As a child I enjoyed playing the game of Hide & Seek. It mattered not if I was the hider or if I was the seeker (called “it”). The game was pure fun!
As an adult I hid a lot when I was unemployed. I hid from family. I hid from friends. I hid from myself.
I hated talking about being unemployed and avoided it like the plague by changing the conversation at the very hint of it being discussed. I hated being unemployed. I hated the word unemployed and then shifting over to the super-sized version of the word—long-term unemployed.
I felt like no matter how much I called out my position so the seeker—a full-time employer—could find me, “it” didn’t hear me. Didn’t acknowledge me. Didn’t want to find me. I must have hidden really well. Then finally one day “it” heard me.
Every day being unemployed felt the same to me. Uncertain. Frustrating. Depressing. Even with my quest to always seek joy. But then one day I thought about it and looked back and realized all of those days held some form of incremental change. That was the joy. Something small. Probably totally insignificant at the time. Minutiae. But over time, all of those things, those little changes, added up. That’s how life sneaks up on us. Time can move slowly or fast….it all depends on our perspective.
As a fiercely independent person it was hard to lean on others. My two seasons of unemployment taught me that gift. The gift of vulnerability and truly being open to trusting other people. The gift of thankfulness for my family. The gift that even while others are happy and celebratory of holiday happenings that I too could be happy during the holidays if I chose to be. I learned there is a quiet strength that comes from being vulnerable.
As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, there is the added burden of a different type of financial anxiety associated with this time of year on top of concerns regarding meeting the regular monthly expenses. Not to mention the anxiety of having to answer well-meaning questions from parents, Aunties, Uncles, cousins, grandparents and other extended family members steadily inches up. Yes, you’ll hear the same questions over and over again.
Just thinking about my family asking those questions would make my heart race. I would tighten up. Be ready to be defensive. In the end, it pains me to admit that I honestly didn’t enjoy my special holiday times with my loved ones, all because I wanted to feel in control (although I was anything but). Then before I looked up the holiday was over and everyone was heading back home. Do me a favor? Choose differently than I did. Try not to clam up like I did during two seasons of the holidays. I wish like crazy I could get those moments back. Wish I had known then not to be so guarded and defensive. Don’t play emotional hide and seek with your loved ones. Trust them. Let them in. Make the choice to stop hiding and let yourself enjoy them regardless of your job status coupled with their well-meaning advice or questions.
Relax. Chill. Trust. Stay positive. Be present. Enjoy the holidays. Savor and enjoy your time with family. They mean well. They only want and have the best intentions for you. Welcome their support. Lean in and feel their love and support surround you like a huge welcoming joyous hug, then reciprocate it right back to them.
Unemployment is hard and downright ugly and difficult. You may not always see it day-to-day but you have so much to be thankful for. Think on these things. Trust that greater things are ahead of you. “It” is just taking time to find you. And it will.
In the meantime, enjoy the fact that you have someone to lean on.
Be blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
Having gone through a long-term unemployment, I know first-hand how stress becomes a constant and unyielding burden. So, I thought I would share a few lighter moments, advantages and pros to help offset the dark side of unemployment.
The dark side – you know, the loss of dignity and self-worth, the lack of a steady full-time income and benefits, the part of your brain that constantly screams that the longer this goes on that no one will hire you and thus making you feel even more desperate, like a forgotten and lost member of society.
A few advantages include:
- Friends and family benefit from all of your excessive baking or newly learned home improvement skills. Your flower bed is pristine with not a weed in sight and your car is always clean from being washed on a weekly basis.
- You set your own schedule. You can watch Netflix or sit in the park all day.
- You know the weekly guest line up for all of the morning talk shows.
- You’ve learned how to focus your job search efforts. If you have any kind of college or advanced learning degree, you’re overqualified. If you have any kind of college or advanced learning degree, but don’t have a very specific form of word processing skills, you’re underqualified.
- No one micromanages or criticizes your performance (unless you’re married and your spouse is constantly asking when you’re going to start working again!).
- You become a seasoned expert, an unemployment counselor to friends and family who are just entering the process. Your friends tell their friends, “Oh, you should talk to my friend so and so… They’ve been looking for work for a really long time.”
