Article Nov 26, 2013

Unemployed at Thanksgiving

I know the job search blues, that feeling of hopelessness and despair when you work so hard at your job search, sending out countless resumes, going on interview after interview but still no job offer. You ask yourself, “Will I ever land a job? “

I was unemployed last Thanksgiving. I recall vividly having those feelings of awkwardness when meeting with friends and relatives over the holidays. People wonder if they should ask you about your job search and how you are doing. They figure that you would bring it up if you wanted to talk about it. If people hear that you lost your job, some say, “That’s a shame.”

However, it is important to know that the majority of those who are unemployed have nothing to feel ashamed about. In many cases, there was a reduction in force due to the economy, and there are many who were “let go” who were very good employees. It is important for those who are unemployed to not feel ashamed. When I run job groups, I ask people to introduce themselves and tell others their occupation. One person replied that her occupation is unemployed. “Unemployed” is not her occupation. She still has the same education, skills and experience as before. No one can take that away from her.  She can still feel proud of her past accomplishments and experience and not let what just happened to her overtake those many positive past experiences.

The holidays are a wonderful time to network with family and friends. Networking is all about building relationships for mutual benefit. If you have a friend who is unemployed, a word of advice is to sincerely offer to pray with him or her and also to connect them to those you know for networking purposes. A few good friends offered to do this for me and it was greatly appreciated. It is equally important for those who are unemployed to realize that their family and friends are also going through their own trials as well.  Be willing to ask others how you can pray for them too.  Although they may not be unemployed, they also have problems, i.e. experiencing health issues, relationship issues, etc. The mutual support of one another goes along way in navigating the challenges of life.

How to beat the job search blues? Don’t do it alone. Get support. Develop job search skills by joining a job search group.  Get a career coach.  Get a job search buddy.  Ask a few friends if they would be willing to pray for you regularly. Enhance your skills. Join a professional association. Network. Volunteer. Apply to jobs online. Get an internship. Take classes. Become a consultant. Stay focused and persevere. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

However, the ultimate way to beat the job search blues is to remember that as Christians we have our identity grounded in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are unconditionally loved by the God of the universe. His love for us is not dependent on our performance or employment status. Our security and significance are in Christ, not in our occupation. I am secure in His love (Romans 8:35-39); I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).

We are Christians first and then whatever occupation second. This is so countercultural. Maybe I believed this in my mind but I struggled to believe these biblical truths in my heart. When I daily prayed and meditated on the Scriptures and asked God to help my unbelief, he changed my heart. This gave me tremendous confidence to trust him going forward through all the uncertainty. Our hope and confidence is in Christ. God is always faithful. This makes all the difference.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Of course, I was not thankful for my joblessness, but I was able to give thanks in my circumstances because I have a God who loves and cares for me, provides for me, walks with me, and will carry me through all my circumstances. I encourage you to spend some time journaling all the reasons why you are thankful. This alone can lift your spirits and cure you of the job search blues.

ERLC2018