I have been taking the time to purposefully be thankful this fall. In September, when Rob’s job ended unexpectedly, we were both cast into a daze–stunned by the news that, after almost 19 years, he was no longer wanted. After a couple of weeks of wandering aimlessly around on auto-pilot, unable to focus, unable to do anything buy cry, I realized I was going to have to be purposeful in how I handled this. The situation was not going to change.
Because of Rob’s job as a children and family pastor, both of our lives, plus the lives of our children, were unusually intertwined with his job. We spent countless hours at the church, volunteering in the childrens’ department, on worship team, going to events such as retreats, youth group activities, Bible classes, small groups, etc. So, when his job was suddenly over, we no longer had a church home as well as no income. Both of those things were extremely significant to us. Our children had known no other church and felt loved and nurtured by the people there. The very people we would usually turn to for love and support were suddenly not as available to us. We literally had no place to attend church on Sunday anymore. It was a big blow.
The reason given for his dismissal was that, when they hired a consulting firm to analyze the church, they wanted to go in a different direction, and Rob did not fit that direction. He had done nothing wrong. It was “just business.” Ouch. There was not one chance for him to fix anything they did not like, make any changes they might want–nothing. Just go. So, with tears streaming down our faces, we packed his office, and went. We were given a severance package after a week on pins and needles, wondering what we were going to get, if anything.
I decided then and there that I did not want to become a bitter old woman, spending the rest of my life in anger, bitterness, or fear of the future. I want to live today with peace, happiness, and contentment. It was going to take work. My plan was to count the blessings I did have, pray a lot, and try to stay upbeat about all of this. Clearly, we needed to figure out things financially as well. It was not the worst thing that had ever happened to me, I reminded myself, but it was right up there. We both felt blind-sighted, betrayed by those we had considered our friends, anxious and upset.
To make things even more stressful, we are in the middle of an adoption (our 8th) and it is not final. You are supposed to be able to support children you are adopting, and now Rob has no job. My small, part-time piano teaching business does not cover our bills. Also, he has had back trouble for quite a few years, and is in the middle of analysis by the doctors, trying to figure out how to fix this problem. We will find out soon if he is facing surgery. He cannot just go get a physical job as he would have done when he was younger to fill in the gaps.
We sat down several times over the past few weeks and talked things over. We counted our money and other resources. We looked at our housing situation, our cars, our location, our children’s needs, everything we had and needed. We are examining what Rob wants to do next. We are still working out a plan. We have many ideas, but, after much prayer, have concluded that right now we need to wait and not plunge into any big decisions. We are making progress, though, in our decision-making. We need some time to heal emotionally, and are taking that. We have been advised to treat this as a death, and not do anything major, like sell our home, for a while.
Thankfulness is a big key. I’ve been trying each day to find things to be thankful for, despite our circumstances. There are many. I have had no trouble finding them, when I take the time to look.
- I am thankful for our family. From the first day of Rob’s job loss, they have been there for us. Different family members have called, offered support, given us money and gift cards, cards and texts with words of encouragement, came and sat with us, helped clean out Rob’s office, let us cry and talk to them, prayed for us without ceasing, taken us on vacation, done heavy jobs since Rob’s back is so bad right now, and many other things.
- I am thankful for the many, many people who have given us support from the church. We have received many phone calls, cards, texts and emails showing their love to us. Many of the congregation did not make this decision at church, only about 3-5 people did, so many people have been shocked, upset and appalled. Most of them continue to attend that church, we have been very verbal with them that we don’t want them to quit; it would serve no purpose to have people quit going to church because they are upset. Hopefully, things will get better for them there. If it doesn’t, what they do needs to be their decision, independent of what happened to Rob.
- I am thankful to the many friends outside of the church that have pulled through for us. They have shown their support in many ways, both physical (everything from someone fixing our furnace to the dentist giving us an extremely reduced rate on our dental check-ups and more), and mental (prayers, cards, kind words, etc.)
- I am thankful that we are ok financially for a while. Between the severance package and some logging we had done, we have a little while to think. We have a huge stockpile of groceries because I can and freeze so much garden produce, Rob raises meat, and we buy things in bulk and on sale. We have filled in some gaps in our storage over the last few weeks and am now going to work on using up some of the stockpile, and saving the money that would have been spent. We have good insurance for a while, so are getting as much done as we can while still on that.
- I am thankful that we have each other. Together, we can get through.
- I am thankful that God is not dead. People disappoint, but He never does.
This coming up week will be a busy one. I am going to enjoy spending time with our nieces and nephew. We are going to watch Patsy be a pig in a little 10-minute play at school. Family with gather on Thursday and we will celebrate Thanksgiving. I am going to enjoy this week and continue to count my blessings. They are many.