Category Archives: faith

One Full Year of Living Life Laid Off

By Mariam Williams

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

one year anniversary calendarfree-printable-calendars.com

It’s not a happy anniversary, but I’m alive, and there’s still hope.  I’m thankful today for the writing opportunities God has given me in the past year.  I’ve gone from having a grand total of zero bylines to having 18 articles published in various print publications and having a regular column. By the end of the year, my publications list will include at least 25 entries.  I’ve put the name “Research Works” on my writing, editing and market research skills, and I’ve managed to convince a few people to let me put those skills to use and write their organization’s newsletters and press releases, come up with a slogan for their business or edit their regular business correspondence.  (I’m a little bitter that growing that into a viable business has been impossible given unemployment compensation’s requirement that I report any money I earn, even if it’s only a few dollars for a few hours in one week, but I’m trying to prove that honesty will get me somewhere.)

I’m thankful and more hopeful than I have been over the past few days, but I’m also admittedly confused as to why God has made so many opportunities for me in a dying field.  Let’s just be honest: print journalism is on life support.  Obviously, I can transfer my skills to online journalism, but the blogosphere is already heavily saturated, and people with more experience than I have get laid off every day.

It’s that looming uncertainty that makes me wonder if I missed something when I decided earlier this year that I wouldn’t take just any job that came along.  Was I supposed to humble myself, go to a temp agency or the Census Bureau and make less than I did at my last job and less than I do on unemployment?  At the eight-month mark, was I supposed to humble myself a little further and apply for a minimum wage job at the Target that’s now reopened right behind my apartment building?  Or was I right to wait?  A year later, is God saying to me, “Wait just a little bit more”?  Or is it time to do something entirely different from the path that I was on even before I began living life laid off?

——————————————

© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

2 Comments

Filed under faith, Lifestyles, Unemployment

Happy Sunday! A quick thought about the Christian stance on universal health care

by Mariam Williams

I recently read this post by Rev. Jim Rigby, Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX, and wrote him the message below to thank him for calling the Christians out on this one. (Those damn communists in the early church …)

If our much revered original apostles were among us today, many Evangelicals would have painted Hitler mustaches across images of their faces and hurled the insult “Socialist!” at them while attending their prayer meetings with guns.  Acts 4:32 says believers shared everything they had.  Acts 4:34-35 says no one was in need because “from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

We have lost sight of that concept today, and your essay had me wondering how the church contributed to the attitude.  Perhaps we didn’t read Acts enough and instead concentrated on our blessings as heirs of Abraham too much?  Maybe we read too much into 2 Thessalonins 3:10 (enlarge my territory) or were so impressed by how God took care of the widow in 2 Kings 4 that we just figured we don’t have to do anything.

Then again, there have always been, and probably will always be, people who do not believe this country is for everyone.  They will be very disappointed that they no longer have anyone to stand on if all the poor die off because we are uninsured.

————————————————

© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, Health, Health Insurance

Living life laid off six months and counting

calendars

by Mariam Williams

Monday was my anniversary.  Six months unemployed, six months to the day.  Monday, October 13, 2008; Monday April 13, 2009.

I almost glazed over it without realizing it.  I didn’t notice the date at all until I wrote it out, “Monday, April 13, 2009,” in the notebook that holds my notes from various sermons and bible studies.  I had been too busy rewriting an essay to be submitted for publication, chasing down another freelance assignment, trying to figure out a balance between making a profit from writing and pricing myself out of the market, and trying to craft my resume to fit the description of yet another job that doesn’t quite fit me but that will do if this goes on much longer.  Thanks to a couple of freelance writing assignments and that severance pay that the state Unemployment Insurance Benefits Department determined was really wages in lieu of notice, I haven’t run out of benefit money yet, but the balance is quite low.  The extension application process is probably next.

I don’t fear the process, though.  My insatiable craving for information and the writing that pours forth from the information I gather occupies so much of my time that I feel busier now than I felt for most of the time that I was working.  The rejection letters don’t sting as much any more.  I can laugh away the sympathetic looks I get from family and friends who remember that I’m on an employment hiatus just after they complain that they dread Mondays, and I might just smile a little bit every time I hear a prayer request for God to deliver someone from the gossip, tattling, backstabbing, politicking, and concrete ceilings on the job.  I’m fine with dining out maybe once a month, when all the food in the house suddenly repulses me, no matter what it is.  Being alone most of the time has never bothered me very much, although I know that’s not good.  I’ve managed to keep myself entertained by seeing 14 plays just since October, and I saw 13 for free.  I ushered at ten of them, and my mom or a friend provided tickets to three others.  Insufficient healthcare coverage still concerns me, but over all, things aren’t so bad.

I didn’t think I would be unemployed for this long.  I hear that the average time for unemployment these days is eight months, but I was sure my situation would be different.  I’m sure that if I went to Starbucks or Wal-Mart or Six Flags it would be, but I still can’t see going for the survival job yet.  I waited so long to get a job in my field, tried so hard to convince an employer that the one consistent trend in the randomness of my resume was the adept use of my written and oral communications skills, that to risk deviating from the path for only God knows how long, putting an even larger gap in my years of direct experience, and possibly getting stuck in something else is too large of a white flag to drape across my back for the moment.

