Today, as I was browsing my blog site and trying to figure out why there is a glitch in my right column of the home page, I glanced up and saw the title of my blog.
The thing is, I didn’t read ShelleyJo’s Lifebeat. What I read was ShelleyJo’s Lifeboat!
Have you ever had a moment like this, where something is so clear, but you read it wrong? I do it quite regularly.
But this time, it hit me right in my center. While I was giggling at what I had “read”, it seemed to sink right in like it was saying, “Yes, this is true!”
So, I thought about it, and realized that this is where I have been for 3 full years this June 19th.
I decided it is time to blog on how being laid off from work impacted my life, or at least to share a bit of it.
I was going to share on this on the 19th, like an anniversary post. But I didn’t know where to begin, or even what a title would be. Tonight, I have it.
As those of you who know me, or read my posts much will know, I believe in God. I believe in a way that makes me want to live my faith as well as I can each day. It is a mission of mine.
I even think of how exciting it must be for God as He creates and uses amazing colors and textures and depth. I want to do that, too. To be like Him.
Speaking of faith, what good is faith if it is only words? If your faith is not real or lasting when something rocks you, or shakes your world, why bother ?
The interesting thing I have found, living in my country and state, is that people will make remarks and put you to tests if you are one who believes in God. It is like they have an idea of what that means and must test it to see if they are right or not. They will encourage you to live against your faith, then ridicule or reject you if you don’t. Like you don’t care about them if you don’t join them.
The flip side of all of this is that if a person who is known to be a Christian does do any of the things they seem to want, then suddenly you are judged as not being genuine! You have become a hypocrite in their eyes. Also, if you can’t be strong and seem to blaze the way in strength and health every moment, then where is your God?
So, you can be bugged or judged no matter what you do.
This used to break my heart, and I couldn’t understand it. Now, I just realize that people aren’t always comfortable with someone who is different, and I don’t need to worry what they think.
I just need to be genuine and love them where they are, but true to who I really am.
I began to think if you say no, then perhaps they felt rejected or judged. Rather than the reality, which is that you just don’t feel comfortable in some environments, or don’t belong there. I began to say “no, thank you, but thank you so much for thinking of me and including me! I like you, too!” Because, that is the truth.
There are many people in my life that I feel very fond of, and care for deeply. I just don’t mesh well with some parts of their lives, and they wouldn’t feel at home in some parts of my life.
Over the years, I have opened little groups or gatherings to include anyone who wanted to come, without respect to beliefs or race, politics, size, gender, or anything else. I have facilitated craft groups, groups of varying types of journaling, book clubs, and various arts or crafts.
I am not great at any of these things, but as I learn something new, I love to share it with anyone who is interested. I also have had prayer or Bible study groups, too, but separate from these other things.
This way, we can all feel comfortable and be friends without having to be just like each other. We can be individuals with various opinions and be fine with each other. For about 4-5 years, I just wasn’t up for any of this. I just couldn’t pull-it-up.
I was in one field of work for 14 years, and that was to be a Nurse’s Aid in varying capacities (facilities for elderly, hospitals, home health care). Then, for 22 years I worked for a same company, working with Developmentally Disabled Adults. I worked in behavioral management (for those who need to learn how to behave socially) and also drove a 19 passenger bus through the county to bring them to work and take them home.
I LOVED my job!!! I really did. I enjoyed the people, and included them in my life as much as I could.
The problem for me is that I invest 100% of myself spirit, soul and body.
It wasn’t just a job. I loved the people I served, and also the ones who were staff. I trained most new staff in my department for those years, and so had them in a small space with me for a while. I also had various partners, like a revolving door.
I did all I could to pour out love and acceptance to anyone in my space. I asked about their lives because I really wanted to know. I don’t say this to blow my own horn. I say it because I really did want to walk in love and tried to every day.
Over the years, the ones who seemed to judge me the harshest were having some health issues and would end up in my bus for a few months at a time. I just let them lead the conversation and set the pace for us to know each other. One by one, they realized they hadn’t known me at all. And, sometimes I realized I hadn’t known them, either.
So, when I was suddenly laid off because of cut-backs in the company, I felt loss. A great loss.
It was a huge hole in me that nothing seemed to fill or heal.
I had already felt like change was coming for over a year before this. I went to the Employment office and took classes on writing resumes and on interviewing for jobs. I put applications out in a variety of jobs, thinking God was making me feel restless so that I would be willing to leave such a love of a job. I worked and prayed for over a year to find something and to be ready.
But, it didn’t happen.
I was cut, and for the first time in my adult life, I didn’t have a job.
I thought I was mentally ready, but this was something different. I wasn’t moving to another job, and then resigning, as I always had before. I was free-floating.
And, I was ill. I had been for years. But with a job, I had a schedule and a reason to push myself harder than I thought I could. I had people to love and enjoy.
Even with unemployment checks, I couldn’t afford the health insurance so I dropped it.
My health radically went downhill. Diabetes went to extreme conditions and neuropathy increased. Other issues made themselves known as well.
I was suddenly in a world I didn’t know, one that I had no idea what to do with.
Except for one thing. The most important thing. Faith. Relationship with the Love of my life, God.
My unemployment lasted 2 years out of the 3, but at times it went 5-9 weeks between checks. And then it was over. No expected income except my husband’s check, which is $40 a month over the amount we pay for rent. I tried and tried all of this time to get a job, anything.
I also applied for disability because I began to fall regularly and had to limit how much I was safe to drive. But, I still applied for jobs, praying for God to give me favor and to rise me up again. That is what we should do, right? I felt like I was trying to push a locked, thick iron door. It didn’t budge. Hmmm.
So far, nothing in sight. No job, no disability approval yet.
But, here is the thing that is so amazing!
God gave my sister (http://binkysbaubles.wordpress.com/) a word one year. “Get in the boat with Jesus.” She just thought, uh-hmm. But later that year, a stranger gave her the word when praying over her, “Stay in the boat!” So, she got it!
When all of this set in motion, I had these words running through my head a lot, “Get in the boat with Jesus and stay in the boat until He gets out. When He gets out and starts walking, get out and walk with Him, on sea or on land.”
I said, “Okay, Lord. Teach me how to do this! All I know is, get a job, go to work, earn your money, do well, be loyal, faithful, timely, reliable, walk in love-God will honor this. So, what to do? … … … Get in the boat! Get in the lifeboat!