Lessons in a Season of Unemployment

The Moore Family Story:
 

Our lessons learned during a season of unemployment

A note of encouragement from a BCF family.
Some among us are feeling the pressure of uncertain economic times and have either faced a job loss or the potential of a layoff in the months to come.  A few years back, our family experienced a situation very similar to what some in our church are experiencing, and with this note, we hope to offer a bit of encouragement, support, advice and prayer in this season.
In the fall of 2008, I lost my job. To be honest, in the end, I lost a tooth and nail fight to maintain a spot on a shrinking company roster, a company that was no longer enjoyable to work for, a company that brought more stress to our lives than benefit. With my wife staying at home with our eight month old daughter, I thought it was my role in our family to go to work early, stay late, work hard, and never complain, no matter how bad it got. This pressure to provide was a passive pressure that I figured everyone felt. But, as I drove home on the day that I was let go, the pressure became very real. I was driving home to let my wife know that Plan A just ended, and there was no Plan B.
Through the five months of unemployment, we went through many emotions, everything from feeling “picked on” by my former employer, to inadequacy, embarrassment, hopelessness, and at times, world-class pity parties. We also experienced blessings, support, the best little Christmas season a family could have, and most evidently, Christ’s steadfast and perfect love through the hands and feet (and prayers, and gift cards, and hugs, and calls, and job leads, etc.) through His church family. From visiting with other families who have gone through a job loss, I feel I can say that these feelings are somewhat universal. During our five month season of unemployment we learned a few important lessons. Some may apply to your story, some may not, but we hope that they can encourage you:
 
  • We leaned to redefine work as an exchange of services for money. That’s it. If you find that a job offers more than this, consider these “other things” (friendships, respect, a platform of influence) as a blessing worthy of praise and thanksgiving, not an entitlement linked to the primary exchange of your time and services for wages. The timing and duration of these exchanges are not always within our control. Take your company, your management, and your colleagues (past, present, and future) off the hook. Forgive them when they act in the interest of their own flesh (and/or at the detriment of your flesh) and accept that God holds you, your career, and your relationships in His hands.
 
  • We learned to redefine money as a human invention which turns printed paper into a means to eat, provide shelter, and clothe ourselves. The rest of what the world has turned money into is mostly sin-based. Pride, lust, greed, and jealousy are a big part of making and spending money outside of our basic needs. Money as a means of feeling secure will never compare to a reliance on God for security. 
 
  • We learned to remove anger, revenge, and jealousy from the process. Out of instinct, I thought that I had something to prove to my former employer… that they made a wrong decision in letting me go. Wise council told me to consider myself “removed from that mission field, and placed in a training program for my next assignment.” In other words, I had to let it go. 
 
  • We learned to be very aware that pride can wreck you. Humility is only learned by accepting and embracing where God has you. God’s economy is not based on how much we have in the bank, our annual income, what our job title is, or who wants to interview us.  The Bible tells us that He takes care of the birds. He will take care of us.
 
  • We learned that the most important piece of the puzzle is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ followed by a loving family and friends. God gives us to each other for just these times.  One of our greatest blessings was that no matter what we faced, my wife and I were never down together at the same time.  She was upbeat and hopeful when I was doom and gloom, and vice versa. We were also amazed by His perfect timing shown when our loved ones would lift us up at the perfect moment.
 
  • We learned to try to use every day to glorify God.  Don’t be embarrassed, be bold and transparent in your spheres of influence about what God is teaching you during this struggle. Don’t let your earthly status get in the way of the power in His work through you – so many others are struggling silently around you.
 
  • We learned to stay creative and tenacious – job markets are tough – take challenges – websites alone won’t get you anywhere. Show up in lobbies of companies, network to the fullest. If you are hitting dead ends, expand your scope. I expanded my search area from Northwest Houston (Month 1), to the greater Houston area (Month 2), to large Texas cities (Month 3), to the entire US (month 4) – which finally led us to taking a job in a small town in Wyoming, population 1,500. God can move the mountains that stand in our path, or as in our case, sometimes God moves us to the mountains, and onto an amazing new path beyond our imagination.
 
  • As a husband and dad, I learned the true intent of my role as a provider. It extends way past finances – We as husbands need to provide peace in crisis, hope in devastation, and consistency as the Spiritual leaders of our household. For me, it meant a temporary shift in gears-  I had to figure out how to provide for our daughter during the day as my wife returned back into the workforce for a few months. Men – don’t “check out,” stay strong.
 
  • Finally, as a family, we learned that we can do hard things.  And we love the lessons that we can call our own from leaning in to challenges, trusting God, and embracing the great unknown ahead.
 
In closing, it’s important to say that we don’t have it all figured out.  Most days we are just happy that we get a chance to try again, to face the challenges that we were too afraid to face the last time, including the challenge to share a part of our story in hope that it could help you. We have been so blessed to call Bayou City Fellowship our church home since we’ve moved back to Houston.  We hope that you have found some of our lessons helpful.
God Bless,
Eric Moore