- You salivate like Pavlov’s dog when the recruiter or potential employer calls or (gasp) an email arrives from a potential employer. Then you get scared when they ask if you can come in for an interview. Confidence, oh confidence, where did you go? I really need you back, like right now. Please come back! Now. I’ve missed you. I need you.
- You’ve built a shield around yourself like a superhero. Its called the Super Rejection Shield that bounces off any form of potential employer rejection.
- You get your beauty sleep by sleeping late which makes up for all of the tossing and turning you do every night. So when friends see you they always say “You look great!”. And you secretly smile inside because they look so worn and stressed (is that mean?).
- You take up a new hobby or sport and become a regular at the gym, tennis court, walking trail, etc.
Things may not look great right now if you’re looking for steady meaningful work. Trust me. It will get better. Your time is coming!
Don’t give up. Don’t give in to doubt, defeat or the dark side of unemployment.
Always find the positive. You may have been knocked down but you will get back up again. You’re still here.
Think of skills you’re learning or relearning (e.g., patience, listening, research, being present, appreciation for little things, etc.)
Keep your head up. Hang in there.
Find a little bit of joy in every day.
Such a simple question. Such a complicated answer. Especially when you are not working…full-time.
For an extended period of time—well over two years—I was long-term unemployed, not working and actively looking for work. Any kind of work. Any kind of full-time, part-time, any kind of work. I dreaded when I met someone new and they asked me that simple little question. How can such a simple question stop a grown woman dead in her tracks? I did anything I could to shift and turn the conversation to a more appealing and interesting topic.
Why? Because people look at you oddly. They don’t think they do. Nor do I think they think they do. I think they also don’t intend to do what they do. It’s not pity. It’s just a look. The look. Like oh.
And heaven forbid they discover you’ve got degrees plus a lot of work experience. There it is. The look. Again. Like oh.
I think part of it comes from being the overly sensitive recipient of this question and feeling judged because you can’t make it happen (even though it is totally out of your control – it would really be nice if life were like a situation comedy and you could wiggle your nose or snap your fingers and make someone hire you). Not to mention the media falsely promoting that most unemployed workers are lazy, uneducated, seeking benefits (yeah, you’ll get rich very quickly on unemployment income – NOT) or simply not looking for work. Try telling that to my college educated, degreed and experienced friends who were looking for work right along with me. Our little band of professional but long-term unemployed misfits trying to make our way through a maze of job searches, multiple resume revisions, career fairs, no responses to automated resume submissions, applying for multiple jobs to only receive an occasional call for an actual interview, the “we’re very impressed with your skills and qualifications but we selected another candidate” rejection letters, etc. I personally have a sneaky suspicion, and my gut feeling is, that a huge percentage of the currently unemployed and long-term unemployed are college educated, experienced workers who actually want and desire to work…but what do I know?
The question is “What do you do?” I didn’t like answering that question. But I didn’t lie. I met it full on. I cannot say that I embraced it. Rather I learned how to respond to it. Like my job search took me a very long time, it took me quite some time to learn how to respond to this simple question. My responses ranged from head down, eyes randomly staring off into space while mumbling:
- I lost my job due to downsizing.
- I’m not working at the moment.
- I’m currently transitioning and between jobs.
- I’m a consultant (I said this a lot, even when a freelance project had ended weeks ago and I was hanging around while hoping and waiting on the next project to appear).
- I’m a consultant (I said this a lot, when I was working various part-time odds and ends jobs just to keep myself busy and earn a few coins).
- I’m a substitute teacher (a job I was eager to do but once I started it realized I did not enjoy it, nor welcome it, and it only made me appreciate real teachers even more).
