It was a warm sunny day in Disneyworld and we were like sponges as we soaked up every morsel of fun, paradise, and relaxation. I took hundreds of photos and numerous videos so I could relive my respite and find that peace again in the future. But as the day wore on, home loomed and storm clouds were closing in fast. My husband Russ’ job of 15 years was coming to an end.

I dreaded driving away from my paradise because I knew we were headed into the dark. As we got closer to home and further away from our respite, my fear and anxiety grew.

My husband had this great job and we had a familiar routine. Routines are comfortable and safe. He had a great salary with generous yearly raises, but in two months, it would all be over. Though we spent most of those 15 years living a pretty good lifestyle, we were struggling to get out of debt. Finally, we managed and actually put away some money in savings. In addition, I had a very small IRA. Foreseeing this job layoff, we started whittling our expenses to our very basic needs. You would be surprised what you can live without in this speeding age of technology and service. Cable was one of the first things to go and I was a tv-aholic. We also cut back on our lawn services and changed our ‘Cadillac’ phone plan to a no-frills cheaper one.

Our savings dwindled to nothing which increased my fears and visions of homelessness.

When my husband did lose his job, we lived off his severance, our savings and unemployment insurance. As the money dried up, our savings dwindled to nothing which increased my fears and visions of homelessness. It terrified me and invaded my dreams and sleep. We cashed in my small IRA. Unfortunately there were no more funds to draw from other than my small weekly paycheck. As our finances plummeted, so did my attitude and hope.

I would also stop and think about my husband sitting at home, applying for numerous jobs daily and feeling useless. I am so grateful he had his scout troop. Being a volunteer gave him purpose and meaning. Despite his lack of income, he was still able to help others.

Nevertheless, he would sometimes would doubt his ability and downplay his many years of experience. It was easy for us to create mental monsters although I won that contest hands down. We all have the ability to imagine the worst scenarios. It is so easy for us to picture everything going wrong but all we end up expending a lot of wasted energy that can be used toward imagining everything going right! We learned to remember to breathe and take it step by step.

My husband tried valiantly to shield me from his anxiety, but it slipped out. If I was stressed, it would upset him and if he was stressed, my stress level would go up. In hindsight I realize that at times like this, it is imperative to lift each other up and fight the battle together and draw on each other’s strength, but for whatever reason, I withdrew and sought solace in isolation. When I saw my husband’s pain, I just crumbled. This was not the most helpful response! In retrospect (always so easy) we should have drawn on each other’s strength and tried harder to help each other.

My first thought each morning was hopelessness. I awoke with a sick and nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach.

For 365 days, I rarely slept through the night. When I did sleep, I woke at 5am then struggled to go back to sleep. My first thought each morning was hopelessness. I awoke with a sick and nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach and when I tried to shake the emptiness engulfing me and I wearily stepped into the shower, I leaned my head down against the wall and bawled like a baby, hoping my husband would not hear my crying or know my anguish through my almost endless tsunami of tears. If my friend had not been texting me a bible verse every morning at 6:30 am; I am not sure how I would’ve gotten through my day.

Although it wasn’t as simple as it sounds, I allowed myself to lean on my friends. They were my support and helped keep me afloat. They listened and helped me see things in a more positive light. They reminded me how valuable I am to the world and reaffirmed my goodness. I laughed and cried got a hug or two when needed. (If your friend offers to treat you for coffee, accept, and when you can, you can treat them.)

Weekly, our friends asked us what we needed for food and supplies and we often mysteriously found grocery gift cards in our mailbox and groceries on our doorstep (we never discovered their identities). What an incredible act of charity to give while knowing you won’t receive any credit!

When mystery angels left bags of fresh fruits and vegetables on our porch, I sobbed from the intense joy of receiving all this delicious and healthy food. But intermixed was the uncomfortable feeling of receiving and being in the position of needing. It took me months to understand that these angels were holding us up, slowing my descension into the pit and even pulling me up from time to time. There is no shame in taking and lessons to be learned about receiving graciously.

When you think that no help is forthcoming from the Creator but you believe He has a plan, maybe you are missing all the ‘signs’ that He is actually there with you. Although I don’t have what I want at the moment, maybe He is giving me something else that is sustaining me and giving me hope.

The incredible support we received from our friends – including invitations to stay with them if God forbid we were to lose our home – gave us much needed comfort that made it easier to have trust and faith that everything will be okay. I slowly began to realize there was a safety net in that pit.

Our community and friends refused to allow us to fall. No matter what happened, no matter how bad it got, we were not alone in this fight.

As the challenges continued, along with my fear of homelessness, my friends’ support did not let up. I witnessed how our community and friends refused to allow us to fall. No matter what happened, no matter how bad it got, we were not alone in this fight. That’s when my faith started to grow. God does care about us. He has not been silent.  He put us here, in this place for a reason.

I got into the bad habit of seeing myself as weak and alone when really I was drawing on my strengths and the Almighty was right there alongside us, holding my hand and teaching me invaluable lessons about the importance of volunteer work, sharing the pain in our marriages, friendship, community, giving and taking, faith and trust and the power of hope.

Thank God, my husband found a job three months ago, about the same time I lost mine! But this time around, I have a new attitude. I am currently seeking the next job opportunity that God has planned for me. We are working on rebuilding our savings and when we go grocery shopping, we donate to the food bank. 

Although I am now unemployed, I know that God has a plan and I trust Him. I do my part and relax and know that He is doing His.