Nancy, I need to tell you something”.
His voice cracked in a way I had heard two times before and instantly my heart began to pound. I knew from the look in his eyes — the disappointment and sadness — that either someone had died or my husband had lost his job. Thankfully, all of our loved ones were still with us. Unfortunately, he was indeed losing his job. To both of our surprise, my husband’s company was suddenly being shut down by its parent company with no warning at all. Having being through this before, I knew asking why wouldn’t make a difference nor would falling apart. Together, we held each other as we both wept some tears. Though we were finally at a time where we had a financial reserve to fall back on, we were both painfully aware how quickly that would dry up when funds weren’t flowing in. Quietly, we walked to the bedroom and behind closed doors discussed how we would move forward. Determined to be authentic with our feelings – yet steadfast in our faith – we ended on bended knees before the Lord asking him to give us the grace to walk through another season of unknowns trusting him.
Thankfully, today, our third journey through unemployment came to an end. Just like the two times before, it was challenging in so many ways and for so many reasons. Humbled by the journey, and utterly thankful for God’s faithfulness, I felt compelled to share 4 things I’ve learned through these difficult jobless seasons we’ve walked through during our marriage. Since I’ve only walked through this from a wife’s perspective, I’m going to write this blog that point of view. Of course, I understand similar dynamics can and will happen if the roles are reversed! So…here we go…
4 Life Changing Lessons I’ve Learned Through My Husband’s Job Losses
- Don’t heap the burden on your children. Children’s innocence is beautiful and should be guarded. A job loss, and the stress it creates, can rob them of their innocence and create a depth of fear that isn’t easily healed. Tender and limited information sharing guards children from carrying burdens that are too heavy for them to bear. Teenagers can obviously handle more, but they should still be guarded. Reassurance, a climate of hope and confidence in a bright future is essential. Don’t let your kids get lost in the midst of the stress. Every opportunity you have to celebrate their accomplishment do so. Let them live with the assurance that they are more important that the current, temporary situation. Stay steady, remain hopeful and don’t over share.
- Learn to ride to coaster well. A job search is a roller coaster filled with many emotional highs and lows. Promising leads can turn into interviews and those interviews can turn into crushing disappointments if the job is given to someone else. Riding the coaster well means never holding onto a lead or interview too tightly. A lead is just a lead. An interview is just an interview. Phillip and I learned if we vested our hope in leads and interviews, we were vesting in the wrong place and setting ourselves up for disappointment. Hope must instead be rooted in the Lord and hearts must be submitted to His plans. When you hold leads and interviews loosely, and instead hold tightly to Him, the ups and downs that come (and yes they do indeed come) you can figuratively let go, put your hand in the air and enjoy the ride of the peace that surpasses all understanding.
- Lift shame — don’t heap it on. Job loss inherently comes with the feeling of shame. Even when the job loss isn’t the persons fault, shame can creep in and will weigh heavily on them. I know this true because I’ve watched my incredible husband go through three job losses – all of which weren’t his fault – and the heaviness and shame of not having a job came quickly and without warning each time. When it landed, it was as if I could see him aging in front of me as his posture dropped, eyes diverted downward, voice quieted and confidence slipped away. I have learned a very important truth that all wives need to hear and understand. As Phillip’s wife, I had the power and influence to either lift that shame from him or heap it on him. Sadly, during Phillip’s first job loss, I chose wrong and heaped unspeakable shame on my husband and deeply hurt him. I did this by not trusting him, by giving up and by questioning his every move. After Phillip was employed again, we had a lot of healing to do because of my wrong choices and the deep hurt they caused. Thankfully, through that healing process, I learned a great deal about myself, my insecurities and my own deep character flaws. The lessons I learned allowed me, during his second and third job losses, to choose to be his greatest shame buster. How? By lovingly trusting him, following his lead and always, always, always expressing my pride in being his wife regardless of his employment status.
- Celebrate God’s Provisions as a family. One of the greatest gifts losing a job brings to a family is the opportunity to celebrate God’s incredible provisions. As I mentioned earlier, guarding your kids from the heavy burdens of a job loss is important. However, thanking the Lord for his help is an incredible opportunity to point your children towards Him. During my husband’s second job loss, my kids were still young enough to really engage with a fun project. The first week he was out of work, I took a large piece of paper and posted it in our family room. Every time there was a provision for our family (big or small) we wrote it on the paper in celebration. The kids enjoyed watching the paper fill up and we often had discussions about how God showed up in unexpected ways. It was a true faith builder for all of us. By the time Phillip’s new job came through, we had three papers filled and to this day we all recall that season when we recorded God’s provisions and celebrated His faithfulness together as a family.
Going through a job loss is not an easy thing. In fact, it’s down right hard. However, now, more and more families are going through times where they are walking through times of joblessness filled with uncertainty just like we have. If you are walking through a time like this, I want you to know how sorry I am. I know it is rough. I know fear and shame are trying to grip you. I know it feels hopeless. I also know, by God’s amazing grace you can get through it…ah yes…by his amazing grace…