For this personal note I’m going to pick up where the following posts left off:
“Healing, but not quite there yet” (May 18th, 2013)
“Powerlessness: I Cannot Make Someone Hire Me” (March 15th, 2013)
“Discouraged Job Seeker meets Under-Employed” (March 14th, 2013)
My posting and cartooning has not been prodigious lately. God blessed me with a great full-time job opportunity recently. The transition to the new job, as well as the holiday season, put PSOL on the backburner. I am still “transitioning,” but my hope is that the dust will settle soon as I move toward a predictable routine. Change may be the “spice of life,” but routine is the “meat and potatoes” of my every day. I don’t accept change gracefully, even if it’s good change.
I’ve been wanting to write a personal article. Let you know—for what it’s worth—a bit more about me these past 12 months. I may hop around here a bit, subject to subject. But, I will end up picking up where the above articles left off.
I do like the anonymity of the internet because it affords me a sense of privacy and personal security. And anonymity speaks to that better part of me that values humility. Going nameless protects me to some extent from my own vanity. My vanity is terrible. Off the chart, really. Believe me. It’s insufferable. I worry what people think of me, I worry what people are not thinking of me, I long for recognition, etc., etc. My list of vanities goes on and on. It’s a shameful and painful shortcoming.
And on that self-deprecating note I’ll add I do not have a very high opinion of my own articles on my website. It’s true. I look at them sometimes and think, “Where is the hard-hitting research to back that statement?!” The articles I do hold in the highest regard are those in which I’m most personally honest—the vulnerable and most personally revealing embarrassing articles. All that being said, I’m happy with the site.
If I waited until I wrote professional-like articles, or had all the hard-hitting research, I might never write an article. I humbly submit this is where I’m at right now. And I dig my crummy little cartoons too. They’re so fun to do. Same thing with my cartoons: If I waited until I sketched and inked my cartoons “professionally” on large heavy paper, I might never post a cartoon!
So I offer up my website to God and say, “This is where I’m at, God. I know it’s not professional looking. I know the articles need links and facts and quotes and research. I know the cartoons are rough and poorly photocopied. This is all I can do right now. It’s not perfect. It’s not finished. It’s not professional. It’s not ready. It’s not refined. But neither am I. I’m a work in progress—heavy on the “progress.” And somehow deep down I think God is pleased with my trying.
OK. About the unemployment. My own unemployment, and the divorce, which came simultaneously in the fall of 2011. Yes, God is healing my wounds. I feel better. Much better. Better than last year, and better than the year before that. The insane panic attacks are gone. The crippling boredom is gone. The desperate loneliness is gone (no I haven’t dated yet). And the debilitating anxiety(fears) are gone—well, the anxiety is almost gone. I’m almost out of the woods. Thank you God. Thank you God. By God’s grace, thank you God.
The divorce broke my heart. Long-term unemployment broke my spirit.
I might have benefitted had I taken anti-depressant medication. However, I did seek out a grief therapist. In my particular case, he felt I should employ some behavior tools before considering medication. We didn’t go the medication route. And I didn’t want to take meds anyway. Anti-depressants do serve a purpose and have improved the lives of thousands of people, but I didn’t want to go that route unless my therapist insisted.
God’s grace came in bits and pieces during this dark time. I really had to look hard to find ways God was sending help. And honestly, most days I couldn’t feel God’s presence in my life at all. It was like He was gone. Gone in my hour of need. I felt abandoned—by my wife AND by God. At that point…many many days…I just didn’t care if I lived or died.
The single greatest blessing that helped me through this time was/is my best friend. That man single-handedly saved my life. Truly we are blessed if we can claim one good friend. Thank you God for blessing me with so great a friend.
My son’s welfare gave me fortitude also. Family and friends were absolutely vital, as God usually sends help to me through people.
I doubled, then tripled, my spiritual/faith commitments and devotions.
One year ago, after 14 months no employment, plus one month at a job I couldn’t keep, I got a new job. A seasonal job part-time cashiering. Low pay. No benefits. I’m working my butt off because I like to keep busy at work. I don’t care for cashiering (actually, it wasn’t even the position I applied for), but at least I have SOMEWHERE to be during the day. Some place I was needed and wanted. A work schedule to plan my day around. I’m working. I’m with people. I’m moving and accomplishing tasks. I’m greeting and talking with people. I’m joking and laughing with co-workers. People are learning my name, and I have loads of new names of co-workers to remember. I have work cloths to launder. I have new earned money. I’d been living off savings for so long, it was really odd to get NEW money. It wasn’t much of a paying job, but in important ways it paid more than money.
I’d like to tell you I went to that part-time job with zeal each day. That wasn’t the case at all, particularly that first month. I was such an emotional and stressed-out basket case I could barely get to work. I was overwhelmed with fear, worry, depression, and stress. I don’t think I could have worked full-time had they asked me.
I had to throw-in the towel when it came to my beloved truck. I couldn’t afford the payments anymore. I waited as long as I could, hoping a great-paying job was just around the corner. I sold my truck to paid off the auto loan, and bought an old used car outright.
Part of me was grateful to God for the relief from boredom and loneliness this cashier job afforded me. Another part of me was screaming, “What am I doing here? I can’t stay here. I can’t pay my bills with this job. The time I’m spending at this job could be better spent at home on the computer applying for better jobs!” And, “What’s God going to do? Is He going to call me with a great new job—out of the blue? This is crazy. I’m guaranteed to lose my house with this job!”
