Unemployment: My Own Personal Recession

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been some great, thought-provoking discussions here at BCC about women’s issues in the workplace. Implicit in all of these posts, and the resulting comment threads, is a question about how Mormon doctrine and culture influence the way women in the Church balance parental and employment obligations. These topics need far more attention and serious discussion–in society generally, but also in the Church, and especially in our individual homes. However, while the number and magnitude of difficult issues may or may not be distributed evenly across gender lines, recent events in my life have caused me to give more and more consideration to the impact that those same doctrines and cultural elements have on men in the Church.

Three Tarrying Nephites, by Matthew Page

Three Tarrying Nephites, by Matthew Page


Over the the past few months, many men I know have lost their jobs. It seems that rarely does a week go by without news that another person from the ward was laid off. Witnessing this has left me with a form of survivor’s guilt for my own good fortune in having a secure job I enjoy, great coworkers, and increasing opportunities for growth. This feeling is magnified by the fact that some of the people who have lost their jobs are dear to me–more so than they could possibly know–because they rallied around me and buoyed my spirits two years ago when I was faced with unemployment and in dire need of help for my family. The time I spent without a job was the worst stretch of my life. Now, nearly two years later, I think I can finally say I’m grateful for that nightmare of a year that was 2007, but I’m still not entirely recovered from the detrimental impact it had on my spirituality, self-confidence, and ability to communicate with God.

No two people experience unemployment in the exact same way; accordingly, I don’t expect that my experiences will resonate perfectly with everyone. However, I have noticed some themes that may be common to anyone dealing with unemployment, and I think they are worth discussing.

Pressure to Provide
First, in the Mormon culture, there is a large amount of pressure placed on women to be the primary caretakers and nurturers for their children. Whether this is good or fair is not my point–rather, my point is that the other side of this coin is that there is a tremendous amount of cultural pressure on men to be the primary “providers” for their families. While I’ve always been aware of this mentality on some level, I had no idea how deeply it was imprinted on my mind until I woke up one day and discovered to my horror and embarrassment that I was failing miserably. I had no job, no paycheck, and no prospects. In my shallow and shaky mind, this was enough to convince myself that I had unforgivably let down my wife and child, who had put their trust and confidence in me and in my abilities to provide them with everything they need. The effect this realization had on my self-esteem as a man and as a priesthood holder was frightening. Every talk in church meetings that dealt with families induced pain and guilt for me, because I had entirely convinced myself–rightly or wrongly–that I was a failure. I became emotionally withdrawn, and, while I did my best to present a courageous and cheerful attitude in public, the truth was that my heart and spirit were as broken as our bank account.

Ironically, while I have always encouraged my wife to explore any employment opportunities she desires (she is a professional photographer), the handful of photo gigs she got during this time period served to exacerbate my feelings of failure: Not only was I not taking care of my family, but my wife, who had made the choice not to work so she could be with our baby son, was now being forced out of that decision in order to help pay the bills while I sat at home filling out worthless job applications and writing never-to-be-read cover letters. I was, and am, forever grateful for those people and their recognition of my wife’s and my desire to work for aid, but it was still a difficult pill for me to swallow at the time.

Confidence in Communing with God
A second theme I’ve seen in my own life and in those around me who are facing job loss is a tendency to question past revelation.This is a dangerous position spiritually; in my experience, there are few more efficient ways of ensuring the complete loss of the companionship of the Holy Ghost than to begin questioning every prompting you’ve ever had. I knew this, but somehow I could not stop the doubts and uncertainty from invading my mind and driving out the remaining bits of faith I had in myself and in my ability to pray. In the latter stages of my fruitless job search, I described this feeling in my journal:

“My friend and I were talking the other night about what happens to a person’s mental, emotional, and spiritual state of being when they walk for thirty years believing, for reasons good or bad, that they are special—like in the God-has-a-special-plan-for-you kind of special; the you’re-going-to-knock-em-dead-at-whatever-you-do kind of special—and then you wake up one day and realize that you’re absolutely, positively, simply average. And worst of all, you’re not sure if you’re simply average because you screwed everything up—you could have been great, but you didn’t work hard enough or missed the right path to take in life because you can’t understand the Spirit—or if you’re simply average because you are simply average, and you were just deluded your whole life into thinking something else. Either way it is a painful moment and it makes you want to stop trying to be great—forget your dreams, forget your lofty goals and expectations, forget the promises you’ve made to your family, forget spending your golden years in full time service in the Church as a missionary or otherwise—just go get a regular day job and work by the sweat of your brow all the days of your life. The past months have destroyed any confidence I once had in my ability to make decisions and receive inspiration through prayer. I just feel like I really missed the mark in choosing this path, and then missed it again in wanting to remain in this path, and now I’m totally lost. My prayers are silent and I struggle (and fail) to not pray bitterly and angrily, because I have no idea if I’m being heard at all.It just sucks.”

Gratitude
In retrospect, I can say that I never approached a loss of faith in God generally, but my faith in His particular care and concern for me or my family took a massive blow. Even when a friend of mine who owned a couple of successful operations in Orem, Utah threw me a life-preserving job at the last second, I was ungrateful. After this offer of employment, and realizing we would have to move away from Southern California to Utah, I wrote in my journal:

“I’m still struggling internally with our whole situation—especially on the gratitude issue. The past months have been a living hell, and I’ve really struggled at times to understand exactly what it is that I’m going through here. I really didn’t see ‘Move to Orem and work for your old buddy’ in the great plan for us, and to be honest, it feels more like a punishment than a blessing. I really wanted to stay in California and find something great. Perhaps it’s just vanity, but I truly feel like I’m being told by God that I’m not good enough and so I’m being ‘sent home.’ I know that I should be full of gratitude and thanksgiving for having finally received what appears to be a life-preserver. I know that I should thank the Lord for His blessings and mercy. So why do I feel like I’ve just been slapped in the face and told that I’m not good enough for the big leagues? Maybe because I lack the proper perspective? Maybe because I lack the proper humility? Maybe because that’s the truth?”

Empathy
When I was unemployed, no words made me cringe and get angry inside faster than, “It’s all going to work out.” I never had any doubts that, in the long run, things would work out somehow (they did). I knew that unemployment would not last eternity (it didn’t), and that eventually I would swallow my pride and repent of my bitterness (ongoing). I knew that my Mom would still tell me I’m special and wonderful (she does), even if society claimed otherwise (You know it!). But none of those long run realities gave me even a modicum of comfort during a short run when we had little food in our cupboards and even less money to do anything about it. When I was unemployed, I didn’t want handouts, I wanted dignity. I didn’t want sympathy, I wanted empathy. The greatest comfort was not an assurance from the Bishop that he could help us with our bills if we wanted, but rather was the willingness of that Bishop to listen for a minute one day after meetings. It wasn’t the meal the neighbors brought over, but the neighbor who sat at our table and said to me, “Yep…being unemployed really sucks.”

So it does.
———–

Bookmark Unemployment: My Own Personal Recession

Comments

  1. I am currently employed, but as I struggle/have struggled with financial issues, I can totally relate to those points. And it’s nice to see others have the same thoughts and can relate.

  2. Yep, it really sucks.

    I think that for women in Mormonism, analogous feelings can come with infertility. Men are supposed to provide, women are supposed to have and nurture babies. A failure in either often comes with a devastating feeling of profound failure.

    Your journal entry about being special is…wow. I’ve been there.

    PS: love the illustration, and would love to see a more visual BCC going forward.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    It’s more than just “pressure,” it’s the language of a divine mandate to provide. It’s pretty tough stuff.

  4. What Cynthia said.

    Thanks, Scott B.

