Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It was the worst of days...

Then the news came down...

The Union had refused several offers from the company. The company would not be allowing them (and the rest of the "bargaining unit") to work until an agreement was reached. At first we were nervous but thought it couldn't go on too long, right? I mean, these guys needed a paycheck too, right? They couldn't live on their "principle" of what they were owed. (In case you haven't yet figured it out, I'm not a huge fan of the union.)
These men have families. Christmas was coming (it was October 11, 2014 when the lockout began). Bellies would get empty, bills would come due. What the company was offering was not unreasonable in today's market. At all. These guys had just been living in their protected little world for so many years (getting away with sleeping on the job and almost anything else because...union).
We would get little tidbits of information that would give us hope but it was all rumor and speculation. The company (understandably) could not talk to my husband at this point. Thankfully we had opportunities to earn money, some grocery store gift cards were given to us at church and we kept scraping by.
Eventually, we began to see this may not end the way we thought it would. My hubby started looking in earnest for another job (thinking if, by chance, his job became available again he would have the choice of which one to keep) but we believe that when perspective employers would see the name of the company he was employed by on his resume they would draw back. It was frustrating to say the least.
It is so hard to go through something like this where you see no point to it. No real reason. It's hard to lead your children in bedtime prayers every night for "daddy to get his job back" and have them eventually say "why do we keep praying for that? it's not going to happen." So hard.
And other people try to understand. They really do. They try to say the "right" thing. The thing is, there is no "right" thing. There is no magic words to make someone feel better.
I know some of the "wrong" things:
 :: it could be worse (you know, some people don't have a home or a family or food or they have cancer)
 :: just pray harder. if you name it you can claim it.
 :: God answers prayers of the righteous.
 :: I know just how you feel. 
 :: [fill in the blank] isn't that important.

Yes, I know it could be worse. It makes me feel awful enough to be complaining when I know there are people who are homeless or have horrible illness. And the second two? Just don't ever say those to a Christian struggling through something. Seriously. What they hear is "God doesn't favor me" "Why are my prayers not good enough?"  No, you don't know how we feel. We feel like we've been left flapping in the wind. We feel desperate to make ends meet. We feel at a loss of what to do next and where to go. And yes, vacations with your family and occasionally buying a fun thing or going somewhere fun are important. No, they're not essential but they are important. And watching your kids grow up without those things is HARD. I have 2 kids that are nearing adulthood. I did not want their last memories of our home life to be so poor that we had to weigh out if we needed toilet paper bad enough to spend on it. A little fun is a much better end note.

I lost friends during this time. Or maybe I just wasn't willing to put up with what I normally would. I love "being there" for my friends. I love when someone trusts me to listen to what is going on in her life. But when the same person is only willing to talk about her problems-even when you are in the midst of a crisis...you just realize how one sided it is. And because you are so "empty" and have little patience, you just don't put up with it anymore.

But you learn what is valuable. (Don't get me wrong, I don't want any more lessons for a while!)
You learn who cares-and who doesn't. You learn to depend on God-not just in word but in your every day life. (Give us THIS day our daily bread...)

One friend in particular was priceless. This friend had not been my friend for long and I often thought "how can she stand me? this is all she knows of me! and it's not pleasant!" She is much younger than me but taught me some valuable lessons in friendship. She did not try to tell me how to feel or how much worse it could be. She would just agree that it sucked. Even if I tried to say, "I know, I shouldn't complain....yada yada yada" She would say, "no, this sucks". Then, if I was wallowing too much she would give me a practical "assignment". One day she told me to go to the local nature trail area and just sit. I didn't have to pray (she knew that wasn't possible for me right then and didn't judge me for it). I didn't have to do anything. Just sit. In the sunshine. And ya know, it helped!? There were little things like that occasionally that were just important to my survival and staying somewhat sane for my family. She prayed for me, but didn't preach at me. She didn't expect much from me. And when I came to a place where I was ready to pray and reach out to God again, she rejoiced with me. And encouraged me. (Don't get me wrong, we had silliness and jokes and fun too!)

To be continued....

The Best of Days

For our whole married life we have managed financially. Not thrived. Never extra, just enough (most of the time). Granted, we are not risk takers. We stay well within the box of ordinary financial decisions. Sometimes that limits you. And that's ok.
My hubby had a good job. For about 9 years, he went to work every day and came home every night. For the first time in our life, rain didn't mean a catastrophe to the budget, he was allowed to be sick without me silently panicking and then feeling horribly guilty, we took a couple of great vacations-without having to save for the vacation AND the pay he would lose. Get it? It was a good job. We didn't have health insurance, raises weren't plentiful and often the ends BARELY met. But in today's world, it was a good, stable job.
Then he really wanted to apply at a plant nearby. I was nervous. It was change. But a substantial raise. And overtime. We would finally be able to pull out of our "hole" a bit (debt is a sinkhole)
and maybe even get ahead. Health insurance. We are getting older and realize that eventually our bodies will need more tune-ups. But I was nervous. This plant has, in the past, had substantial layoffs. What if....
But we decided to just start the process to see what would happen. Praying for God to open doors if it was in His will for this change to happen. And each (difficult) step brought us closer to the inevitable. There were tests. Interviews. A physical. And he made it. The stress I could feel in him was difficult. I kept thinking, "once he gets the job..." but the stress only got worse. My husband is NOT an optimist. ;) Not even a little bit. So, he was sure that he would lose his new job within the 90 day probation period. I didn't think he would. There were, however, rumblings of the Union refusing to sign a new contract (while we were not union, it affected us as he was part of the same "bargaining unit"-in other words, their victories were to our benefit but their stupidity and failures were to out detriment). I wasn't worried about my husband's ability to perform his job. I was however worried about the Union's ability to play well with others.
In the meantime, I began to enjoy the financial benefits. I could get gas whether it was payday or not. I could run to the store to buy milk when we needed it-not wait for payday. I knew I could call the dr if we didn't feel well....it was nice.

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