Unemployment is not easy. I liken hearing the news of a job loss (or a spouse’s job loss) to hearing that a family member has died suddenly. Certainly, your job loss has the potential to end your current way of life until another job materializes.
No matter what happens to us in life, we react emotionally. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross documented specific stages of emotions that apply when people experience catastrophic personal loss, such as the loss of their job, a loved one or the end of a relationship. Let’s take a look at the five stages of emotions you will most likely go through after you lose your job.
DENIAL – Within seconds of learning about your job loss, your first reaction will be disbelief. This shock can be so severe that you initially won’t be able to believe the news you’ve just heard.
Your second reaction will be denial as your mind begins to review the information you were just told. Denial, which can last hours or even several days, acts as a buffer and allows you to collect your thoughts and emotions after you hear the devastating news that you no longer have a job.
When told of your job loss – which you most likely didn’t see coming – you received a severe emotional shock. That’s why you’re having such an adverse reaction. Your body can physiologically react to the shocking news in a number of ways including feelings of dizziness or difficulty breathing. Sit down and try to take deep, slow breaths. It may feel like you’re going to die, but you won’t.
Once you’re able to stop denying the news of your job loss, you’ll begin to think more clearly. Ask God to help you. Even if all you can pray is “Help, God, help,” He will hear you. It’s best not to go through this alone. Get in touch with a family member or close friend as quickly as possible. It will help to express your feelings to a supportive person you trust.
ANGER – Once reality begins to set in, you’ll feel anger. Anger can be rational or irrational. Most likely at first, it will be directed at your now former employer. How could the company do this to me? How am I going to support my family? How will I pay my bills?
Of course you’re angry! It’s a natural reaction to a devastating event in your life.
Some people allow this anger to carry over to their spouse and children. For example, you may feel angry when you learn that your child needs new shoes. Why? It’s not that you’re angry that your child has this need; it’s that you know you aren’t able to provide the money for the shoes. This type of anger is irrational.
Try to remember that your entire family is suffering right along with you. Do not take your anger out on them or on anyone else. You may be devastated but you still need to be respectful of others.
With rational anger, you realize that, while your job loss may be unfair and that you personally do not deserve this disaster, bad things happen in life. You’ll be able to focus your rational anger on the true cause of your unemployment, which for many people will be the current poor economy.
Again, talk with a supportive person who cares about you. You need their impartial counsel and listening ear.
BARGAINING – Bargaining attempts to postpone the consequences of unemployment. You’ll set a deadline and include a promise that you’ll keep if the postponement materializes. If there’s any bargaining to be done, it most likely will be with God as you already understand that bargaining with your former employer will not work.
“Oh, God, I’ll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life if you just give me a new job today.” The truth is, God never bargains.
Adversity is always an opportunity to get closer to God.
You would be wiser asking God what He wants you to learn through this adversity. Then listen carefully for His answer. As you read the Bible, certain passages may stand out. Make sure you spend quiet time each day with God. He may speak to you with His still small voice or He may speak to you through others.
Save yourself some angst and realize that bargaining with God – or even your former employer – will not produce the results you want.
DEPRESSION – At some point, you may feel depressed, hopeless, even doomed. Depression occurs when you take into account the losses you have already suffered as well as the losses you stand to suffer.
Unemployment brings numerous losses: loss of income, loss of your normal way of life, and maybe even the loss of your house. Some people lose their self-esteem during unemployment.
Unemployment can be one of the worst things a person ever goes through. Don’t hold your emotions tight within yourself or they’ll come out in inappropriate ways that you’ll regret. Talk candidly with someone you trust – your spouse, your minister, a mental health counselor, a close friend. Dealing effectively with your emotions will help lessen the effects of depression.
Make a concerted effort to not be hard on yourself. It is not your fault that the economy adversely affected your previous employer.
Try to remember that while bad times may last for awhile, they won’t last forever. The Old Testament is filled with stories of people who faced overwhelming adversity, but by relying completely on God, they successfully overcame their impossible situations. God is not just an Old Testament God. No, He is real and He is waiting for you to call upon Him for His help.
ACCEPTANCE – Once you’ve worked through your denial, anger, bargaining and depression, you will come to an acceptance of your situation.
This does not mean that you will or should be happy in this stage. It simply means that you understand the reason for your job loss and have accepted your current status as its consequence. For the time being, it is what it is. Bad things happen to everyone.
As a believer, you should now understand and accept that God is in charge and fully capable of taking care of all of your needs. Nothing that has happened to you is a surprise to Him.
Having reached this stage, you’ll realize that you do have a job: you need to search for another position in the workforce.
