It’s been over a year now that I’ve been unemployed and I am so thankful. (To clarify, I’m not technically unemployed. I work retail part-time. I just refer to myself as unemployed because I’m not currently working in the field I was trained to work in. All of my current struggles relate to someone who is unemployed. So it’s just the easiest way to define my current circumstance.) Is it strange to hear that I am thankful for unemployment? Well, it should. Because, unemployment has been tough!! It has been rough! There have been lots of lows! But, I know that it is God’s way of refining me. And man…the Refiner’s Fire… it is hot and it can burn!
I’m still alive! Honestly, when I was first laid off a year ago, I was moderately optimistic. I knew it was God’s perfect timing for me to get laid off when I did. I trusted he would provide me with the right job at the right time. But… I really didn’t think the “right time,” would be more than 6-9 months! At around 6 months, I remember asking God to please provide a job before my 1 year anniversary. I told him, I would just about die if I was still unemployed at 1 year. I thought my pride couldn’t take the hit, and I asked him to spare me that pain. But, my 1 year anniversary rolled around and I didn’t die! I am still here! Life goes on!
Recently, I started reviewing the study Experiencing God by Henry & Richard Blackaby. (If you haven’t done it, you should. It’s amazing!) I have gone through the study before, but picked it up one day and started going through it again. One lesson in particular stood out to me and I think it has given me a clearer perspective on this season in my life.
“I will make your name great.” -Genesis 12:2. This verse really means, “I will develop your character to match your assignment.”
I don’t know what God has planned for me, but He knows. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10. More importantly, He knows what it will take to prepare me for the things He has planned. Would Abraham have been able father a nation if he wasn’t first faithful in leaving his homeland? Would Joseph have been able to help the Israelites when they were enduring a famine if he had not been sold into slavery in Egypt? Would Moses have been able to trust God and split the Red Sea if he did not first obey God in talking to the Israelites and then confronting Pharaoh, even though he didn’t have the speech skills or credibility? None of these leaders necessarily wanted the task given to them. They didn’t have a plan for what was going to happen. They probably wanted fairly ordinary lives. But…God had something bigger planned for their lives, and in order to get them there, he had to prepare their character. That character preparation didn’t necessarily look the way they wanted it to look…but God knew exactly what needed to happen in order to get their character in shape for their future job.
Unemployment Lessons in Character Development
During this season of unemployment…Sometimes I refer to this season as life in the wilderness… I can see how God is developing my character. Here are just some of the lessons he has revealed to me.
- I didn’t earn anything. God gives me everything I have including my job. I didn’t earn my job. It’s not because of all my degrees that I got my previous job. At the end of the day, God is the provider of all things, including my job. It is not based on my own work.
- God really does provide! He has provided everything my husband and I need to survive. We have never gone hungry. It is really crazy the ways he has provided. I’ll have to write a separate post on that!
- I don’t need approval from people. My identity is in Christ. It doesn’t matter if people think I’m a total loser because I have my degrees, but I’m working at a department store. So what? This is where God has me, and my value is in Him.
- People pleasing is really the same as the fear of man. When I have the fear of man, I care way too much about other people’s opinion of me, and not enough of what God thinks of me.
- My identity is not in my performance. Even if I fail, my identity and worth are in Christ. *This lesson has been ongoing for the last 2 years, and it’s a big one! Growing up Asian… I’ve pretty much been told that my identity and worth are in my performance.
- My procrastination is really perfectionism, which is really fear of failure. This is a problem because it prevents me from trying new things, taking risks, and trusting God.
- Fear is not from God. He gives me a spirt of love, power, and self-control.
- Pride. I wanted to hold on to my pride. God doesn’t want that. I’m more moldable without it.
Thankful for Unemployment
I know it’s crazy to say I’m thankful to be unemployed. But man…I can see clearly how much God loves me. And, I really see how he is preparing me for my next assignment. All of the lessons I’ve learned so far… they were revealed to me because I am unemployed. If I were working…these things would never come up. I wouldn’t think about issues of pride because I would be content. I wouldn’t think of God as my provider, because I would think I bought everything with my hard earned money. There are so many things God has made crystal clear to me during this season of unemployment. I am so thankful that God would choose to reveal these truths to me at this point in my life. I know I am blessed. It is hard to be unemployed, but I know this is important preparation time for what is to come. The lessons he has revealed…they reveal himself. Through this season of unemployment, I get to experience God. He is the treasure, he is my very great reward! And wow, he loves me so much to reveal himself to me! So, my unemployment is not a waste. It’s actually a really important time in my life that God is using for my good and his glory.