  5. I am so grateful for the options I have as a woman. My husband is unemployed, and we are living on my grad student stipend and our savings. It’s only been three months, and he has a promising prospect, but it has changed things. I feel like I respect him more as a man when he goes to work and earns more than me. I am very eager for him to find a job, more for emotional reasons than financial reasons.

  6. This is a great post, Scott. I especially appreciate the “Confidence in Communing with God” section. Fortunately I haven’t had to deal with an unemployment situation since I’ve been married, but I’ve watched other family members and friends go through it and it really does suck. (I suppose I have survivor’s guilt also.) We have friends who moved up to Oregon specifically because they’d received a revelation that that was what they were supposed to do, and after four months the husband was let go from his brand-new, exciting, room-for-growth job. That would seriously shake my confidence in personal revelation. Of course, I’ve had that confidence shaken before, in other areas, so I’m not sure I’d trust a personal revelation about moving to a whole new state now if I got one. (Not to mention the fact that I’m thoroughly opposed to moving in principle and have hardened my heart against all such revelations, should they even try to come forth. But now I’m veering off-topic.)

    That part about not being special has so many applications.

  7. Hokie,
    >I feel like I respect him more as a man when he goes to work and earns more than me. I am very eager for him to find a job, more for emotional reasons than financial reasons.

    I sincerely hope you are better at hiding your feelings than I suspect you are. Your statement above is a classic example of what I was writing about, and why it is so devastating for men to lose their jobs.

  8. I have to agree that the church’s discourse about men’s v. women’s roles can be devastating for both genders. It’s hard to keep in mind that there are so many possible ways for our family situations to work if we’re being told there is really only (or at least almost always) one, true way.

    And thank you for the “Confidence in Communing with God” section. I haven’t been unemployed, but the sentiments can be felt at many trials in our lives.

  9. Scott B, You said some important things. That feeling that we are special and that a job loss, or trial, are evidence that we are not, is likely very common in such circumstance, but not often recognized. It is good to remember that feelings of anger and abandonment are expected responses to such things. Nicely done.

  10. Anon for this time says:

    This is tough. We are presently in this situation. My husband is unemployed and it is tearing us apart. I struggle with the worry of how and when he will get another job. How long can we live off savings, pay the mortgage, just manage the day to day stuff even though we have cut back on everything possible.

    Pity drives me insane. Itis a hard thing for others to understand I think if they haven’t been through it, but still don’t treat me like a child and tell me life will be o.k., it is just not that simple. Don’t tell me I will learn and grow from this either. Also don’t judge me please!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been told by so many people that I should go back to work yet I really feel wrong about this. Unemployment right now is a minefield of emotion and I am suffering in huge amounts about lots of things. This is not trivial for us. We are not taking it lightly.

    Rant finished.

  11. Laid Off Lawyer says:

    Thank you. You absolutely nailed my current situation to a ‘T’. It’s no small comfort to know that I’m not alone in having to fumble my way through such a period and struggling with all of the emotional burdens associated with it. :)

  12. “I could not stop the doubts and uncertainty from invading my mind and driving out the remaining bits of faith I had in myself and in my ability to pray.”

    Thanks for sharing that. I felt the same way in grad school when I really needed my research to work out so that I could finish up and move on. My schooling was putting a huge amount of strain on my family emotionally and financially, and I was doing everything I could in the lab and praying like crazy, but still getting nowhere. I gave in to the doubts and frustration for a while and really questioned if God answers prayers or not. Or my prayers at least. It’s so easy to think we’re special, or especially un-special. A tagline I’ve seen at fMh sums up what I needed to realize: “God is not a vending machine.”

    But having unanswered prayers still stinks. Like unemployment.

  13. Thank you Scott.

  14. esodhiambo says:

    I think I have a good understanding of the failure men may feel when they are not in a position to provide, and I like Cynthia’s connection to infertility.

    But I really wonder about the wives in such situations. Should these women not step on toes and not earn at a time like this, or can a man take one for the team and let the wife earn some money for a while?

    I wrote about this a while ago at

    http://www.mormonmentality.org/2009/03/19/thought-game-for-our-times.htm

  15. When I was out of work, I used the term “quiet desperation” to describe my situation *even* though things looked promising, we weren’t starving yet, and we weren’t at a point where we were risking losing the house (although, that was a worry I had every day). They *were* desperate times.

    And it changed me in some positive and negative ways I didn’t anticipate, and it took me some time to undo that.

    We had an understanding bishop and stake president — I held dual callings at stake and ward employment specialist, which was incredibly inspired, I guess — but the best thing that they did for me was just *listen*. I wasn’t at the point where I was opening the books and getting welfare checks. And neither of them could help me with my job search, directly. The other stake employment specialist couldn’t either. But they *listened*. Same with the RS president — she just listened to my wife express her fears.

    I did find it interesting how many Church members, though, assumed that I was available for so many service projects, or that my wife automatically had someone to stay home with the baby, etc., and that they didn’t need to step in and help her out, because I was “at home”. The approach I had adopted — and which we tried to express — was that I was working 12 hours a day looking for a job. I was actively out and about — interviewing, talking to people, networking, making calls. I was not “on vacation”. I would try to find some small ways to serve, but I wasn’t going out on splits with the missionaries all day. Looking for a job was a full-time thing.

    Fortunately, my wife had a small stay-at-home business, and between the cash she pulled in from that and our food storage, we survived while I was out. I can’t tell you how grateful we were to have set aside food.

    I still get emotional when I read these words from an inspired leader, decades before he’d become a prophet:

    “A man out of work is of special moment to the Church because, deprived of his inheritance, he is on trial as Job was on trial—for his integrity. As days lengthen into weeks and months and even years of adversity, the hurt grows deeper, and he is sorely tempted to “curse God and die.” Continued economic dependence breaks him, it humiliates him if he is strong, spoils him if he is weak. Sensitive or calloused, despondent or indifferent, rebellious or resigned—either way, he is threatened with spiritual ruin, for the dole is an evil and idleness a curse. He soon becomes the seedbed of discontent, wrong thinking, alien beliefs. The Church cannot hope to save a man on Sunday if during the week it is a complacent witness to the crucifixion of his soul” (Helping Others to Help Themselves [pamphlet, 1945], 4).

  16. (Sorry, that’s a GBH quote at the bottom of 15.)

  17. Mark Brown says:

    While I agree that there are similarities between a man being unemployed and a woman being infertile, I think it is worthwhile to examine how we as a community react to them.

    The assumption is that anybody who wants to work can work, so a man who is unemployed over a long period of time becomes an object of contempt. The ward gossip can be devastating, and when the prophet himself uses the “worse than an infidel” line from the pulpit in conference, lots of people take that as signal to speak openly about his inability to step up to the plate and take responsibility.

  18. So many layers and facets…

    I knew a bishop who wouldn’t tell anyone (except the stake leaders and specialists) that he was unemployed, so that his ward wouldn’t look him any less. He had a year’s severance from his old job (wow!), and was mentally calculating how long he could go before getting into trouble.

    I’m glad the direct counsel from the Church has been (for at least a decade) to be more open about it. I know dozens of men and women who have bravely gotten up in front of priesthood and RS meetings and said, “I’m out of work, I do x and y, and I need your help”. Admitting it is the first step…

  19. Mark Brown says:

    A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job.

    – Ronald Reagan

  20. queuno, that quote from Pres. Hinckley is one of my favorite of all time.

    I have been through multiple periods of unemployment over the last five years, and I currently am searching for a job, so this post resonates deeply with me. The emotional trauma it has inflicted on my wife has been the single most painful part for me.