It’s important to note that it’s not unusual for a person to have completed some or all of the emotional stages only to have one or more stages resurface. When that happens, try to patiently work your way through those emotions. Stay positive. This, too, shall pass.
Keep in mind that, right now, jobs are scarce and there are many people who are out of work and looking for employment. Well-meaning friends may tell you that you’ll never again get a job like the one you lost. They may say that your age is against you or that you have too few or too many qualifications to get a job. But if you have been praying and reading the Bible, especially the stories about people who turned to God for help when all looked lost, you will immediately know that you are being handed a pack of untruths.
Do not believe the negative things people say to you. Rather, after you have accepted that God is in charge, believe that God can and will provide you with another good job according to His time.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.
If you are unemployed, please know that I care about you. I know what you’re going through. My husband and I went through all five stages of emotions during our 17 months of unemployment. We faithfully trusted God and He generously provided another good job for my husband. My prayer is that the knowledge in this article that we gained through our joblessness will help you and your family. From our own experiences, we know without question that God is faithful. You can trust Him.
Was this article helpful to you? In what way? Please drop me a line and let me know.
Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: First Collier Books Trade Edition, 1993.
Special thanks to Justin B. Howerter for explanations of physiology and psychology.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012
Are you in a dark place? A place without lightbulbs? Even if you had one, it wouldn’t work in this dungeon.
Are you grieving something? A diagnosis of cancer? The end of your marriage? The poor choices of your child? The death of a loved one? The loss of your job?
These are the things that can stomp the life, the joy right out of a person. Yes, even you. Even me.
Are you thinking that Hell is actually a place here on earth, not below it? I tell you, friend, that I am right there with you.
But I’m not going to stay there. And do you know why?
Because God is extending His hand to me. He is reaching out to me. He wants me to grab hold and allow Him to pull me out of this life-sucking situation.
God isn’t called “The Great Comforter,” “The Great Healer” for nothing. No, God is ever-present – even in the worst of times. When misery raises its ugly head, we have a God who never left our side.
Our worst situations are opportunities to become close to God. You see, God wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. We can’t have that when other things have our primary focus.
We were placed on this earth to serve God. Not ourselves.
It’s a choice we make. Simply put, you either choose God or you don’t. What is the alternative to not choosing God? It’s choosing Satan. Makes the choice obvious now, doesn’t it?
So, I’m going to take God’s outreached Hand. I’m going to read His Words. I’m going to believe His Promises.
Because if I don’t, as sure as the seasons change, I’m going to stay in this dark place. This place that weighs heavily on a person’s chest.
No, I don’t want a lifetime of that. Or even a day of that.
I’m choosing joy. What about you?
“God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.
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TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes, it brings good cheer! says an old song. If that is true, then I am filled to overflowing with good cheer.
The first of many guests arrived on December 15th, a group of three and a Shih Tzu. By the next evening, three more guests and a German shepherd joined us. Including my husband and me, that brought the number of folks staying at the Howerter Inn to 8 people, two guest dogs and two resident cats.
Good food and good cheer overflowed at our house. Our halls were decked with laughter and joy and an abundance of foods. I know our guests enjoyed themselves because one of them is still here on January 2nd, two others having departed last evening after dinner.
As the long holiday winds to a close, I cannot help but reflect on the past year. Do you ever do this? I mean, reflect on the past year?
If I begin my reflection at last Christmas, 2010, it begins with indescribable joy! After 18 months of unemployment and the selling of our home in April, 2009, my husband was given a wonderful job. He works for and with good people. God proved to the naysayers that anything is possible with God. Even giving a 50-something year old man a very good job. With God, never say never.
God generously and graciously bestowed a new house upon my husband and me. A beautiful house where our family and friends can gather and praise God for His mighty blessings.
I joined an on-line writers group of Christian women from numerous states. We check in daily and pray for each others’ needs. And even though we don’t get to see each other except at the writers conference in May, we have grown close praying for each other. We count on each other to encourage, offer advice, laugh, cry and pray.
The Lord sent me on a lovely trip to Williamsburg in February with my Aunt Betty Ann. Aunt and I had a wonderful time and we still reminisce and laugh about our memories. In March, God allowed me to accompany my daughter to Charleston on a business trip where we toured the beautiful historic city in the afternoons and evenings.
But just two days after arriving home, my daughter’s apartment was broken into and things she had worked hard to purchase were stolen by someone who chose not to work. Thankfully, my daughter’s schedule was changed at the last minute or she would have been home when evil came for a visit. The police detective told me that had my daughter been home at the time of the break-in, she most likely would have been raped and murdered.
