It had been three weeks since I was laid off, and I was still trying to figure out how to cope with my job loss. Conventional wisdom said I should get out of the house. So I joined a new men’s group at church.
But as soon as the first guy asked what I did for a living, I wanted to leave. What did I do? What was I? A job hunter? Unemployed? Officially, I didn’t “do” anything anymore.
As if on autopilot, I heard myself give the answer I had given a thousand times before: “I work in IT.”
But this time, it was a lie.
My problem continued as I found a table to join. During our “get to know each other” time, we shared our names and–you guessed it–what we did.
I never realized how important having an answer to that question was. It was as if no other information could be processed without first knowing which bucket I belonged in: blue-collar, white-collar, manager, or owner.
Being laid off brings feelings of failure, but you don’t have to face it alone
Searching for a job after being laid off is exhausting. Each day followed a similar pattern: Wake up early. Identify possible positions. Customize resume to fit that role. Write a killer cover letter. Apply. Hear nothing. Land an interview? Still hear nothing.
Rinse and repeat.
Each failure chipped away at my confidence and fed the seeds of self-doubt. Eventually, even a simple “How’s the job hunt going?” from my wife felt like scathing criticism.
I knew she was trying to be supportive, but after a long day of failures, it felt like she was screaming, “You’re letting us all down! You need to do more!”
As a man, I felt the pressure to provide for my family. But how could I be a provider without an income?
When I felt myself slipping down the spiral of negativity, I spent more time reading my Bible. And I was reminded of some fundamental truths:
- I was chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4-5)
- I am not alone (Psalm 34:18).
- Jesus will not allow me to be broken (Isaiah 42:3).
- Jesus will give me rest (Matthew 11:28).
- He will use this struggle for my good (Romans 8:28).
The more I read God’s word, the more I realized I didn’t have to carry the weight of job loss alone. He had already provided me a helper (Genesis 2:18).
My wife and I were accustomed to sharing burdens, but my unemployment stretched us further out of our typical roles to make ends meet. She took extra hours at work, and I took over school transportation, homework assistance, and random household chores.
Working outside of our natural abilities gave us a greater appreciation for each other and helped us feel like a real team.
Job loss also brings opportunity for change
After the layoff, God made it clear He wanted me to pursue full-time ministry. But a switch like that takes time. I had a lot to learn, and I needed to go back to school.
Without my wife’s help, I would have been tempted to abandon God’s calling and find a job in my previous field just to make ends meet. Thankfully, we were able to stretch my severance package to cover our finances. But it was my wife’s support that gave me the confidence to press on, even when it got hard.
I’ll never forget one interview I went on. After explaining my calling to the pastor, he said, “No one is going to pay you to do that.”
His blunt honesty was shocking. But what was more shocking was my response.
“It doesn’t matter; God called me to do this. I’m going to do it with or without you.”
I went home and shared the news: I wasn’t getting the job.
“Honey, I don’t know what to do,” I told my wife. “I feel like I’m driving this family off of a cliff.”
Without skipping a beat, she lifted her arms into the air and yelled, “Weeeeeeeee!”
She could have broken my spirit at that moment. But her support gave me the strength to press on.
God provides in the waiting
It’s easy to see a job as provision, but God is not limited to such obvious means.
After my layoff, we endured a 90% reduction in household income. By all accounts, we should have been devastated. Instead of quickly blessing me with a new job, God blessed me with a four-year-long journey into ministry.
During that time, I was able to:
- Learn to trust in God’s provision.
- Simplify my life and eliminate unnecessary stressors and expenses.
- Strengthen relationships with my kids before the critical teenage years.
- Establish a daily routine of Scripture reading.
- Start daily “coffee-time” dates with my wife.
- Finish my bachelor’s degree after a 20-year break.
- Complete a master’s degree.
- Strengthen my marriage.
- Answer God’s calling on my life.
If you find yourself out of work, by all means, look for a job. But while you do, take care not to miss all the ways He is providing for you today.
For more help listen to Facing Job Loss on FamilyLifeToday.com.
Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Carlos Santiago is a senior writer for FamilyLife and has written and contributed to numerous articles, e-books, and devotionals. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in pastoral counseling. Carlos and his wife, Tanya, live in Little Rock, Arkansas, with their two children.