I’m glad I did not listen to that screaming voice, because this is what happened. I was a wreck at that time. I was angry with God. But, by the subtle imperceptible grace of God, I did exactly the opposite of what my ego was screaming. Instead of turning away from God, I turned to God. I cried, “OK. I’m done. I’m a wreck. My life is a wreck. My life is in ruins, and I can’t fix it. Go ahead and wreck what’s left of my life, God. 250 resumes and I can’t do better than find a $10 an hour job working part-time seasonal. I’m done. I’m giving you my ‘yes.’ Do whatever You want with my life, my house, my car, my savings, my bills, my hope. I guess this is where You want me today.”
Two weeks later I got a phone call out of the blue from a good job. Out of the blue! Not a great job, but a good full-time job, better pay, working in a beautiful office building. It was temp-to-hire, and I was working in front of a computer again. And sitting! (My legs and feet ached from cashiering!) I ran to the interview on short notice. The next day they called to offer me the job. Next day! I hardly lifted a finger. I gave my notice to the part-time job, said my goodbyes, thanking God every step of the way.
In spring/summer 2013 I’m working full-time in an office in business-professional attire again. The pay is much better but only enough to buy me some time. Now I could afford my bills, but not the bills and the mortgage. And my mortgage is low. My house mortgage is cheaper than renting a 2-bedroom apartment! So, I’m not exactly living large here. I just don’t want to rent again.
Yes, I struggled with my new office job, but it was a HUGE step up from cashiering part-time. One of the great reliefs for me about the office job was finding I could handle working full-time again. I’d struggled so terribly with the part-time job I feared I wasn’t ready for full-time work yet. But, I fell right into working full-time at the office as easy and normally as if I’d never stopped working at all. Gosh that was a relief! (When you get broken by a divorce, do NOT under estimate the seriousness of the wound. And don’t underestimate how long it takes to heal.) Thank you God.
In that summer I had to cancel my health insurance coverage because I couldn’t afford it any longer. My home insurance coverage was rolled into my monthly mortgage. To lower my monthly mortgage payment I paid for the home insurance portion with a credit card. That eased my immediate monthly mortgage burden, but it increased my credit card debt.
It was a fine office job in a fine industry, but obviously I hoped for better. Many days I desperately hoped and prayed for better. After four months of working the office job I got a phone call out of the blue. Another phone call out of the blue! A call from a great company in the investment industry—an industry I love. The last resume I sent to them was over six months ago. Now a phone call.
Long story here, but the short of it is, the interview came fast, and boom boom boom, the investment company hired me full-time. My head was spinning. Again, I hardly lifted a finger! Before I knew it I was working full-time in the investment industry with an awesome company. It was temp-to-hire initially, but I was so excited to be back in the investment industry I didn’t care. Two months later the investment company hired me permanent—huge pay increase, full benefits, etc. etc. Now I can pay my bills and pay my mortgage. It’s a great job with a great company.
The series of coincidences and God-shots over the past 12 months have been miraculous. I don’t take a single bit of credit for any of it. I give all the credit to God and His amazing grace. I am truly blessed. I have a job, a full-time job, permanent, great pay, great benefits, great location, great company, great work schedule, great boss and co-workers, in an industry I really enjoy. What a blessing. Thank you God.
I wish I had the time to recount all the many many ways God sent help. I’d love to tell all those stories, but I’ve already written well beyond the average article length in this post.
And, I’d like to say I’m completely out of the woods emotionally and financially, but I’m not. I have a little further to go emotionally. Financially I have loads of divorce debt to manage. Before the divorce I was debt-free for years.
I know I haven’t had it nearly as bad as many folks, families, and those in retirement. So many people have been out of work longer and lost their homes. I know that many fathers are having to take jobs far from home to support their families.But I do know what it feels like bursting into tears over bills. I know what it feels like gripped by fear my debit card may get rejected at the gas pump. I know what it feels like having no idea how the mortgage is going to get paid this month. I know what it feels like losing one’s car. I know what it feels like for months and months and months passing by the meat counter at the grocery opting instead for canned soup again. I know what it feels like putting yet another emergency on the credit card heaping debt upon debt. I know what it feels like seeing my dog suffer another tooth infection I can’t afford to fix it. I know what it feels like sending out resume after resume after resume and…nothing. I know what it feels like to dress up for one more useless job interview that seems more like I’m just keeping one more HR person busy enough so they don’t lose their job. I know what it feels like to be out of work, looking around, lamenting everyone has a job but me. I know what it feels like to look out at rush hour traffic and know I’m not in it, I’m not part of it, I’m excluded, I’ve been exiled from the work world. I know what all that feels like, and so much more.
Again, I hope something I’ve shared about my experience may help someone know they are not alone, and there is hope. Glory be to God, the loving and merciful Father of us all. I didn’t deserve or earn or merit or was entitled to any of the good things that happened to me these past 12 months. I wasn’t entitled to any good fortune for having suffered so terribly a divorce. I’m a nothing. I’m nothing before God’s great power. May I always remember the debt to Him I can never repay in full. And grateful always to His good graces great and small.