When Donald Trump says it, it can sound kinda funny. When you’re the one on the receiving end, not so much. There’s nothing fun or funny about those two, little words, “You’re fired!” When you hear them, it’s like getting a kick in the gut, having a rug pulled out from underneath you, experiencing a sudden loss in the wind of your sails; when you hear those words, life immediately comes to a complete standstill, and all you can ask is, “Now what?” In fact, when you are the one who gets the news, it’s no fun at all.
I can’t tell you how many times my husband’s been on the receiving end of those two horrible words. And, it just happened…again.
So, what’s a family of six that loses it’s sole source of income to do when it gets that kind of news? Keep on moving forward. How do we do it? I’m glad you asked!
Here are the ways that we keep moving forward through job loss:
- Pray and seek God. It’s easy, when we’re emotionally stressed, to start looking, in all of the wrong places, for answers and solutions to our problems. We’ve learned, the hard way, that clinging to the saying, “God helps those who help themselves” is not the best place to start our recovery efforts. In contrast, the Bible tells us, in James 4:6, that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. So, instead of dusting ourselves off and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, we fall on our faces before a God who knows all things, is in control of all things, and loves us beyond all measure, seeking His will and direction for our lives, acknowledging that we can do nothing apart from Him. This is the first thing we do, now. It puts the breaks on insanity. What is the first place you turn when you get this kind of news?
- Start Living off of an emergency savings fund. In Proverbs, chapter thirty, verse twenty-five, we learn that “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer”. We’ve learned (again, the hard way) that it is critical to have a full emergency fund set aside so that we are prepared to deal with loss of income. One of our favorite money gurus, Dave Ramsey, recommends setting aside three to six months of expenses in a money market savings account as an insurance to pay yourself during times of job loss. Years ago, when we first learned this, we asked ourselves, “What would it take for us to live for three to six months if Matt lost his income?” Then, we began diligently working to create a full emergency fund that answered that question. There were months when we were only able to add $10 to the account, but we persevered, and never gave up. Now that it is fully funded, we have some financial breathing room as we move forward in pursuit of God’s plan for our lives. We are not in panic mode, wondering where our next meal, or house payment will be coming from. That gives us peace as we wait out this storm. Do you have a fully funded emergency fund?
- Only make necessary purchases. We’re used to living on a tight budget, and we know where every dollar gets spent. But, in times like this we must be even more prudent. That means not much eating out, no special “treats” from the grocery store, no new clothes, etc. If it’s not absolutely necessary, it stays at the store (or internet site). This is the toughest part of my husband’s unemployment, and it can become a real downer, if we let it. There’s a whole lot that we have to say “no” to, and not a lot of areas where we can say, “yes”. There’s a whole lot of focus on self-control and discipline, and not a lot of freedom to be impulsive or self-indulgent. Yet, it is also a great opportunity to be creative, work together as a family, and grow in our contentment of simple living — and sim-ply living. When the money stops “rolling” in (hehe), we’ve learned to put on our special glasses and really look closely at the difference between “need” and “want” in our lives. Have you ever stopped to look at the difference between the two?
- Enjoy the present time, instead of spending every minute worrying about the future. This ties
into number one. If we truly believe that God is in control of the past, present, and future, then we do not need to worry about what tomorrow holds. The first time my husband lost his job, we spent hours, days, and weeks, fretting over all of the things that we couldn’t control. Hours, days, and weeks that could have been spent simply enjoying each other’s company, having fun as a family, and creating good memories were lost to all of the worries and cares of the day. That’s time that we can never get back. These days, instead of wasting time worrying (which cannot add an hour to our lives, according to Scripture), we strive to “redeem the time” by acknowledging that God has a purpose and plan for it, and that He has graciously given us more time together, as a family, to grow closer to Him and each other. What do you need to do to enjoy the present time more fully?
- Start taking steps towards the future. This does not negate number one. While we acknowledge that God is in control of this entire situation, we also recognize that this does not mean that we get to sit back, and do nothing. As Bill Blankschaen says, in his blog post, “5 Ways to Keep Moving Forward When You Hit a Wall”, “If you find you can move forward where you are, don’t hesitate to start small. But do start.” For us, that means updating my husband’s resume, contacting job placement agencies, letting friends and family know that he is looking for another job, and scouring the internet for vacant job positions. It means taking a trip to the library and/or internet to learn more about how to write a better resume and ways to better market yourself. At times, these steps don’t seem like they amount to much; there are plenty of days when the pedals seem like they are spinning, but never engaging. Yet, we know that if there is something that can be done to keep us moving forward in the right direction, then we must do it, and right away. This is what keeps the downward spiral of depression from ever taking a foothold while we wait. What steps, no matter how small, might you take towards moving forward towards your future today?
- Allow ourselves to dream. Again, I’m going to steal from Bill Blankschaen’s post: “Let your imagination work backwards to see if other solutions present themselves…As Thomas Edison famously said, “There’s always another way.” Unemployment poses great opportunities! What? You heard me right. When you’re unencumbered by working for someone else, you are free to work for yourself, free to imagine what your life might look like if money were no object. In times past, when my husband has not been able to find outside work, we’ve created jobs for ourselves: once incorporating our own non-profit, 501c3, to provide low and no-cost sports and recreational opportunities for low-income individuals and families, and another time opening our own for-profit retail sporting goods store. We did not generate a lot of income from these businesses (in fact, the retail store got us into a huge amount of debt), but we learned to think outside of the box, and gained an incredible amount of knowledge about ourselves and what it takes to run a business. As I write, we’ve got several different irons in the fire, and we actually have the time, now, to pursue some of these ideas and dreams to see if any of them might become an income generator for us. Who knows? Perhaps we’re on the brink of a great, new idea or career that will provide an income for us! What are your goals and dreams, and what is keeping you from pursuing them?
No one wants to hear the words, “You’re fired!” They’re tough to take, no matter how many times you’ve heard them. When it happens, you’ve got two choices, you can lay down and die, or you can keep on pressing on. We’ve chosen to keep moving forward, on toward the goal that God has called us toward. We may not know exactly what our future holds, but we know that God holds the future (I know it’s cliche, but it’s true!). In the meantime, as we pray and seek after God, draw upon our savings, closely monitor our spending, enjoy the time that we have “daddy” at home with us, take necessary steps towards employment, and start fleshing out our own personal dreams and goals, we can laugh at the words, “You’re fired!” because we have an internal peace that comes from knowing God is in control of this entire situation, that He will continue to provide for all of our needs while we are waiting, and that, no matter what happens, we will grow into a deeper relationship with Him and each other as we keep on trudging this road of life, refusing to be stopped by those two, powerless words.
If you are facing unemployment, I hope that you have been encouraged. If you know someone who is unemployed, perhaps you can share these words of hope with them. Whether employed or unemployed, if you’d like to know what this peace is that surpasses all understanding, that comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I’d love to share this good news with you!