It was a punch to the stomach. I sat there in silence, staring at the floor. My Boss told me he was letting me go. I was terminated without cause.
Six months earlier I had received a significant pay raise and an outstanding performance review. I was on the Senior Management team and I had worked under three different presidents. All things considered; my career was going well. Suddenly, it was all over.
Let’s face it, a job loss never feels good. I still remember those hurt feelings nine years later.
While losing your job is something that you can’t always prepare for, this experience taught me a few things. Similar to a final exam, you should be prepared to be tested in the following areas:
Your ability to adapt
A job provides us with structure and daily routine. You’ve lost that. Given that you’ve started looking for that next job, how will you spend the rest of your free time? Will you take on new responsibilities (eg. household chores)? Will you change your spending habits? Will you take better care of your body by exercising and eating healthy on a regular basis? Will you spend time in prayer and the Word of God? Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone.
The number one issue that causes fights amongst married couples is money. The loss of income can be devastating on a household. You and your spouse may not agree on finance decisions, potentially leading to heated arguments. Words can get harsh. Don’t let your anger turn into bitterness. We are not perfect. We sin. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Be gracious in your words. Hold each other tight. Forgive each other. Pray together. Laugh together! Remember, your marriage is God ordained. God delights in our marriages.
A job loss can bring shame, particularly if you’re a man. You may feel demoralized. You’ve lost a part of your identity. What about your character? Will you give into self-pity? Allow others to help you? Will you be patient with your family? Or will you strive to be sober-minded, self-controlled and manage your household well? [1 Timothy 3:2-5] True character shows when things get tough. Lean into the character traits that God has set for you.
Your service to others
Initially, there was a lot for me to process, “What just happened? How will I provide? What will people think of me?” The only thing that mattered was what happened to me. This type of thinking can become self–focused and all consuming. I felt shame, fear and anxiety. But If you allow those thoughts to control you, you lose the bigger picture of your life. Take a step back. Believe it or not, this is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Sure, take time to care for yourself, but don’t stop loving, serving and praying for others. Sharing the gospel doesn’t stop. Self-isolation does not need to be a barrier. Be available. Be proactive.
Your trust in God
Our kids were little when I lost my job. During our bedtime prayers, they would ask God to provide me with a job. I told them, a job is something I want, but what I really wanted was to be steadfast and honor God. My actions were not always perfect, but I wanted to show them that it was okay not to have things that we desire most. It was okay to continue and encourage others when I felt discouraged. It was okay to remain patient and at peace when my job applications got rejected. It was okay to not be resentful when my circumstances didn’t seem fair to me.
My unemployment lasted for 14 months. This current season will be difficult for many of us. We don’t know when it will pass. Let me invite you to rest today in our perfect Father. To allow Him to speak truth into your life. Let us, even in our unemployment, give glory to God in this time.