The saying is “Never let them see you sweat”. So I didn’t. But in my head, this was me most of the time because I was floating down some river without a paddle and not knowing how to get off or what to do. Although I had some of the best laid plans (I’m a girl who always has a plan and needs to be busy) they never worked the way I wanted and this pretty much summed up my life the entire time I was looking for work:
Finally I learned to just be me. Yes, my circumstances and situation had changed (um, quite drastically and significantly!). However, I—the core and the essence of me—had not changed. I returned to me which meant I began to lift my head high and look people in the eye as I adopted a more proactive stance with my response to this question:
- I’m actively looking for work (I purposely kept it vague and didn’t say I wasn’t working or between jobs). My background is in healthcare, hospital and consulting firms. Please do keep me in mind if you hear of anyone that is hiring? Or I would say “Sure, I would love to talk with your friend or neighbor or cousin or hair stylist or your sister’s boyfriend or whomever it is that you want me to talk to” in response to them saying oh, I think so and so might be able to help you.
- I’m actively looking for work and I’m interested in working for a non-profit organization, preferably in or related to healthcare, and the opportunity to work with and help people.
I also finally learned that sometimes “What do you do?” is really just a very simple and innocent question about what you do. People you’ve just met genuinely want to know more about you and that is simply their motivation behind asking it. No harm, no foul. Yikes! I had to stop being hypersensitive, paranoid and feeling judged by this simple little question.
Another lesson learned is that networking comes in all forms. The typical professional contacts. The family contacts. The friend contacts. The extended friend and family contacts. The newly met people contacts. It really boils down to relationship building. Whether they are current or new contacts. Whether they are in your professional circle or not. You never know who knows whom and what kind of leads or potential conversations it can turn into. I learned that instead of shrinking back while shutting down emotionally and closing myself off that I needed to open myself up and respond to this question with my normal grace and confidence knowing that the right opportunity would come my way as an answer to my numerous prayers for a j-o-b.
I learned that the label of unemployment is unfathomable. It binds you up in what feels like the bottom of the bottom of the pit. Then to have to try to answer a question to explain the what, the why, etc. to people you’ve just met who don’t know anything remotely about you or your circumstance. And get the look. Like oh. I can’t even…
I also learned that this simple four word question is one of the most humbling and gut wrenching questions anyone can ask you when you are unemployed. It kicks you….deep in your soul. It brings you to your knees. It pierces you like a knife through your heart. Basically, it slays you. It wrecks you. It tears you apart and beats you down. Because you are consumed with working and it is yet another in-your-face reminder that sadly you are not.
It took me a while to realize it wasn’t always about me trying to stay happy while sometimes feeling like such a Debbie Downer regarding my situation, hoping to speed things up so I could provide a “real” answer to the question, or try to pinpoint how I could transform or reposition myself and my skills to transition into something new (or even figure out what it was that I wanted to transition into).
I am happy to say I’m working now – full-time. It was a long time coming but well worth the wait while believing I Thessalonians 5:16-18. God is still in the business of answering prayers…and it continues to happen on His time. Not yours. He heard my every prayer, saw my every tear, felt my despair (and desperation). Just as He hears, sees and feels yours too.
If you are currently looking for work, I hope you learn this lesson much more quickly than I did. I want to encourage you!!! Stay strong. Don’t let this question, these four little words, get you down. Hold onto faith. Keep praying. Keep believing.
Your day is coming and in the meantime you too are able to look the person in the eye, answer the question with grace, confidence and your head held high. I hope your day comes real soon and you are blessed with a great job!
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good
and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.
13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
“I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.
I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you
and will bring you home again to your own land.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT)
The word waiting means to: 1. to remain steady in a place of readiness or expectation, 2. to look forward expectantly, and 3. to be ready and available.
If we wait with expectation, then why is waiting so hard? As kids we could not wait to grow up – to go to the next grade, have a first crush, get our driver’s license, go to prom, etc. As young adults we wait to find the perfect mate. As women we wait 9 months to birth and greet a precious baby. As students we wait for college to end so careers can begin. The list of the hopes, dreams, events, and things we wait for is endless.
Waiting can be a beautiful and happy experience. It can also be a time of pain, struggle, questions and heartache when we have to wait for an extended period of time.
God has hidden joys along the waiting journey. Waiting is our destiny. A place of faith, trust and thankfulness.
Our trials and challenges strengthen and stretch us as they take us to new heights in confidence and character. Waiting helps instill patience, trust, and thankfulness for God is always with us − He will never leave or forsake us.