    If I were being cynical, the worst part is that both of the instances of extended unemployment have come as a result of “righteous” choices. The first time, I left a job because I was being ordered to overlook serious infractions in order to secure a large contract – and I simply couldn’t do that. It took 15 months to find a job that would support us on its own. It was brutal, especially since we had four young children at the time.

    The second time was about five years ago, when we agreed to help raise a troubled young man. I had worked my way up the corporate ladder, but I often was gone all week traveling. In order to give him the support he needed, I left that career track and found work that would keep me home with my family more. That decision has led to occupational instability and periodic unemployment that I obviously did not anticipate – and, although I am convinced our intervention kept him alive, his overall choices have left us with only prayer available for him.

    Something hit me just this past Sunday, and it floored me. The most amazing thing about the last five years is that I actually got exactly what I chose when I stepped off the corporate fast track to spend more time with my family. I’ve never had more time with my family, and, in many ways, we’re closer now than we ever have been.

    I’d rather not have gotten there the way we’ve gotten there, but I know my kids better now than I could have in almost any way – and one of my daughters has gained an appreciation of her mother through watching her endure this that is special and gratifying. My wife also has been able the last year or so to focus on her blessings by compiling a literal “blessings list” each week – and her blogging about it has helped other women we know begin to do the same. I’m not sure that would have happened without my job difficulties.

    It took me five years to find the silver lining, but I found it – and I’m grateful for that. Now that I’ve found it, I hope I can stop having to look for it. I hope I find a company where I can work until I retire. We’ll see.

  21. Peter LLC says:

    for the dole is an evil

    I wonder how much of this sentiment is uniquely Mormon and how much is, well, just American.

    My own nine months of unemployment led me to a job in a country where the social net kicks in even before unemployment begins with measures designed to provide firms with incentives and alternatives to outright layoffs. In addition to unemployment insurance for all workers, there is a federal job placement program and plenty of free or modestly-priced training and retraining opportunities.

    Being unemployed here is still considered by most to be an undesirable outcome, but with regard to the pressure to provide, unemployment isn’t really an existential crisis and, possibly more importantly for the psyche, the stigma is an order or two of magnitude less.

  22. Oh, and I’m not proud. If anyone wants a copy of my resume, e-mail me at curtisraydegraw at juno dot com.

  23. once unemployed says:

    Scott, it seems you have been reading my journal.

    I’m a little older than you, I was unemployed in the recession of the early 90s. I went through all of the thoughts and feelings and doubts you have described, but I don’t think I weathered them as well as you.

    I experienced the same flood of doubt about personal revelation since my predicament was directly connected to what remains to this day the most clear and startling answer to prayer I have ever felt.

    After sending out hundreds of letters, after reading all of the self help books, after working with the church employment specialist, after checking want ads in dozens of daily newpapers every day at the library, after keeping the faith and keeping up my hope and after spending one day a week at the temple I was still unemployed after 21 months. I had reached the bottom of the abyss. Giving up on aspirations of a new direction for my career I signed up as temp lab help, the kind of job that entails the equivalent of washing test tubes. And that led to my current job and to stock options that let us buy a house and put away a significant amount of money.

    Hooray! A success? I didn’t see it that way. Instead I experienced a kind of ancillary crisis of faith, not in God, not in myself but in the classic LDS picture that had been painted for me in every Aaronic priesthood talk and SS lesson I had heard my whole life: that I could and should make a plan for my life, work hard at it and reap success.

    All of my planning and forethought and foresight and effort and desire and faith got me nowhere. But a desperation move and pure blind chance landed me at a company that was growing and that only hired people after vetting them as temps.

    I have never really regained the person I was before unemployment. I doubt that God talks to people as much as we want to believe he does; and if he does talk I doubt he talks to me. I doubt the wonderful stories of Horatio Alger like success by established adults that are the staple of youth firesides and Priesthood conference session talks to the young men; I see them now more as personal invention when looking back on the random past. 21 months of unemployment pretty much destroyed the world and the world view cultivated in 30 years of Primary, Sunday School, Seminary, Priesthood meetings and New Era magazine stories.

  24. Fletcher says:

    Scott,

    I have been thinking about this for a long time, as you know. Some things especially piqued my interests during the P.H. session of conference, when Bishop Edgley spoke about unemployment (I was thinking of writing a guest post about the PH employment network and structural unemployment).

    I can say that I resonate with your sentiments. I am still waiting for the “This trial is over for you now”. I don’t have anything to add to your post, other than unemployment sucks, and it has permanently affected my marriage. I don’t think I will ever be seen in the same light as I once was. Only time will tell if that is a good thing or bad.

  25. Bro. Jones says:

    #23 Apart from the bit about being older, it seems like you’ve been reading MY journal as well. :)

    One of the recurring themes of bitterness I feel is not so much directed at the people who wouldn’t employ me, but rather at my parents and their generation who fed me the “Make a plan, study hard, followed by working hard (at the job you planned and studied for), and you’ll be all right.” I’m very educated, have a lot of great skills, and wound up underemployed in the non-profit sector where I am today.

    Granted, I’m grateful for my job, but it seems like what we should be telling our youth today may not be the same philosophy we were taught.

  26. Going on sixteen months here… This helps me understand my husband better. Thanks for sharing Scott.

  27. @21 – Let’s remember that GBH wrote that in 1945 (!), coming off the heels of WWII and the Great Depression. He wasn’t (yet) a prophet, so let’s take it for what it is. I suspect that he was witnessing some interesting things in 1945…

    Let’s not make political decisions based on statements not-yet-prophets made before they had that mantle… :)

  28. Ray, thanks for the comment.

    In 2000, I left a really, really good job for a risky job, and the risky job laid me off in 2002, without any realization of the financial promises I’d been promised.

    And while I was out of work (hard enough on the ego), it was even more worse to question my ability to receive answer to prayer, as Scott points out in the original post. See, we were *certain* that the job change was correct, risky as it were. We’d had an answer to prayer and fasting.

    It look a while — 3-4 years (maybe not as long as for some people) in some facets and more immediate in other facets — to have an fuller appreciation of *why* the Lord may have wanted me to leave a cushy and secure job, take a risky one, and get laid off. It would be hard to enumerate all of the blessings we received and that others received through us, but the layoff led to a situation where we could improve our lives and help others who were out of work (as I could get them hired at the new company).

    I’ve learned not to question employment guidance from the Lord, even when it makes no sense. But it’s hard not to murmur. Very hard. And I don’t do very well at it. But I’m trying.

    At the moment, I wake up *every* Friday expecting to get laid off. It’s incredibly tough at the moment (I kind of feel it’s a matter of time). And oddly, one prospective opportunity that I might have if I were to get laid off, is in Utah (yegads). Is this how the Lord effects mission transfers amongst his not-full-time missionaries?

  29. Mark Brown says:

    Is this how the Lord effects mission transfers amongst his not-full-time missionaries?

    That’s an interesting thought, queuno.

    I’ve wondered before what the cost was to the emotional state of Joseph Smith, Sr. God needed to manuever the family from Sharon VT to Palmyra NY, and he used natural means like unemployment, business failures, and crop failures to do it. So maybe it’s no big surprise that JS Sr. had a hard time getting excited about religion in Palmyra.

  30. Your post really resonates with me. I can tell you a bit from the wife’s point of view as well.

    Two years ago we weren’t wealthy, but we were able to go out to eat often, buy many extras, and go on some frequent, great vacations. We had some savings, but not a year’s worth.

    To get to the point, my husband has a job, but all of his projects fell through to the point where he is barely making enough to pay our mortgage and utilites. We went through our savings quickly.

    We haven’t had health insurance in about a year. I cringe everytime one of my children fall off a bike or trip on the stairs. I can’t let my kids go to bday parties because I can’t afford the presents. My stomach hurts when I see my girls growing out of their clothing because I’m not sure how we are going to buy more. I miss small things, like taking my infant to the portrait studio to get his picture taken. I simply don’t have the money.

