Job loss was one of the most challenging circumstances I could imagine in my adult life. I don’t do well with uncertainty or being out of control, and this was the ultimate undesirable of both those things. Furthermore, my imagination ran wild. How would we eat? What if we lost our home? What if we have to move and my kids have to change schools? What if we never find income to replace the previous level of income? The negative what-ifs loomed much bigger than the opportunities.
I’m writing this because the worst happened and my family survived. And in some ways, we thrived. As cliche as it sounds, unexpected job loss shaped my outlook for the better. Here are some of the unwelcome lessons of job loss.
1. The important things in life really aren’t things
Yes, you need money to live. Yes, the money adds a convenience factor. Yes, not having an income source meant saying no to friends and my kids more often. No, it did not define what was valuable in our lives. We still had each other. We could still play board games or watch our favorite movies. We could still see our friends and family. In fact, not having an income source helped us focus on all the things that we DO have.
In that season of uncertainty, we made more playdates and used the toys we had at home more. I appreciated the value of youth sports and having fun rhythms in our daily schedule. I felt blessed to have food at home to prepare for the family. I meal-planned like a boss.
If you are facing job loss, you have the gift of perspective.
2. The Unexpected Provision
Losing income helped me to remember frugal habits long lost in the busyness of life. I distinctly remember the first weekend after the job loss that Fareway had boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.49 a pound. I went back multiple times to get the 10 lbs allowed. That chicken lasted us for 6 months- long after a new job was found. I was so grateful for the sale, and it was so easy to see God providing for our family in new ways. Ways that are often obscured by relative prosperity.
If you are facing job loss, you have the gift of being in need and of gratitude.
3. You never really know what others are facing
During this season, we met so many who had also gone through similar things. We bonded in new ways with our community. Because money suddenly felt tight, I also paid way more attention to those who may not have as much as we do. I had a whole other way of including people and making sure that all had access to events and community. Generosity meant so much more.
If you are facing job loss, you have the gift of seeing those in need.
4. Job Loss makes room for opportunity
Whenever we are forced to part with something, we wanted there is space left behind. It is easy to focus on what was lost, but it is important to remember that there is room for something new and beautiful to bloom. This was certainly true for us. We wouldn’t have chosen the path, but when on it, we became open to possibilities we were closed to when we were comfortable. There is a gift in dreaming and in pursuing something new. Yes, you are vulnerable, and yes, it could go badly. But it could also open the door to good you didn’t know you needed. In our case, the new job ended up being much better than what was lost and clarified career goals.
If you are facing job loss, you have the gift of a fresh start.