As I write this, I’m looking at the sermon notes from Monday, April 13, 2009 and trying to capture the spirit of the message, but it’s impossible.  There was too much life in the sanctuary that night for pen and paper, or keyboard and monitor.  I remember the preacher describing my very situation: applying for positions you just know are for you and getting turned down; having doors close; following up on leads and connections that go nowhere; getting your hopes up only to be disappointed again and again and again.  I knew he was talking to me, but I didn’t emote the way the rest of the church did when the preacher said that when God moves, he will compensate you for all the suffering you’ve been through.  Nor did I dance or shout when he said that God makes concluding moves–moves that that will end your situation in a way that will never allow you to return to it again.  Nothing really hit me Monday night.  Instead, I woke up with those words in my spirit Tuesday morning and smiled as I thought of how wonderful it would be to be compensated for this blog and to make so much money writing that I never have to return to the unemployment line again.

—————————————————————–

© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

5 Comments

Filed under faith, Lifestyles, Unemployment

Realistic faith while living life laid off

by Mariam Williams

“My faith is the only real thing I have now, but faith doesn’t put bread on the table.”

The pastor of an Episcopalian parish said that Thursday on Oprah.  He and his wife lost their life savings in the stock market, and at 65 years old, they’re not sure if their resources will outlast their lives.

The more righteous among us might ask, “What kind of faith is that?”  I think it’s a realistic one, and it’s a perspective I share.  I thought about my level of faith, or maybe the reality of God’s provision, just hours before seeing the show, as I prayed for forgiveness for taking God’s provision for granted, realizing that I go through many days without even a quick blessing over my food, much less a genuine prayer of thanks for shelter, safety, health, transportation, or even the portion of the stimulus money I guiltily spent on new workout clothes at Target last week.  (While I haven’t quite felt guilty enough to return them-they do fit better than the pants that have gotten so loose no amount of drawstring tightening will keep my underwear from exposure-I’ve been too ashamed to leak my purchase to the blogosphere until now.)

As I made my petition Thursday morning, I felt an entitlement farmer plant a seed in my brain.  “What am I asking forgiveness for?” I thought.  “He’s God, and I’m his child.  He has to provide …”  But before the thought was complete, I recognized its fallacy, and that moment of clarity wasn’t just the Holy Spirit convicting me for the attitude of entitlement that had momentarily replaced my appreciation of grace.

I have a bookmark-a physical one that you use to mark your place in physical books-that directs me to certain scriptures for certain situations.  I guess it’s a biblical GPS for life and emotional breakdowns.  When worried, the bookmark says I should read Matthew 6:19-34.  Loosely summarized, verses 19 through 24 warn that focusing on temporary, material things leads to spiritual blindness, as it’s impossible to devote yourself to both God and money.  In verses 20 through 34, Jesus says not to worry about your life and body when it comes to food and clothes; there’s more to your life and your body than that.  Besides, he continues, God feeds the birds, and flowers are clothed more royally than King Solomon, the wisest, richest king of his time.  Come on, now.  Don’t you think God cares more about you than some flowers?

That scripture would have watered my entitlement seed if Matthew 25:31-46 hadn’t dug it back up.  In this scripture, Jesus talks about the day of final judgment.  He’ll separate the sheep from the goats, congratulating the sheep for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, looking after the sick, and doing other charitable acts, and condemning the goats for not doing any of it.

What does all this have to do with living life laid off?  Simply this: one scripture says don’t worry about food and clothes while the other rewards the people who feed the hungry and clothe the naked.  This means that there will be people-during this recession and forever-who will not be fed like the birds or clothed like the lilies, and I’m absolutely sure that some of those people believe in God just as much as I do.  They may even be the shepherds of a church or parish.

I’m somewhat concerned about the people who will run to houses of worship in the midst of this economic crisis with sincere belief in a genie-god who will make a high-paying job or an unusually sympathetic banker appear.  I’ve been a Christian for nearly 17 years, and although I do believe that God is able to do “immeasurably more than [I] can ask or imagine” and that everything eventually works out for the best, I don’t believe he will always spare me from the worst.  This realistic faith is why I quickly reverted back to my original request: forgiveness for taking God’s provision for granted.  It’s also why I added a request for help to focus on what’s necessary and for a new perspective on wealth and on what’s important in life.

Suze Orman and I were on the same train of thought today.  Later in the show, the pastor on Oprah explained that his “faith in his creator and provider hasn’t wavered a bit,” but the system, the government working for him and people like him?  His faith in that is crushed.  Suze Orman followed his comment by begging the audience-I mean literally getting down on her knees on the Oprah show-to focus on what they have and forget about whatever jobs, riches, homes, or savings they lost.  She said that we’re not judged by how much money we make, a point I will likely debate in a later post, but “by who we are in the face of adversity.”

But just to warn you, we may not be spared from the worst.  At the end of the show, Suze Orman, who was right when she said years ago that we would soon be in this mess, predicted that it will be 2015 before everyone affected by the recession retrieves what was lost and each person’s hope is completely restored.  That means there’s an end in sight and plenty of time to reevaluate our priorities as 12.5 million of us continue living life laid off.

———————————–

See a summary of Suze Orman’s financial advice for the unemployed and everyone else here.

http://www.oprah.com/dated/oprahshow/oprahshow-20090311-suze-orman

————————————–

© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economy, faith, Lifestyles, Mental & Emotional Health, Recession, Unemployment