    At first I was angry and a bit bitter. I was mad when I prayed and not always very respectful. But as time has gone by, I have felt a shift in my very soul (and my husband says the same). My priorties are different. Not that I necessarily had bad priorities before, but now I believe in getting out of debt to my very core. I never want to be “owned” by any one again, like a credit card company, etc. I would rather live in a small house than have debt again. I am more compassionate, and I am a much more grateful person. I am truly grateful for everything we have. There is always someone who has it better, there is always someone who has it worse. It’s just the way it is.

    As my pride began to be stripped away (and I really don’t think I was super prideful to begin with, but really, we all have some), I felt my anger replace with great love for the Lord and the gospel. He has given me miracles. One night, I was struggling w/ postpartum depression (no insurance, no doctor), a screaming colicky baby who got up every hour on the hour for four months straight, and our financial issues. I told Heavenly Father I could not do all these things. One was going to have to be eased. That night my little one only got up once, and has done so since. There are other wonderful things, but I won’t go into them here. Suffice it to say, I have a better relationship with the Lord, and have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought.

    I am a former teacher and I would have gotten a job in the interim, but w/ the new baby, there is no way it would have made sense w/ the cost of childcare. Also, w/ the economy, there is a hiring freeze here on teachers. Hokie, I hope your husband never knows how you really feel. I would cry during the day, but let me tell you by the time my husband came home, the house was inviting, I was happy and his biggest dang cheerleader, and I hope his refuge.

    We are coming out of this tunnel. I can’t say I am grateful for the trial necessarily, but I am grateful I am a better, more refined person. I have a better relationship with Heavenly Father, and a greater understanding of why we are here. President Monson’s “Joy in the Journey” talk had a lot of meaning for me.

  31. Queno,

    I also have to add that the project my husband took on with a partner was prayed and fasted about. My husband knew he received a definite answer to go forward with it. I think maybe it will be a long time before you understand why. If in this lifetime. My husband could do no wrong in his projects before this. He was an up-and-coming whatever you want to call it. If the project had worked two years ago, would he and I be the people we are now, though? That’s what keeps going over in my mind.

  32. In more recent times, I turned down very good jobs. One would have relocated us to another city (a big issue, but not unsurmountable). Both would have meant big paydays (even in the economy). I turned them both down after receiving a confirmation I should.

    With the second one, I was sitting in my then-boss’ office discussing the opportunity and giving him a heads-up that I would probably be giving him my resignation but that I was open to be talked out of it. It’s hard to explain fully — but after weeks of fasting and prayer and taking it to the temple for more prayer — I finally got an answer sitting in my boss’ office that I should stay. Undeniable answer. And yet, there’s no friggin’ reason I shouldn’t have quit. I still don’t get it (and with the second one, we wouldn’t have moved, changed schools/wards, etc.).

    I’ve long felt that we should be less possessive about where we live. Our lives are not entirely our own. We do a disservice to the Lord when we proclaim, “I’m a [fill-in-the-state] and I’m going to live here my whole life!” or “I must absolutely live within a half-hour of momma!” Certainly I never dreamed of living in Texas. Ever. The Lord needs people in Iowa, North Dakota, and in Provo, and we need to leave ourselves spiritually open to moving to where he wants us to end up.

    But if it weren’t for work, why would any of us ever look outside our comfort zone?

    I know some pooh-pooh the idea that the Lord cares where we live or where we work, but I think it’s really important to Him.

    Dunno. It’s hard.

  33. A Few Options says:

    “We haven’t had health insurance in about a year. I cringe everytime one of my children fall off a bike or trip on the stairs. …”

    Every state has an insurance program for children. The income limits are often fairly high. Also, a family of 4 can qualify for WIC with income up to about $40,000. Unemployment is difficult, but don’t overlook options that can ease some of the burdens and worries.

  34. I’d just like to thank the original poster for sharing these thoughts that many of us seem to have had.

    I’ve been through a similar experience in the past and due to current market forces, may be going through it again shortly.

    How often does the metal need to be purified in the refiners fire to separate all the dross? (I have so much dross in me I fear that my life will be a never ending cycle, living in and out of the fire).

    In addition to the comments posted, I would like to add the sad realization that can come to a “provider” when you realize that you are worth more dead than alive. You realize in one quick moment, your beloved family would be mortgage free and could live for many years off the life insurance benefit that would be paid out upon your death.

    …in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see…

  35. Bull Moose says:

    Scott B, Ray, and others who are currently struggling with unemployment or underemployment, thank you for sharing your feelings so openly.

    I have had periods of unemployment off and on over the last nine years, and everytime, I was clinging to the hope that I was following the Lord’s will to that point, and he would continue to direct me. In my secret prayers, pouring out my heart, I acknowleged that I was weak and my faith wavered, but I would continue to trust in Him.

    And speaking of the “survivor’s guilt” Scott B talks about, I was laid off from my firm in January, and within twelve hours I had another job lined up. The only downsides are that I had to take a pay cut and had to move the family (again!). But, I’m grateful to be working.

    The cumulative effect is that even though I’m now employed and things appear to be going well (not ideal like I thought my last job was), my self-confidence is shaken so badly that I don’t know how long this job can last. I feel “absolutely, positively, simply average,” and deep down, I feel like that won’t be enough to maintain a job.

    Amy S, the advice you gave gave about being being your husband’s “biggest dang cheerleader” was a key for our marriage as well. I know when I was in that situation, I hurt, and I was afraid to tell my wife that I hurt, but she recognized that and was the one who helped me feel I was worthy and loved. It made all the difference in my job searches and in our marriage.

  36. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 34

    Your last paragraph is very worrisome, me too. Those kind of thoughts are indicative of depression, which is common among the unemployed. I hope you will reach out to a trusted friend or your bishop for some emotional support. You could also contact LDS Family Services also can provide good information and support:

    http://www.providentliving.org/ses/emotionalhealth/0,12283,2130-1—51,00.html

  37. There’s a very Book of Mormonish-quality to reading all these comments; it’s like we’re channeling the Zarahemla 2nd Ward or something. I hope there’s an 1850s Deseret feeling with us all, too, pulling together in our ward communities, being as generous with fast offerings as we can, and asking as little as we can get by with. We’ve done it before.

  38. I’ve suffered through a number of bouts of unemployment, as working in high tech. primarily in sales or as the technical support for sales is always cyclical, I could echo many of the the statements that have been mentioned. Queno, without the impending threat of the collapse of the company I was working for in Utah in the early 90’s, I would never have moved to Seattle. And the dream job I came here for turned out to be a nightmare, and a company that I had worked for for 5 years suddenly found no use for me.

    My periods of unemployment have lasted from a minimum of about a month, to six full months one time. That was hard, as we had worked to get our savings up to a decent level, and were trying to do all the provident living kinds of things. With my wife not working at the time, six months pretty much exhausted our savings and retirement (this was about 18 years ago), and we’ve never recovered. The one time that I really felt like I had a chance to refill the hole left by the six months of unemployment found me in a city where I had no family, my mortgage had tripled, and my network of coworkers and friends was much more limited. That led to my dot com experience, where my employee stock purchases and options at one time were worth a high six figure value. I later converted what was left, after the lockout period ended, and the burn rate had exhausted all our companies resources into enough cash to purchase a used electric guitar on Craigslist.

    And there is not a day that goes by that I cross my fingers and say “I think I am okay for another month”, but the possibility of the company folding and taking my job away is never much more than the next month’s sales volume.

    Yes, unemployment sucks, even more so the third or fourth time around.

