If you’ve ever been to a Christian service, or read the Bible, you might’ve heard the scripture “It rains on the just and the unjust” which always reminds us that sometimes life is just life, hard times come to everyone, and you can be a truly wonderful person and still have struggles, challenges and even crisis in your lifetime that come through no fault of your own.
Last year my husband was laid-off. At first, I thought, oh well, it’ll just be a couple of weeks. He’s a very accomplished Program Manager working for nineteen years for one of the Big 4 Companies in the world. I didn’t lose much sleep in those first couple of weeks. I actually thought it was going to be a nice summer to have dad home to help with the kids for a couple of weeks, as he had been gone a lot for business the previous winter and spring.
As the weeks turned into months though, it became clear that there was no end in sight and we needed to tighten our belts, review our budget even further, and come up with other plans to keep afloat.
As it turns out, he was un-employed for one whole year. If you’d told me at the beginning it was going to be that long, I probably would’ve flipped out on the spot, and gone running nekkid down the streets with tears streaming! Sometimes, like ol’ Garth Brooks says in his song “The Dance” it’s better not to know.
So here’s things, I can now look back on and say with gratitude and a little pride, that we did as a family that helped us not only to get through that year, but also allowed us to come away from it closer than ever.
1. We made nightly dinners together a priority.
2. The oldest kids got afterschool/weekend jobs to help pay for school clothes, books, supplies, and their entertainment.
3. My husband went back to school online, to update/sharpen his skills in his occupation.
4. I also took some classes and got my own business going in an area I always wanted to pursue. I wanted to be a Doula and decided to do whatever it took to become that. Let me just say here that having something to look forward to that I loved was very good for my self-esteem and kept me busy.
5. We spent more time as a family reading and staying physically active. My husband found his abs again at the YMCA working out helped his stress level tremendously.
6. We took people up on offers for dinner parties, luncheons, and other social events to build our spirits and deepen our friendships.
7. My husband had a daily schedule that was built around applying for jobs online, talking to former colleagues (which is what led him to his next job!), networking in the area we lived in, and writing follow-up letters when he did get an interview.
8. We never, never, never fought about money or blame or said words we couldn’t take back. Never.
9. As a family, we counted our blessings out loud every night at the dinner table with the question we all answered to: “What was the best part of your day? and What did you do for someone else today?” We also had family prayer every night. There’s something very valuable when you’re on your knees as a family, expressing gratitude for even the simplest things in life and acknowledging that God is in control of your life, even when you are doing all you can to direct it along.
10. We paid off all of our debts immediately following the lay-off with our savings. That way, when he was employed again, we didn’t have to struggle to catch-up, but could just start from where we were, financially.
We just did the best we could and it paid off in more ways than one. I can say that we earnestly all worked together. My oldest children learned to value money and how hard it is to make it, while they worked after school and on Saturdays. No longer were they interested in keeping up with expensive trends and such.
Prom dresses were bought by their own hard work, and often on clearance racks, if at all. They discovered the difference between a need and a want.
My goal through all of this was to show my children how to effectively get through a rough time, a real trial if you will, with integrity, courage, hard work, faith, humor, and love. There will be trials in their lives, and as a Mother, I wanted to show them a positive way to get through it. We did not fall apart. We were stronger than we started out to be. If you ask my eighteen-year-old Diana, what she learned from this experience, she will tell you, “We grew up.”
As I stated before, quoting the scripture “It rains on the just and the unjust” you don’t have to look very far to see it is raining everywhere. But if you look for them, you will see Rainbows.