We’ve been on this merry-go-round twice in our married life. The first time was the day we were scheduled to meet with a social worker to begin an adoption home study! Having taken a stress leave the previous summer due to some medical and extended family issues, we sensed that my husband’s employer was looking for a way to terminate Bill’s employment. So in some ways it was not a total shock when he called and said he had been laid off. I quickly gulped back the tears, called and rescheduled our home study visit and braced myself to figure out what was next.

Years later, we moved to a new community to take on a new challenge with the company Bill "landed" in after this experience. He was excited about the new opportunity and increased responsibility and enjoyed many aspects of the new job. We settled in and I found part-time work and got our children established in a new school and neighbourhood. Nine months later, he had his first formal performance review. We were both blindsided by his boss’ announcement that he was being let go! In this case, the issue was office politics, which he was blissfully unaware of until this happened.    

There are a number of observations I would like to share about these experiences.

God is faithful

First, we celebrate the faithfulness of God who supplied all of our needs through these trying experiences. Periods of unemployment were mercifully relatively short and in both cases, we can testify that each job change led to a better situation with a more supportive employer than the previous one. So God brought good out of what seemed like very bad circumstances as we waited on Him.

Take wise steps

Second, we did more than just wait. We budgeted carefully, cut back unnecessary expenses and did what we could to live within our means. We made sure to be faithful to follow through with important financial obligations. We engaged in diligent job search while also taking seriously Bill’s personal needs for encouragement and processing of these experiences. We made some funds available for counselling and to take a little time to nurture our relationship. I got some counselling myself after the second experience to deal with the anger I felt at the company for their poor leadership in the situation.

Develop empathy

Third, we recognize that these were traumatic experiences that have some residual impact. Bill has a very hard time today with performance evaluations. He has not had a poor evaluation in years, not in any respect, but each year when that task comes around again, he is anxious and moody for days, fearing getting blindsided again. I usually clue in after a day or two and remind him of the truth: that he is good at what he does, that he has great relationships with his team and supervisor, that they have the integrity to bring issues to his attention before a performance review if there are concerns, and that he has no reason to expect otherwise. He always gets through them just fine, but he still needs to be encouraged.

Live with humility

Fourth, we live with a measure of humility and awareness that there are no guarantees in life. Jobs can be here today and gone tomorrow and it is an illusion to believe that we have control or security in this area of our lives. All we can do is our best to serve our employer and the Lord to the best of our ability and trust that God will supply our needs ("give us this day our daily bread"). An uncertain economy may mean any of us could be out of work at any time. God has not promised us absence of trouble, but He has promised us His presence in the midst of trouble. We have experienced that and are grateful for it.

© 2010 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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