    Ray, you’ve got my email. Send me your resume. You’d love Seattle. Well, the Eastside, actually. Steve and Aaron have Magnolia already staked out, but we could use another ‘naccleite over here in Redmond or Bellevue.

  39. StillConfused says:

    I have never had to deal with unemployment because I work for myself (I guess technically I have tons of employers – my clients). I have many friends whose careers are such they are are employees of others. It is so hard when they lose jobs. My one friend didn’t tell me right away because he didn’t want to burden me with bad news. I am glad that he told me though because I happened to have a client who needed his exact services. If you are unemployed, it is okay to let others know… they may know someone who needs your services.

    I cannot relate to the women who don’t work because even when I was married I worked full time, even when my children were young. My then spouse and I worked opposite shifts so that the children did not need day care. I personally have never felt comfortable spending money that I did not actually earn with my own two hands (or brain), but I am very unique in that category. I don’t like seeing religion used as a reason why a woman does not support her family when her husband is unable to. That doesn’t reasonate as right to me.

  40. For once I agree with MikeInWeHo in #36. Please do what Mike suggests. If you can work through your depression you will have the strength to continue your job search and get hired.

    I’m saddened by the despair I hear in some of these comments. I would suggest that you PLEASE seek help from your ward, family ward and stake employment specialists the LDS Employment Centers and the employment section of Provident Living website. Follow their advice

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=42603c7ff44f2010VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD&locale=0

    You can’t do this alone. You need the help of those around you more than ever. As I council with the unemployed in my ward I remind them that fear and faith cannot exist in the same place. One of the best ways to begin to overcome this fear and feel the Spirit is seek help from others. Of course prayer and scripture study is nice, but those usually aren’t very effective alone.

    I have some thoughts about those of you who suddenly feel they no better average. I frequently help people with resumes. In the majority of cases, one of the biggest resume mistakes is that people underestimate their value as an employee and their accomplishments. They don’t put this vital information on their resume. They don’t even think about it. Most likely, those on this blog will never win the Nobel prize, but you have talents and skills that an employer is looking for. You just might need help presenting yourself well in a resume and interview. You may need help to overcome some of the emotional challenges that stand in the way of you successfully marketing yourself.

    For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. (D&C 104: 17)

    Remember “. . .there is enough and spare. . .” includes jobs. Good luck with everything. I will remember all of you in my prayers.

  41. I need to say one more thing, and I realize totally how sensitive it is – so please forgive me if I step on any toes.

    When we deal with personalities and actions that work with some couples, we sometimes overlook and actually hurt those who don’t fit the model we are championing. I understand the support and help it can be to have a spouse who is the world’s best cheerleader, but we forget sometimes what a terrible burden that can be, as well.

    If I am troubled and stressed out about my unemployment, it’s not fair to assume my wife will be a never-ending source of sunshine to relieve my stress. If she can be and is, great; if not, great. At some point, I have to be an adult and not put the responsibility for my own well-being on her.

    My unemployment has been hard – brutally hard – on my wife. She craves security; she worries about our children; she hurts when we can’t pay for simple things that are borderline needs. SHE NEEDS ME TO COMFORT HER, just as I need her to comfort me. Let’s not put extra burdens on our spouses in times of extreme emotional distress by holding them to an unrealistic standard we ourselves can’t meet.

    Some of the moments when my wife and I have been the closest have been the times when we’ve held each other as we both cried – and I wouldn’t trade those moments for all the “cheerleading” in the world. Again, if cheerleading works, then cheerlead; just don’t expect it of all.

  42. avisitor says:

    Scott,

    I think this is a wonderful post and I think that each one of us has identified with at least one or more of your themes. One of the things I appreciated the most was the refreshing honesty you displayed in sharing the role your own emotions and insecurities played in it. It shows a great deal of maturity and self awareness when someone can be that objective about their own personal experiences. (even if it’s later on)

    #34
    I know sometimes we’re tempted to think that way, but if I asked your family which they’d rather have….a paid for house… or you, I know exactly which one they’d choose. I’d rather live in a cardboard box than live without my spouse, and I’m guessing that if you were forced to choose between constant employment stress and not having a family to worry about at all, that your loved ones would win out by a long shot.

    Don’t let Satan convince you that your life has a monetary value, because it’s a lie. The most important things in this world can’t be purchased with money, or fame, or titles, or success and they last a whole lot longer.

  43. “Don’t let Satan convince you that your life has a monetary value, because it’s a lie.”

    Yours might have none, but mine is worth at least eight onties.

  44. avisitor says:

    Steve,

    Does your wife know you’re worth more than Amulek’s testimony? :P

  45. Naismith says:

    “I personally have never felt comfortable spending money that I did not actually earn with my own two hands (or brain),”

    I agree. I worked hard as a mother at home. I never felt I had the right to spend the day in pajamas or shopping at the mall the way some women do. The only difference is that we weren’t too concerned about whose name is on the paycheck. Whenever my husband got a bonus, he would say, “What are you going to do with your half?”

    Of course I have a graduate degree and paycheck in my name nowadays. But I consider that no more “money I earned” than the money that came into our house when the children were small and I was doing home remodeling, caring for kids, editing manuscripts, going on field collecting trips, etc. My husband could not have the career he has without my support. I earned every penny I ever spent. If clients can be considered “employers,” certainly my husband could be considered my employer.

    And nowadays I have no more control over the money that happens to have my name on the paycheck. We share it all.

  46. Thank you all for your concern. Those were indeed dark days for me. At the time I did seek help and it got me through the difficulties at the time.

  47. I go shopping at the mall in my pajamas everyday.

  48. Ray, you are totally correct and bring up an important point.

    In the beginning, I did try to keep it to myself…until I exploded. I explained to him I felt I had no one to talk to about it, even him. I didn’t want him to feel worse. He told me in no uncertain terms that it could not work like that. We had a big heart to heart about how as much as he appreciated my wanting to support him at the expense of my sanity, we needed each other during this time very much. It is hard on him, but it’s also hard on me, especially as I often feel I have no control over the situation.

    So I guess I should rephrase what I said earlier. My husband and I do confide and express feelings to each other. I do my best to support him and to lift him up. I also try to be a voice of reason when he wants to beat the snot out of himself. I hope that makes more sense.

    #42
    I definitely agree.

    #45
    Feel the same way. I work my rear off at home from early in the a.m. til my head goes on the pillow.

  49. I have been through this twice in the last 6 years. At first I was devastated and really struggled. LDS services was a joke. The jobs they had listed were often over a year old and the volunteers hadn’t worked for years. Although the networking there was moderately helpful. I got through it by finding a couple of caring people at the state job service office. They gave me the confidence to keep trying. I needed someone that believed in me.

    This week my work place had another layoff (you gotta love high tech) although I made it through this one I see the same desperation that I had in those that didn’t.

  50. >LDS services was a joke.

    True dat.

  51. David spent all day Monday at an LDS services job workshop. He came home frustrated and angry. Not the desired result…

  52. Mark Brown says:

    I think the quality of LDS services varies from place to place, depending on the local director. I also think most people go to LDS services with unrealistically high expectations. It’s really not the person’s fault for having those expectations, but a good dose of reality beforehand would help to cut down on the initial shock of disappointment, which I think is pretty common. I know lots of men who have gone there with the expectation that is is something like an employment agency. It is really just a place which offers resume writing instruction, interview role play, cliches about not getting discouraged, and some very limited networking. If people knew that going in they could have a more positive experience.

  53. Razorfish says:

    #15

    “The Church cannot hope to save a man on Sunday if during the week it is a complacent witness to the crucifixion of his soul”

    What a powerful quote and compelling statement. The full quote is amazing. Thanks for sharing. Excellent post.