We know it was Providence who changed her schedule unexpectedly. God spared her the violence that most certainly would have occurred had she been home. So in the face of evil, God kept His Word and good came out of it. We praise God with everything in us - how can you not?
While at the May writers conference in Asheville, North Carolina, I became very ill. By the end of the conference, I was too ill to drive the 8 hours home. I needed to leave the conference center, however, as there were no available rooms once the conference ended.
I asked God to help me find a nearby place where I could stay and recuperate until I was well enough to drive home. Help came the next morning in a phone call from our friends in Georgia. As soon as they heard how ill I was, they insisted I drive the two hours to their house. And even though they were leaving the next day on a previously planned trip, they stocked the refrigerator with foods I could eat and sent me to an area doctor. I stayed for days until I could make the lengthy trip home. God’s hand was on me.
Living in a new area, I became lonely. I will admit that I was slow to speak to my Father about this. Okay, so it didn’t even occur to me to speak with God about it until I was miserable with loneliness. And as a result, I was lonelier longer than I had to be.
But once I asked God to send true Christian friends to me, they began materializing, one at a time. How often do we miss out on blessings because we don’t speak to God about our situations?
I longed for a critique partner. So I prayed for one. See how I was learning to turn to God with everything? He sent me a gifted writer from Alabama whom I had met at the writers retreat in 2010. We email our work to each other, then critique the writing over the phone.
I longed for a writing mentor, and after asking God to send at least one mentor – if not several - they materialized in the form of talented women writers from West Virginia, South Carolina and Virginia.
From our unemployment experiences, we learned to thank God every single day. Even when nothing has occurred. Even when bad things happen. As I reflect over the past year, it is obvious that God was with my family and me. He protected us, He nurtured us, He encouraged us, He cared for us, He provided for us, He loved us.
Do you know God intimately? Do you have this kind of relationship with Him? I pray that you do. But if you do not, you can. Yes, you can! In fact, He’s waiting for you to invite Him into your life, your heart. Remember what happened when I didn’t ask God for his help? Nothing.
“The opening up of Your Word give light. It gives understanding to the child-like.” Psalm 119:130.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More
Good stories serve a purpose. While the objective of some stories is met immediately, the lesson of other stories can be years in the making. Such is the case with this story about my grandmother, Alice. Come with me as we visit my grandparents’ farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania.
A nip in the September air caused Alice to reflect that her four children had grown out of their winter coats, leggings and boots at the end of the previous winter. If the truth be known, the children outgrew the coats just as they fell apart from years of use by previous owners. Alice opened a canning jar that she kept hidden in a kitchen cupboard and counted the bills and coins it contained. There wasn’t enough to purchase winter clothing for one child let alone four.
With the Great Depression in full force, Alice and her husband Ed were having a difficult time making ends meet. As she so often did when adversity confronted her, Alice lowered her head in silent prayer. If there was anything good coming from such troublesome times, it was that Alice was learning to depend on the Lord to meet her family’s needs.
That afternoon as she hung laundry on the clothesline in the backyard, Alice turned her head and looked across the cornfield to the woods where several hickory trees grew at its edge. Their golden leaves made them easy to spot. She felt a strong urge to walk over to them and when she saw that the trees and ground were covered with an abundance of hickory nuts, an idea came to her. After filling her apron to overflowing with the nuts, she hurried home.
Each day, Alice and the children returned to the hickory trees and gathered the nuts. At night, they sat at the kitchen table by the light of an oil lamp and picked the nuts out of their shells. After weighing the nuts on a scale, each pound was poured into a small paper bag. It occurred to Alice that had she not followed the strong urging to walk over to the trees, she would never have thought of harvesting the nuts.
That Saturday, Ed loaded his wife, the bags of hickory nuts and a small wagon into the car and they drove into town. Ed drove to a residential area and after he unloaded the wagon, he and Alice filled it with the bags of nuts. Ed left as he had errands to do in town and Alice had a mission.
She pulled the wagon behind her as she went door to door seeking customers. It was now November and not only did she know that women were starting their Thanksgiving and Christmas baking, she also knew that hickory nuts were scarce due to the Depression, as were many things. In no time at all, Alice sold all of the bags for 25 cents each and even had several orders for more nuts.
For days, Alice and the children repeated the chores of gathering the hickory nuts, shelling, weighing and bagging them, and every Saturday, Alice walked through town and sold the nuts. When nature provided no more nuts, Alice counted her earnings. The harvest not only provided enough money to buy new coats, leggings and boots for all four of her children but much-needed winter coats and boots for Ed and her as well.
Because Alice faithfully turned to the Lord in the midst of her troubles, God always provided a way for Alice. He didn’t necessarily answer her prayers exactly the way she hoped or thought He would, but He answered in ways that were better than she could have imagined.
