I remember the day all too well in March of 2011, when my husband received notice from work that his position was being eliminated. For months there had been talk of cut backs and re-organizing roles, but he was assured by his boss and others not to worry, that he was most likely "safe". Little did his boss know that she, along with thirty others, were on the list to be cut, as well.
Dante and I just sat, looking at each other, in such shock.
People all around us had been falling victim to our declining economy. Why were we any more protected than anyone else? Yet, as humans, we live with an ignorance that we are more protected somehow. That "that" (whatever "that" might be) won't happen to us. So when it did, we were frozen in shock. I remember quickly figuring out how long we could float financially and feeling a sense of relief that we could make it the rest of the year. Never did I think we would have to stretch and stretch the way we have, for again, ignorance is bliss and "that" couldn't possibly happen to us.
Dante sat wrestling with the beginnings of emotions that were provoked by the elimination of a position that defined him for so long. He was the provider for our family; his paycheck represented his role as a husband, father, and bread winner. The recognition he received at work validated his intelligence. With that one notice that was all stripped away from him.
As his wife, I battled with the guilt of not bringing in a paycheck. I stepped away from my career as a teacher to stay home with our three young children, as well as support Dante in the advancement of his career, absorbing many of the household duties and chores. I loved our life and the balance that we had created. This notice threatened that balance as well, and stole from me what I ideally wanted for my family.
A year later, I sit here so grateful for God's amazing hand in my life. If my husband had not been laid off from his job, I would not have discovered just how strong my God created me to be. I would not have dug as deep as I have to TRUST in Him, use the skills and work ethic He instilled in me to work to pay our bills, creatively finding ways to make money, stretch a dollar, and humble myself to accept the generosity of others. God showed me that money does not define a person and that in His eyes, we are all His. Dante would not have had this priceless year to spend with our children, being such a presence in their everyday lives. My relationship with my husband would not have reached the depths it has if it had not been tested, stretched, and beaten down. Together we wrestled with our faith and ever so slowly started letting go of our false sense of control over the situation and turned it over to God. We began to really test out our faith and walk blindly, allowing God to lead. Instead of working to have more we began to live to enjoy what we had. Most importantly, I learned to appreciate everything that is truly important in this life and find my real joy in the Lord.
A few weeks ago Dante received a job offer from a company in Ohio. We wrestled with this and its "imperfections", even though in the end, he had little choice but to accept since unemployment can not go on forever. It would mean moving away from our dear friends and family, a church and community that we love, and moving into unknown territory. Yet we have prayed for the Lord to lead us where He wants us, and so often that does not always adhere to the parameters that we, as humans, define.
Maybe this is one more gift that my sweet nephew, Carter, taught me in his short life: God defines the parameters in this life, not man. And when we learn to completely sink into His divine providence and TRUST that He leads us to where He wants us, real joy is discovered.
Our 7 year old son said it best when he responded to the news that we would be moving with, "I am not sad to move, I will make new friends. I am just so happy that God answered our prayers and Daddy has a job!" Wow. How right that little boy is; God has answered our prayers!
So off to Ohio we will head!
I am excited to see what God has in store for us, even though I wrestle with fear of the unknown. About a hundred times a day I have to remind myself that my God is in control, and always has been. When I start panic about selling the house, being apart from my husband until the children and I can move out there, finances, separation from my parents and siblings, or a million other things that find their way into my head, I remind myself to STOP; "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 43:10). I am armed now with the knowledge that change, discomfort, pain; they all GROW you. That alone, my friends, is exciting stuff.
So grow me, my Lord! I am all yours.