“The atmosphere of expectancy is the breeding ground for miracles.” – Israel Houghton
In the Waiting by Vicki Yohe 04IntheWaiting.mp3
The gift nobody
Longs still it comes
Somehow leaves me
Stronger when it’s gone away
Pray I try and pray
For your will to be done
But I confess it’s never
Fast enough for me
It seems the hardest part
Is waiting on you
When what I want
Is just to see your hand move
I want a peace beyond my
Understanding I wasn’t to feel
It fall like rain
In the middle of my hurting
I want to feel your arms as they
And let me know that it’s okay
To be in this place
Resting in the peace that only comes
In the waiting
Time, time to let it go and just believe
Trusting in what no one else
But you can see
Free freedom from the fears that
Close me in when I can’t beyond where
I have been but then Again the silence
Doesn’t mean that I’m alone
As long as I can hear
That I’m still your own
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, Thus, saith the Lord.
Oh how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me,
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood.
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life, and rest, and joy, and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Chorus: Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
Oh for grace to trust Him more.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
Most of us get excited about the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays. Everything from shopping for the perfect gifts, finding or making awesome and unique decorations, hosting and attending the most fabulous Christmas parties, spending time with loved ones, to receiving that extra special Christmas present. We are all about enjoying the Ho Ho Ho and shaking our Jingle Bells all the way to our Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
For some, the holiday season is not wrapped up in merriment and joy and is often a very bleak and dreary time. In today’s economy, it could be a meager Christmas due to a parent or both parents loss of work, disharmonies and poor dynamics within families, living alone, finances that don’t allow families to travel to spend time with their loved ones, the loss of loved ones, or numerous other reasons. When this happens, most people often give up hope.
Hope is a confident expectation. A firm assurance that all will be well. In spite of our circumstances, when Christ lives in us, we can enjoy every day of our life for Galatians 2:20 says that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”. Therefore, we need to:
- Hope in the uncertainty
- Hope in pain
- Hope in grief
- Hope in sickness
- Hope in despair
- Hope in loneliness
- Hope in financial woes
- Hope in unemployment
- Hope in hurt
- Hope in sorrow
- Hope through our tears
- Hope through our concerns
- Hope through our fears
- Hope through life
Without hope, we have nothing. As Hebrews 10:23 states – Let us hold fast to hope…for He who promised is faithful.
Serve as an ambassador of hope this Christmas season. Share this precious gift and be a blessing to others. Minister to someone in need, give a word of encouragement, plant a seed of faith, share a smile or lend a hand.
Spread the joy of hope!
Matthew 6:33 always calms me when I am feeling frazzled, confused, frustrated, and running on empty. It says: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
As Christians, we know worry is not what God wants for us. He wants us to always maintain our trust in Him. To confide and share our innermost thoughts with Him, no matter what the circumstance(s) may be, or how difficult things may seem. As humans, our emotions are fickle and often get the best of us. If we allow them, our emotions can take us on wild roller coaster rides of highs and lows, with little glimmers of peace and joy sprinkled in between our problems. Our emotions can be like cunning little thieves which creep up on us to make us feel defeated, hopeless, and worthless. In other words, we often allow our emotions to steal our joy.
God gives us a command in scripture when He says do not worry about your life in Matthew 6:25. What He is saying, is do not let your problems or concerns dominate or consume your thought life. Have you ever noticed your problems become bigger and bigger the more you dwell on them? That is because what we choose to dwell on becomes magnified.
Look at the wonder of nature and how God provides in abundance. God takes care of the birds and He provides them with sustenance to feed them. He takes care of the grass and the flowers in the fields. Surely, He will take care of His children. As His children, he takes pride in us. He wants the best for us. He values us. He loves us. He treasures us.
Let us sink God’s word deep into our hearts. We should seek Him first and allow Him to work things out. We don’t know what today or tomorrow will bring, but we seek and trust our faithful God with all of our today’s and tomorrow’s. He will help us with whatever comes our way. God is already there. Meditate on His word. Pray. Seek His face. Don’t let your problems and concerns steal your joy.
Seek Him first. Do not worry.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.