  54. What a fantastic and thought-provoking post. I appreciate the sincerity and openness everyone has shown.

    I have not traveled the painful road of unemployment yet, but the conversation means a lot to me because in the first decade of my marriage I have been a woeful provider for my young family. I married my high school sweetheart shortly after my mission and we started a family before finishing undergrad. A long grad school research program in a field with debatable earning potential (better than some, worse than many) ran especially long and at times it was certainly a strain my marriage. My wife and I felt inspired to start the program. However, as I saw friends come and go having completed shorter and more lucrative educational paths I often doubted decisions I had made after starting grad school that led to us languishing in a tiny apartment with 3 kids for so many years. My wife worked ridiculously hard both in raising our kids and finding other sources of income whenever possible, but the student loans still kept coming.

    Conference was, at times, hard to listen to: Avoid debt at all costs!; start a family!; get all the education you can! I seemed buffeted by counsel that I could not follow all at one time. Eventually I came to the conclusion that much of the advice was flat out mutually exclusive; good solid principles but impossible to pull off, at least for me in a living situation that I seemed to have been inspired to follow. Accepting the impossibility to follow all good advice simultaneously was actually quite comforting, but it was a tough conclusion to reach. As has been said by others, this experience of struggling to provide systematically dismantled my notions that hard work, good education, and dedication to family is a magic formula for inevitable success (at least the straightforward, confident, thriving kind). Hopefully it has shaped my outlook enough to make me more empathetic to others who feel swamped by expectations they are not meeting, despite working as hard as they can to do right by their families.

    I wish everyone the best of luck; I believe we all need a healthy dose.

  55. anon for this says:

    I think that sometimes we underestimate our greatest resource- our eternal partner. Rather than feeling guilty or inadequate, take courage and take heart from the fact you are in this together. It should be something you work through together. I speak as a (now) single parent with dependents, not much money coming in, and an area where the LDS Employment and Welfare services are almost non existent. Every month I wonder how much longer we can get by, pared back to the bare bones – vacations are a non starter. It would be so good to have someone else here to share the burden with (and yes, I do it in prayers, but another human being occasionally would be nice. HT’s don’t drop by very often, and I can’t remember the last VT). I wish us all luck, but wish too that those men here who are feeling the weight, share with their wives. They won’t break :-)

    I echo the ‘good luck to everyone’ sentiments.

  56. This is a very enlightening and difficult thread. The journal entries of the OP sound like my husband could have written them. After making a career change to a dream job and moving two states away he was informed a few weeks ago his contract will not be renewed.

    We do have until august and we are grateful for that.

    The very concept that we are special and God ha a plan for us dictates that it will be right for some wives to work and not right for others. Some will need to be cheerleaders and other will need to cry together.

    I hate it.

  57. I have been fortunate enough to have never been unemployed, but I know people who have been. In talking to them it has given me some perspective. I think that part of the devastation from losing a job comes from years and years of hearing stories of if you pay your tithing you will be blessed financially. Or if you do lose your job, if you keep paying your tithing, a mystery check will show up unexpectedly covering your expenses. While this may happen to some people, if it doesn’t happen for you it can be a let down. You wonder why Heavenly Father is not treating you the same way that he treated you in all of those Ensign stories and Primary lessons.

  58. Bull Moose says:

    Ray, you bring up a good point that I neglected to address in my comment. I wrongly assumed that every marriage is based on open and honest communication of emotions and needs, only because the last couple of major unemployment spells I have gone through came after my wife and I strengthened our marriage with the help of counseling.

    Employment stress, or not, both spouses should absolutely feel comfortable expressing stress, anxiety, hurt feelings, or whatever need arises.

    The point I was making is that the individual going through unemployment often suffers self-doubt and the buffetings of Satan trying to convince him, he’s not good enough to get a good job, take care of his family, etc. As an earlier commenter indicated, faith is required to get through the ordeal, and be able to call on the Lord’s help (whenever I begin a job search, a priesthood blessing is the first thing on my to do list!).

    A spouse usually cannot find a job for the other, so how can a spouse help out? By providing emotional support, and expressing faith in the unemployed spouse and in the Lord that his will be done. I’m sorry if “cheerleading” brought images of smiling Stepford wives who were numb to their own needs. I was going more for an empathetic and supporting role.

  59. This is a beautiful post, Scott, and reading the equally beautiful comments here has enabled me to know each of you so much better.

    I’m not a man, obviously, but last year circumstances required me to quit my professional pursuits, because my husband could not find a job near where I needed to be. In the year that has followed, I have questioned many, many times the feelings and choices that prompted me to embark upon my original path, especially as I realized daily the opportunity costs that came with going down that path. Like many of you here, I will never again feel “special;” I will never again believe that life is a meritocracy; and I will be so much more grateful for the blessings that we do have. I don’t think I will ever be able to recover the same hopeful feelings that I had about our world, but maybe that’s a sign of maturation.

  60. #57

    Best sacrament meeting talk I heard all year: High councilman and his wife were struggling financially but decided to go ahead and pay the tithe. His wife called him in tears the following week as the repo man drove off with the family van. I felt much more inspired to keep paying my tithing than I would have if money had fallen to him from the sky.

  61. I am the husband whose contract is not being renewed after moving the ten of us 933 miles for a career change. The dream job is what I left in Utah Valley — where I was very comfortable with our lifestyle except for the lack of sufficient income part — but the dream was inconsistently realized due to insufficient base pay (100% commission).

    Something had to give so we sold our house (to the first person who walked through) and paid off all our credit card debt. I had always wanted to do what I am doing now but it is not a dream job since it does not pay enough. We accepted the job so far away because the employer begged us to come here, we prayed about it and felt we should go, not for the sake of the job but for the feeling we should leave the “comfort zone” and strengthen the Church where it really needs an active family of ten.

    I have always had helpful, constructive, positive evaluation processes with my two previous long-term employers, but I could tell early on that the person who hired me was not the same person she pretended to be when I was recruited to fill their need. I understood it was a probationary contract the first year, but the need was presented as long term, and the first year in the industry is typically quite a learning experience. Somehow the expectation was that I should perform like a 20 year vet for the first year administrator. My performance was not poor, in fact for the most part considered “proficient,” and my secondary supervisor thinks I did a great job under difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, no real reason was given the administrator for not renewing my contract. I resigned effective the end of the contract period in lieu of non-renewal.

    Many of the thoughts and feelings expressed above by others have passed through my heart and mind. I do have faith we were brought here for some purpose yet unknown to us. We have let as many people know as soon as we could so the tithing miracle could produce the blessings we don’t have room enough to receive. It is hard to be that spiritual strength to a struggling ward when we are so stressed about how we can maintain any semblance of financial strength. As I said, this new job didn’t pay enough anyhow. Maybe the blessing is seeing this thing I always wanted to do for what it is…not enough.

    The temptation is certainly to feel that I am not enough for the challenge presented. We are following the plan we feel is ours — to have a large family. Now what do we do to provide for it?

  62. I think the quality of LDS services varies from place to place, depending on the local director.

    If she reads this, she’ll be terribly embarrassed, but I need to extol the professional virtues and great talent of Julie Poole, who runs the Dallas LDS Regional Welfare and Employment Center.

    In my days as a stake employment specialist, Julie is the one who passionately recited to us GBH’s quote every month, tears in her eyes, as she would exhort us to find ways to help those in our stakes. And she isn’t all talk — she came up with lots of innovative problems in the Dallas area. In the heart of the 2002 dot-com crash, professional job seekers (the ones with the high-dollar incomes and lots of experience) were finding jobs in 8-10 weeks by following her programs…

    When I got laid off (and still an employment specialist), she was the second person I called, after my wife (and my wife was annoyed that I hadn’t called Julie first).

