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....