Out of work, unemployed—that’s a scary place to be.
My family and I have lived through that a few times. Even when your company tells you months in advance that they are downsizing, and you start taking steps to prepare, to protect yourself, living with that shadow over your head leaves a stricken place in your heart. When it strikes unexpectedly, the grief is crushing. We’ve had both. Both feel lonely and out of control.
I would always try to act brave and keep life as normal as possible so as to not frighten the children. As weeks turned into months, I could fall into a sadness where I would rather just stay in bed and not face the world, or I would be working on the computer and begin sobbing uncontrollably over the fears that lurked about.
People who have never gone through the experience do not understand. Sometimes they say hurtful things without realizing it. I remember a woman telling me that my husband could find work if he tried as there were plenty of jobs. I felt I had been sucker punched. My husband is hard working and far from lazy. With his job experience and education, he was seeking a certain type of work which at the time during a recession was scarce in our area. He was sending out resumes. There were a lot of people seeking the same jobs. She had no idea. I was quiet, but inside I was angry, misunderstood, alone. I wanted to explain but knew this person had already formed her opinion and really didn’t want to hear our side of the story.
Others can be very generous, offering odd jobs to help you be productive while you search. Our church was generous in helping with food boxes at Thanksgiving or through anonymous gifts. We were blessed. When people are going through a tough time of losing a job, it is hard to receive charity. It hurts one’s pride to be needy. You really want to be the one blessing others, but oh how thankful you are to know that others care.
Recently, I read “The Gift of Food” by Jennifer Ball-Tufford in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Reader’s Digest, pages 50-51. It got me thinking about all that I’ve just shared. It reminded me of the different food pantry services that were available during our time of need. There are a few bent and dent type stores in our area. I visited one a few times. Some people were stocking up on lots of canned goods to give to the poor. They were so excited about how generous they felt they were being, but I bought a few items and left. Almost everything was past the best use date. Some of it was full of sugar. In fact some boxes of food that we got from a charity organization had mostly expired food in it. Would you buy that for your own family? Why is it okay to give the poor the old stuff no one wants? Whenever we contribute to food drives, I always think of this and carefully select items that will help make a few healthful meals for some family. Like Ball-Tufford said in her article, what can one say since beggars cannot be choosers, right?
It has been many years since we were unemployed, but I know some people looking for work. I try to encourage them and pray for them, respect them and love them.
When you encounter someone going through hard times, try putting yourself in his or her shoes. How could you help? And if someone is crying out for help, listening and hugging are always appreciated.
How about you? Have you ever walked this road?