    Yes, employment centers are hit or miss. People are hit or miss. Julie, and her lieutenant Donna Toups, are two of the finest and most efficient people I’ve ever met.

    Unemployment is a terrible, terrible thing. Being unemployed in Dallas at least provides a bit of a light…

  63. Nebraska says:

    A few years ago I felt impressed that my family should move two states away to a large, expensive city. We were currently surrounded by family and living an easy life. My dear wife accepted these impressions that I was having and worked for her own confirmation. Once the decision was made to move – everything became very difficult. We couldn’t even sell our house, but we loaded up our truck and hit the road.

    Arriving in the city we had to rent as we couldn’t afford to buy. Shortly thereafter I lost my employment. We lived on very, very little and things built up to what could have been a breaking point, but together, we decided to TRUST the feelings we had originally felt to move to this difficult place and said that we would endure to the end (whatever that would be).

    Two months later I was called as the bishop. Things are much better.

  64. Thanks for sharing your personal story, Nebraska.

  65. For those of you who are unemployed, don’t forget to check the Federal jobs website: http://www.usajobs.gov/

    They’re doing a lot of hiring these days.

  66. I have been unemployed for one month. I’ve been reading this blog and feel so understood. I left a job of seven years that had changed direction for a job that was too similar and risky. The risk found me jobless after 5 months. I know it’s going to be a blessing in the long run because I wasn’t completely satisfied but wouldn’t give up. Now I’m forced to job hunt. But I have had very similar feelings, as mentioned above, such as feeling mediocre, uncomfortable at spending for non-essentials and hope I start making money before the savings is depleted. I’m so thankful for the teachings we have been given about provident living. I fell more prepared for this trial because of it but I know things are going to be tough and I cry and wallow sometimes in my own grief. I just feel to thankful to all of you, who completely understand me, even though you’ve probably never me me. I’m just another Child of God and I thank you for your supporting comments.

  67. I was layed off for 9 months. The week I got a job (just started 4 weeks ago) I was called to be the employment specialist in my ward. Unbelievable.
    I will say this…people that have jobs have no idea what it is like to not have a job. Especially as a man. You’re burning through savings, job reports keep coming out about unemployment rising, leads are fleeting. It was the most difficult experience of my life. Being married, with children, unemployed.
    However, I will say this. I started listening to Joel Osteen cd’s. He’s a pastor in Houston. Somehow I was able to maintain a positive attitude and believe that God had a plan for me.
    I still listen to Joel Osteen just to keep myself uplifted. There is too much negativity in the world and on the news. Stay positive if you can. Cry when you feel the need to cry. I think it helps free up the pent up emotion.

  68. One thing I noticed while going through the Old Testament is that when God wants to move people, He often sends a famine (think of Abraham and Jacob for instance, Ruth, etc). Our modern day famines are being unemployed. I know in my own life lack of employment has been the thing that has driven me across the country.

    It would be sooo much easier if we could just receive a post card in the mail that says “You need to go do X at location Y”, but it’s never that simple. “My ways are higher than your ways… ” (Isa 55:8-9)

  69. When will this end says:

    I identify with the OP very well and many of the comments left. I have been actively looking for work for over 20 months. We have lost our house, have lived with my in-laws for the last 6 months (which I am grateful for – otherwise we would be on the street), and are having to file for bankruptcy. It has been the most difficult thing in my life bar none.

    I have tried not to question past revelation that was a strong as the answer to my prayer about the Book of Mormon. I too have realized that the life insurance on me would take care of all our bills. However, when I do the small things that we learned in Primary – sincerely pray, study (not just read) the scriptures, attend the temple, serve others, pay tithing, and a generous fast offering – that my burdens are lightened. They aren’t removed obviously, but I recognize that my priorities have changed.
    I don’t know when this will ever end and I wish I knew when it would. But when I remember that the goal of this life is to overcome the world, it gives me hope that I’m making progress.

    Besides, I try to remember that all my problems would be gone tomorrow with a big fat check. Unfortunately, there are many suffering from the burden of sin (which is the heaviest to bear), trying to beat life threatening illnesses or death, (may I add that I lost my mother and sister during this time too), or painfully watch a loved one make poor choices. (My brother chose to flee rather than face charges to serious accusations and now is a fugitive of the law.) These type of problems cannot be solved with something as simple as a paycheck. So I am grateful that my problems are what they are.

    These last 2 years have been terrible. But like Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon taught us in Liberty Jail, it is up to us how we respond. Joseph left a changed man more humbled and confident in the Lord. Sidney left bitter and was never the same again and soon lost his standing in the church. I appreciate Elder Neil Anderson’s powerful teaching, “Faith is a decision.” It is a decision we must make every day.

    So despite all the heart warming stories of faithful tithe payers being saved financially/materially at the last minute – my testimony is different. I have paid a full tithing and a generous fast offering only to have lost everything I own except the clothes on our back, our food storage, a few furnishings and an old car (that is paid off). But I am grateful for this experience of humility that has changed me. I am grateful my family loves each other and that we have good health. I am grateful that my wife and I are worthy to attend the temple and live close to one where we attend weekly. I am grateful I haven’t lost my testimony and my 3 children love the Lord and each other. These things are worth all the money in the world.

    Sorry about the long rant. I think it was more theraputic than anything else for me.

  70. John Taber says:

    Seven years and about ten days ago I found myself moving back in with my parents for the second time since finishing college. I had lost my job a couple of months earlier, and accepting fast offering for the first time in my life was the worst feeling. For the third time in three and a half years, I had wrapped up service as a ward membership clerk by sending off my own record.

    About halfway from North Carolina to Delaware I stopped for gas. As I was putting the pump back, “frustrated” didn’t begin to describe how I was feeling. But as I got back on US 301, the Holy Ghost reminded me who had been put in as the new presidency in my parents’ stake, and how well I knew the new president and his first counselor, and they me.

    A couple of weeks later, that first counselor called me into the office. (He had been my bishop a few years earlier, including my first stint as membership clerk.) I thought he was going to put me in that position again, but instead he called me as an assistant stake clerk.

    That calling was immeasurable in keeping me grounded during several months alternating between underemployment and unemployment, giving me something to do, somewhere to go when I needed it. And seven years later I still hold the same calling. Meanwhile, my union agreed to a 5% pay cut in return for no layoffs for the next year or so . . .

  71. When will this end says:

    I should add that some of the most humbling moments of this experience have been:
    – Meeting with the Bishop and needing assistance.
    – Having our house foreclosed on.
    – Asking for loans from family.
    – Asking to live with my in-laws.
    – Despite having an MBA, working as a painter for a few months.
    – I currently wait tables at night so I can look for work during the day. I’m grateful it provides something more than nothing. Believe it or not, it has been good for my mental health to be earning something.
    – Filing for bankruptcy.

  72. Doug (68),

    I think you bring up one of the particularly difficult aspects of unemployment–at least it was for me. I considered writing more about it in this post originally, but decided against it. The idea is this: When you have a “famine” (as you mention), should you take that as a hint to get out of dodge and relocate, or as a hint that you need to persevere? This was the greatest challenge for me during the events I described in the post, and why understanding past and current revelation became so difficult and confidence-destroying.

  73. Deep Thoughts says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us. I believe there are far more people out today (and increasing day by day) that empathise with you, and that, is a good thing!

    The kindest most appreciated words I heard from a co-worker when I was recently laid off were… “I’m sorry”
    Simple, honest and heartfelt.