For as long as I can remember, my own mother relied on her faith and childhood memories to get her through the difficulties that visit a person’s life. And she loved to share these precious recollections with my siblings and me. Over 80 years later, when my own family and I found ourselves in the midst of severe misfortune, it was my mother’s stories about her parents’ faith and persevering spirit during hardships that provided examples for my husband and me.
When Christmas came and my husband and I had no money to buy presents for our own children or food for our usual feast, I thought of Grandma Alice and Grandpa Ed and I knew what I needed to do. I gathered our children close to me and explained that we already had the best presents – our love for each other and our faith that God would see us through our troubles. And just as He had done for my grandparents and parents, God faithfully provided for us.
What gifts are you giving your family? Are they tangible presents that are here today and gone tomorrow? Or will you pass on your faith which will last for generations?
“I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, because You saw my suffering; You knew my troubles.” Psalm 31:7.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More
Let me ask you this: are you using your adversity or is your adversity using you? Yes, you read that correctly.
Yesterday, I spoke with two people, unrelated, who are in the midst of unemployment. It was clear from the sound of their voices that their adversity was using them. They’ve been looking for a job for some time to no avail. Their cash supply is dwindling. No one has contacted them for an interview. They confided that their age, their many years of experience in the job force and the poor economy are all working against them. Things look bleak. No, make that BLEAK!
“Do you think God can get you out of this situation and into another very good job?” I asked. “Well,” they sighed, their voices trailing off. “I guess. I mean I hope so.”
From my experiences during my husband’s two years of unemployment, I could see that these two wonderful people are losing hope. Their view of their situation is based on what they are seeing. And what they are seeing doesn’t look encouraging. At all. They are giving adversity a lot of power. Adversity - vicious, life-sucking demon that it is - has grabbed hold of them and it is using them.
I say, “Stop that! Right now! Turn your perspective completely around and use your adversity. Don’t be controlled by your adversity. You take control of it!” If you are a believer, then God has already given you the tools for this.
First, do you believe that the Scriptures are true? Or are they lies? Don’t continue until you answer this!
Second, is God a God of His Word? Does He say what He means? Or does God lie?
Third, if you believe that the Scriptures are completely true and that God is a God of His Word and that He means what He says, then your battle with adversity, with unemployment is halfway won!
Let’s take a look at two Scriptures:
This scripture from Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you hope and a future.” Was God lying when He said this? Or, did God truly mean what He said? You see, if you understand that God truly meant these words, then you need to believe it. BELIEVE IT! Don’t just read it. Don’t just say it. BELIEVE IT!
Let’s personalize this verse. For God knows the plans He has for ME, plans to prosper ME and not to harm ME, plans to give ME hope and a future. Friend, God wrote the Scriptures for us, for those times when we are facing adversity and are filled to overflowing with despair. Use the Scriptures as a guidebook to set your thoughts straight, to take control of the adversity you’re facing.
Let’s look at this verse from Psalm 37:24: “When he falls, he will not be thrown down, because the Lord holds his hand.” What should this mean to us, to you? Let’s dissect it. The verse says “when he falls.” Not if he falls, but when he falls. In other words, we can expect to fall at times - as in we can expect to have troubles. Further, when a person falls, “he will not be thrown down.” This means that we won’t be ruined or completely overcome. Why? Because “the Lord holds his hand.” The Lord Himself will hold your hand and keep you from complete ruin.
Now, you either believe this to be true OR you do not. If you believe that all Scriptures are the truth, then substitute your name in this Scripture. When I fall, I will not be thrown down, because the Lord holds my hand.
Next, memorize this verse or one that has great comfort and meaning to you. And when those gut-wrenching doubts, those thoughts that tell you that you are doomed and finished come at you, pull this Scripture out of your memory and use it as a weapon against the defeating thoughts.
If you are a believer, TRUST that God knows exactly where you are, what you are facing and what you fear. You must talk with Him about these things and ask Him to guide you through all of your troubles. Then be open to God’s guidance.
It all comes down to this: do you trust God to keep his promises? Or are you saying that God does not keep His Word?
So, now let me ask you: Is your adversity using you or are you ready to take control?
Is there a topic of unemployment that you want to read about that I have not covered? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. Don’t forget to leave a way for me to contact you if necessary.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good. So you will live in the land and will be fed. Be happy in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart. Give your way over to the Lord. Trust in Him also. And He will do it.” Psalm 37:3-5.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Please remember to pray that our country returns to God. Pray that Godly leaders will be elected.
Cynthia Howerter © 2011