Blessed transition.

Today I realized that several of my friends are in need of encouragement in the midst of transition, mainly changes with their husbands’ jobs. Our family was right smack in the middle of this same situation this time last year, and my heart goes out to those who are feeling overwhelmed right now. I’d love to share how we have made it through in hopes that our story may bring others a little hope.

My husband was unemployed for almost four months after being let go for what we felt was an unjust, undeserved reason. He was accused of something he didn’t do (and could even prove he didn’t do!), and we got nowhere trying to refute it. He was disqualified for unemployment assistance, and he had no good reason to give during interviews when asked why he left his previous job, so he missed out on several full- and part-time openings. He did end up with a new job that has been a great opportunity, but it is half the pay of his previous position and offers no benefits. We’d just bought a house, and I was pregnant with our pleasant surprise, Riley. We were FREAKING OUT!

Our situation also raised the question from onlookers of why I was not looking for a full-time job. Actually, I was. But the decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom was never about finances; I stayed home not because we could afford it, but because we felt it fit God’s vision for our family. We had to choose to be obedient and trust God to bless our obedience and to provide. And even if our decision were about finances, logistically it still made more sense for me to stay at home. Nevertheless, I did look for a job, knowing it wasn’t what was best for our family. Even jobs I was highly qualified for were dead ends. I found part-time work, which was short-lived because I kept blacking out at work due to a difficult pregnancy. God was making it clear that me working was not the answer, as much as my human nature felt an urgency to jump in and help out.

This time in our lives has been a true test of our faith in God—faith that He is Who He says He is, that He will come through for us, that His timing is perfect, that He’d provide/redeem/restore, etc. I’d love to say I’m a spontaneous person, but I’m not. I’m the ultimate planner, and I thought I was going to lose my mind not being able to see two feet in front of my face. So here are a few of the tough lessons I’ve had to learn and truths that have gotten me through (and are still getting me through!):

  • Remind yourself of what you know: God is sovereign. His heart toward His children is good. He can do anything, at any time; His supply is limitless. His economy is perfect. He WILL NOT fail you. Repeat as needed. 
  • Don’t make decisions out of fear that God will not come through. For us, we knew that I was to remain at home, and we knew that we were supposed to stay in Birmingham. Regardless of outside pressure to compromise on either of those points, we knew what God’s will was for us in those two areas, and we had to decide not to compromise out of fear that God wouldn’t provide. Don’t take a job that is not a good situation because you’re afraid you have no choice. Don’t pass up an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else because you’re afraid to spend any resources you think might be limited. God’s resources are limitless, and you have access to them through Jesus. He WANTS to come through for you. He takes great pleasure in swooping in at the last minute, in the last hour, and being the Hero none can compete with. Trust Him, and refuse to let fear be your motivation for your actions.
  • Be sensitive to what the Lord is trying to do in your heart. For us, it has been learning to let go of our plans and our need for control. It’s about learning to be present and living in the meantime. It’s been learning Who God really is to us, and what relying on Him for everything really looks like. And it’s been learning what really matters: people. Other people. Not things. Not our own materialistic and even shallow desires. But loving God’s people and building relationships. And a whole mess of other stuff. Boy, do we have a lot to learn! Learn all that He wants you to learn during times when your faith is being tested. 
  • Take one day at a time. Often, I got so overwhelmed when I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel that I just didn’t want to get out of bed most mornings. I thought I was going to drown in my woes. I would constantly ask, when will this end? It still hasn’t, really. I wish I could share some miraculous, happy ending to our story right now. But it’s not over yet. Our struggles have actually intensified, but our ability to have peace in the storm has grown immensely. I’ve even learned to laugh when the next trial comes our way (or when a piece of my car randomly falls off while driving down the interstate!). 
  • Learn to lean on others. Ooh, this is a doozy! My husband and I love to be the ones helping others. It’s a frustrating place to be to have to accept help from others, to sometimes feel like we have nothing to give. But every vessel that is willing to be emptied has to be refilled at some point. I guess this is our refill. And we both could use a little lesson in humility, too.
  • Lift up one another. Wow, is this one tough! Ladies, let me tell you (sadly, from experience) that emasculating your husband does no one any good. As strong as I thought I was, there were times where I micromanaged and browbeat my better half, who in my opinion wasn’t doing enough to find employment. In my mind, there would be no rest for the weary until there was a paycheck coming in. I’m embarrassed to say, at times I treated him like a child, nagging him like I was his mother (who, ironically, is not a nag at all). The reality is no one could make him feel worse or more like a failure than he already did. But what he really needed, more than he needed me to “fix things,” was for me to pray for him, uplift him, serve him, encourage him, and by all means, to straighten the bedcovers, not curl up under them! I am learning to speak to the man he has the potential to be. This is the time for us to be each other’s biggest fan, to be teammates…not to partner with the Accuser to tear one another down. 
  • Learn to rest. One of my mentors told me that when I work, God rests. But when I rest, God works. First, I had to learn what rest looked like. (It looks a little more like peace and less like passivity.) Then I had to learn how to keep myself from getting in God’s way, from acting like I knew best…or really, from playing God. I have had to learn how to be still and know that He is God, and to wait on Him to work things out. In His timing, not mine. Ouch. 
  • Practice thankfulness. Man. Not having much actually makes me realize how much I really do have. I am so blessed; I feel like I really have nothing to complain about. One thing that has helped me keep my head from falling off during this time is to open my eyes to all the reasons I should be thankful. I've developed a genuine appreciation for what I do have and have learned to see the true beauty in how God has blessed me. Every time my baby smiles at me or my toddler attacks me with wet kisses, I feel like my heart will burst. When I tackle the piles of laundry, I'm so humbled to have such wonderful friends who have blessed us with box after box of gently worn children's clothes. When I plan my grocery shopping, I'm thankful that I can catch some great sales at the grocery store. When we're down to one car and the kids and I are stuck at home, I am amazed at how God has enabled us to own a home that is perfect for what we need. Thankfulness has kept my heart from growing resentful. 
  • Learn to be resourceful. Recently, I found a bunch of leftover paint from when we lived in our rental house. I was in a painting mood, so I used it to paint the hallways in our home. It turned out to be just the right shade! We had a no-spend month earlier this year where we enjoyed meals the whole month from what I cleaned out of our pantry and freezer. I've also gotten a little crafty and used scrap materials that were laying around the house to decorate with or to plan activities for Liam. It's amazing what resources are at your disposal when you stop to take a look around! 
  • Don't worry. Worrying does us no good. I spent so much of my precious-little energy during my pregnancy worrying about what our future would look like. Surprisingly, it didn't get anything done. Worrying didn't pay the bills. It didn't provide health insurance. It didn't cause a plan to magically appear. It just tied me up in knots and kept our home in a state of anxiety. Read Matthew 6: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." 
Even as I type this, I’m realizing I still have so much to learn during this process. And even though I’m in a hurry to get to the other side, God has all the time in the world. He will take as long as it takes to refine me in fire and make me more like Him. That’s His priority. The bills aren’t a problem for Him; He’s more concerned with my heart than I am about our debts. 
If you didn’t completely block out eighth grade chemistry, you may remember that in science, there are physical changes and chemical changes. Physical changes happen when the physical properties of a substance are changed; they can always change back. But chemical changes transform an object’s chemical makeup; they are forever changed from the inside out. My husband and I shared with each other last night that we honestly don’t feel like life will ever go back to “normal” for us. There has been a chemical change in all of this. At the end of this phase we’re in, there will be a new normal, and we will never be the same. And I’m kind of looking forward to it. 
In fact, I'm counting on it.