It doesn’t matter how you found yourself in the situation, whether you were laid off, fired, or if you walked out on your own accord, being unemployed (when you’d rather be otherwise) really sucks!
The pressure to maintain a roof over your head, light by which to see, and food on the table can seem overwhelming. Not to mention the hit to your pride and self-confidence by possibly feeling undervalued or overlooked. And the longer it takes to find a job, the worse this feeling can get!
This is the place I found myself in in early 2015, when the bank I worked for was acquired and the position that I had worked very hard to obtain no longer existed. Even with that, I was absolutely convinced that, based on my credentials and experience alone, I would have no problem slipping right into another fantastic role.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. I’m not sure how many different positions I had applied for that year, but it was more than a few. I applied for jobs that I was over, under and both perfectly and uniquely qualified for. I had so many versions of my resume that I could have published a book! The kicker? Not a single one called me back. Not one interview in the almost-two years that I was out of work!
It seemed to me that my resume was arriving blank to each location, and that it hadn’t been seen at all. Looking back now, I wonder if maybe God hadn’t intervened, wiping the pages blank so that His greater purpose could be accomplished.
And because of this, I unknowingly began the arduous journey to finding JOY in the midst of undesired circumstances.
How in the world do you find joy when life is so stressful and unpredictable?
Step 1 – Seek Him
When I had first found myself without work and with an excess of free time, I started reading through What Happens When Women Say Yes To God (Affiliate Link) by Lysa Terkeurst. It was through this, smack dab in the middle of my unemployment that, while my little ones were napping, He brought me to my knees in the middle of my living room in repentance before Him. This was the beginning of a still on-going heart change for me (and a life directional change for our family). Without this pivotal moment, my path to finding true joy could not have happened.
He is Waiting for You..
Amazing things happen when we seek the One who is full of grace and mercy. God desires to dwell in community with His people. He is waiting for you to open your heart to Him and to all that He has planned for you.
When we choose to actively seek Him, He has promised to respond.
The God of all eternity desires to have an intimate, everyday relationship with YOU! But He is a gentleman and will not force Himself into your life. You must make the decision to take that first step yourself.
Take your time and search your own heart. Dig deep, and determine what it is that you are truly looking for. What are your struggles, hurts and insecurities? Then ask. Ask for guidance and help, ask for humility and vulnerability, and ask for forgiveness.
Invite Jesus in. He’s waiting for you!
Step 2 – Surrender to His Plan
I cried more that first year of unemployment than most years of my life put together. My ego had taken such a blow, and I just couldn’t understand what was wrong. I had been so sure that I would be greatly desired. What I didn’t know is that God had such amazing things planned for my heart during this time.
Little by little He began to strip away all that I had believed made me the fabulous person that I was. You see, I grew up in my career. I started in banking at twenty and for the next fourteen years I allowed my position as a female in a predominately male lead industry to shape who I was as an adult. My absolute top priority was to climb and to prove myself worthy of success and respect.
Since I had my career first before my husband and children came along, that’s how my priorities had been laid as well. Arguments with my husband were mostly spawned by my fear of being controlled or demeaned (disclaimer: this was, by no means, because of the way he actually treated me lol). I was more than happy to work late or at home, because I saw that as a way to prove my work ethic and devotion to the company. My family had taken a backseat in the race-car of my life.
When all of this had been taken from me, I struggled with who I was. I had “opinions” about stay-at-home moms, and I knew that I did not want to be that! I was frustrated with the feeling of not having value or purpose, and because of that I felt thrown aside and unwanted.
But God sent me a song by Nichole Nordeman called, “The Unmaking“. It touched my heart and encouraged me in a way that I needed at that time. What God was doing in my life was purposeful.
What happens now?
When all I’ve made is torn down
What happens next?
When all of you is all that’s left
This is the unmaking
Beauty and the breaking
Had to lose myself to find out who you are
With this in mind, I had nothing left to do but to surrender. To His purpose. To His plan.
Using my unemployment, my Father had to strip off all that I had become, so that He could rebuild me in His image. He tore away layer after layer of filth, and it wasn’t pleasant (or easy to let go of). Once I had been broken down to the bare version of myself, my merciful Father began to build me back up. But the new layers were beautiful, soft and warm. I was no longer cold and driven by greed for success and acknowledgement.
When we wake up and realize that our own plans are almost never healthy, and are almost always self-serving, we realize our need to surrender to His plans and His will. When we do that, when we truly let go (and let God hehe), He begins a good work in us. And when that happens, we are blessed and will always reap the benefits.
Step 3 – Notice the Blessings
Once I stopped fighting this time of renewal and began to accept this new person God was forming me into, I found new appreciations for the small things around me. My focus was redirected off of what I didn’t have (a job) and onto those that I did.
Gift of Time
I realized that, in unemployment, He had given me the incredible gift of time. Time to spend with my children in their early years. My daughter had started school the second year I was home and I was blessed to be able to drop her off and pick her up personally each day, as well as the added alone time with my son who was just over a year old.
Time also to spend with Him. I had nowhere to rush off to, and so I spent over an hour in the Word at my kitchen counter each morning, learning and growing. This forced time off gave me a padded, safe period of time for intimately reacquainting myself with my Savior.
I also found that I had been given the unrestricted time to make and build glorious friendships with the most beautiful, godly women. These women have been an example to me through all aspects of my life. They have shown me so much grace for my previous anti-stay-at-home mom and anti-homeschool opinions, and for my slow growth in the Lord. Somehow, they are still here (by God’s grace alone!).
Gift of Service
God even gave me something to do with my skill and the free time that unemployment brought! Our church was only a year old at the time and was in desperate need of a bookkeeper to create and keep the books. By volunteering, I was able to both serve my church and give myself purpose throughout my week.
Gift of Growth
Through it all, as I began to grow and change, our marriage and family dynamic began to grow and change as well. We began to notice that with my being home, things began to click into place. We no longer argued about who was going to do what, or who had the more important career. Because I was home taking care of the kids and household responsibilities, my husband was less stressed (which made everyone happier).
I finally had to admit that there was something to this whole stay-at-home thing. And by the time I received a call (out of the blue) offering me the perfect position with past co-workers and friends that I love, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to take it. (I did by the way, but that’s a story for another time!)
Whatever is going on in your life through this stage of unemployment, please know that you have a Father in Heaven who wants to use it for your good.
Seek Him, submit to Him, and notice the blessings He has for you.