  74. Robert F says:

    I feel your pain and appreciate your comments. I have floundered in and out of employment for approximately two years now. I am currently working a temporary position at a low wage to help make ends meet. My wife carries a large burden, and is supportive, but I still feel less than adaquate. One eye opener for me when I was grumbling about my underpaid position, was a reminder that I had prayed about being employeed before Christmas, and sure enough before Christmas I was employed. My job is a blessing from a Heavenly Father who is aware of our needs. I have had to swallow my pride and realize my blessing. I do however relate well to the emotions you have expressed. Not bitter over my circumstances, but aching in my heart because I have not met what I believe are my obligations or potential.

  75. Danna Ripps says:

    Thank you for the postings about being unemployed. It is good to know that I am not alone.

    I could relate to the feelings of being unemployed. I could also relate to the women and infertility. I am a single sister, so I don’t have a husband to be a provider.

    I recently had two members of High Priest Quorum come to home and drill me for an hour on what I needed to do to get a job. I really think they thought they were helping.

    I went to the Professional Workshop held at the LDS Employment Center. I was the only sister in the room. I sat between my Bishop and a counselor from the Stake Presidency. The workshop was great but I am struggling with the networking.

    I finished my MBA in October and while attending school, I had a full-time job and a part-time job. I went back to school so that I wouldn’t have to work two entry-level jobs in order to survive. Working two jobs and going to school did not leave much time for socializing other than church activities so I don’t have a big network to rely on to get a job that is not entry level.

    If anybody could help, it would be greatly appreciated.

  76. @ Danna Ripps –

    Copy & paste this link. It contains 8 pages of Fed jobs in your geographic area, in the GS-5 to GS-12 pay scale. Good luck and hang in there.

    http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/jobsearch.asp?q=&lid=486&jbf571=6&jbf571=19&jbf571=10&jbf571=4&salmin=&salmax=&paygrademin=5&paygrademax=12&FedEmp=N&tm=&sort=rv&vw=d&brd=3876&ss=0&FedPub=Y&SUBMIT1.x=57&SUBMIT1.y=20&SUBMIT1=Search+for+Jobs

  77. Rechabite says:

    The journal entries in the OP also sound like I could have written them. Could have written them, like, last week. And I’m not a man. Unemployment sucks all around. It has strengthened my determination to work for a Zion community on all levels.

  78. Danna Ripps says:

    @ Brooke

    Thank you for the advice. It is greatly appreciated.

  79. I’m also unemployed, for the first time since I was 16, yet I’m having a completely differenct experience. Because we had lived frugally, had ahered to the Prophet’s counsel and avoided debt, bought a house that the payments were less than 25% of our income and had a six month emergency fund of cash, and some food storage, I am daily grateful for the peace I feel compared to what I could be feeling. We found after my job was eliminated that through careful budgeting, the six month emergency cash fund will actually sustain us for almost a year. Of course it means we can only spend $20/month on entertainment cable TV has been eliminated and we only drive when neccessary.

    It’s true we didn’t get to have the wave-runners and there is not a flat screen TV in our family room but our security is worth so much more.

    While I fall short in many things the Lord/Prophets teach me, I am certainly being blessed for having followed their fiscal counsel.

  80. As a follow up to my last post, I’m not saying that I won’t be unemployed in a year and having burned through all of my savings and be homeless. I made the post as a testimony, because I would be very ungrateful if I complained during this time.

    It is also meant for a warning for those whose still have jobs on the things they can sacrifice now to make potential unemployment more tollerable.

    I feel much compassion for those currently in these circumstances and wish them the best.

  81. Two years ago I was laid off due to restructuring within the company. Within weeks I was able to find employment in the IT field as was my wife who is an RN. It required a relocation to another state. For both of us we were embarking in areas we had no prior direct experience. In less than a year she recieved another offer which came with a nice sign-on bonus. My situation had potential to go south, so we took the offer and relocated again within less than a years time. Because She found herself in the right place at the right time having the money from her sign-on bonus, we were able to adopt a baby girl from the hospital where she worked. And to think… this all started from me being laid off two years prior. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the $20K cash needed for the adoption or have been in the right place to learn about the opportunity. A strange thing has happened in the two months since adopting our little girl. Our employer (we worked for the same health system) has engaged in interviews trying to find out who told us about the adoption opportunity. We protected this person and as a result, wife wife resigned and I was asked to eith resign or be terminated. I wish there were more to tell, but in a nutshell, thats it. The adoption was handled by an attorney and LDS Family Services. Perfectly legal and yet the health system in my judgement is so corrupt that they feel we have done wrong by adipting this child. We can not determine the root of their contempt. Cetainly we feel it is motivated by something of the Adversary. As an RN my wife has already found and accepted another offer for employment. I had an interview today, but left feeling down and discouraged. I can’t explain it. I have seen great blessings come out of adversity and I believe there must be something in store in our future, but the days between now and the future can seem like endless hours. I told my wife how I was feeling after the interview. She said not to worry, “you are doing all you can do.” A simple thing to say, but gave me confidence that I was “doing all that I could do.” To the wives. I have known and lived the frustration and I can say for sure that your simple comments of encouragement are sometimes the driving force that keeps us guys moving forward. On the other hand it can be the end of the train tracks with “the look” or the harsh words. Be careful with those words. Use them to build him up. Hopefully he will do the same for you! These are the tough times. We need to make it through without letting it tear us apart. If handled correctly it should bring us closer together because we overcame the challenges together, as a team.

  82. MikeInWeHo says:

    Hey Chad,

    It sounds like one of your wife’s colleagues at the hospital tipped her off about the baby you adopted. If this entailed giving her information any information whatsoever about a patient (such as the name of the mother who wanted to give up the baby), that would probably be a violation of federal privacy law. The hospital is required to follow a formal investigation process, or otherwise be at substantial risk itself. Your refusal to cooperate with the investigation would likely be grounds for termination, unfortunately. The situation would be the same at any hospital in the country. My guess it had nothing to do with the adoption itself, which as you note was perfectly legal (not to mention wonderful!).

    My hunch is somebody at the hospital ran afowl of something called the HIPAA Privacy Rule:

    http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/index.html

    Really sorry you were dragged through that. It sounds awful.

  83. Scott B says:

    MikeInWeHo,
    Federal laws? Boring. Adversary-causation is much more interesting.

  84. Dear Scott,

    I found this from a post on Linkedin.com What a powerful and passionate read, thanks for writing it from the heart, truly human and hopeful to so many others.

    The gospel is so wonderful and gives us purpose and meaning, even life’s trials can seem overwhelming.

    I love to be inspired by others triumphs over adversity, thanks for my daily dose of inspiration today!

    All the best from across the pond! Regards, John.

  85. John,

    Thanks for the kudos. Out of curiosity, where on LinkedIn was it posted?

  86. Dustin Huntsman says:

    Scott,

    I haven’t heard from you since we were writing parking tickets in down town Logan.

    Its good to see you are still alive and well. I always appreciated your insights and have missed our talks over slices of bread.

  87. Dustin,
    WOW! Fancy seeing your name around these parts. What are you up these days? It has been a looooong time.

  88. MikeInWeHo,

    Well, if what you stated were entirely true, I would understand why they have proceeded in the manner in which they have. However, no HIPPA violations were committed. If they were my wifes license to practice medicine would possibly be in jeopardy. This is not the case and the hospital agrees that no laws have been broken. They simply contend that hospital policy was broken, when in fact according to my attorney, they weren’t from from he has read and according to what I have told him. He hasn’t been able to get any representative from the hospital to even speak to him.

  89. Anne Cloward says:

    Scott, may I link to your article in my blog, http://annecloward.wordpress.com/
    I want to discuss this topic and think you make some excellent points.

  90. Scott B says:

    Anne,
    Have at it.

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