it’s a bad question b/c it sends the message: Are you potentially big contributors? If so, we want you.
    Okay, off my soapbox. Thanks for listening.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well said, and important words. It’s so ingrained in our culture, though. It would be hard to change all that! But one by one we can.

    • D'anah C Wallace

      Not just for guys! Everyone is not what job they do!!

      • Sam Hall

        Thanks D’anah. The problem with us guys is that we do have our identity tied up in what we do. We don’t have a job, we don’t have an identity …
        But what you said is best–our job is not our identity.

        • D'anah C Wallace

          Understand! God bless

  4. Susan G.

    When all we have is God, He is enough. If we know God’s faithfulness, deep down in our hearts we know He will take care of us. We don’t always know what that will look like, but He is faithful. I, like you Mary, want to know how it will work out…but that is not how our God helps us to learn how to trust Him.
    Praying you will settle into His goodness for you and your family, and a great job for Patrick!

  5. kathy Sturgis

    Praying God will bring His climax to you soon.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Thank you.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Thank you Jim!

  6. Sarah

    Thank you for sharing so openly, I really needed to stop and think about my life in the way you have, evaluating, finding the positives. I go to court tomorrow to see if there’s a way to avoid foreclosure. My kids will be living 2000 miles away with their dad come fall. I’m looking for a job. Everything I thought my life would be is crumbling, and I don’t know what comes next. Like you said, the not knowing is what keeps me awake at night.
    But God is good, all the time.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m so sorry you’re walking through this bewildering time, Sarah.

  7. Sundi Jo Graham

    Thanks for your vulnerability. I feel closer than ever to the call to step out into full-time ministry, versus having another job on the side, and the unknowns are countless. But I know I have to step out of the boat and trust.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Oh that pesky boat! It’s so comfortable.