Whew! Another month survived.
In those early moments when I was beginning to decode the writing on the wall and realize that my job was coming to an end, I wasn’t thinking about my soon-to-be-unemployed situation, I wasn’t thinking about finances, nor was I was thinking about the impact this great change would have on my family — I was thinking about the other 70+ people who were also being laid-off and their circumstances. This is not to say that I am a saintly lover of people, nor that I am so codependent that I’m unaware of my own needs, but I think I was just in shock.
I’d never faced such a situation before, and it was wholly new to me; it all seemed incredibly surreal and I was sure it would be over in a matter of days, or at most — weeks. As the news did begin to sink in and “back-up” jobs that I thought I’d be able to turn to, fell through, I was really wondering how my husband and I were going to make it. I knew we had enough resources to get us through the first month and a half, maybe even two months, but after that? Then what?
It’s now been eight months, and we are surviving. I have to be honest — it is often scary. At the beginning of each month as we’re reviewing our budget, we have our income, and we have our expenses. Consistently, there is a gap — and not in the black, but in the red — this is what I like to call “The Grace Gap”. We do lots of “finagling” to make sure we can meet our responsibilities, and continue to walk through each day with integrity. We have gotten rid of things we don’t need, cut expenses where possible, changed our shopping habits, and looked seriously at what we “have to pay” and what “we can pay”. Each time we look at the gap – whether large or small, we do all we humanly can to close it in, and at the end of each month, by the grace of God, the gap is filled. Sometimes it has been filled by a chunk of savings that we had here, or a refund that was received there, and even by those unexpected “bonuses”. This is unbelievable to me — and that’s not even the really hard-to-believe part. I definitely feel the anxiety when the gap feels like it’s closing in around us, or when it feels like we just can’t make it, but at the same time I also feel an inexplicable sense of serenity and assurance — this is where faith comes in — totally beyond my logic and understanding, and something I can only know from the core of my being.
Life over the past year has been far from where I imagined and hoped it would be. Before completing my graduate program last May, my husband and I were excitedly beginning to think about life beyond the degree — I would be able to resume full-time work at a regular salary, we wouldn’t have to think about tuition payments anymore, we could be more generous in our savings, and begin to seriously consider the “BIG married people plans” like a house, family, etc. How does that expression go, “even the best laid plans go awry” or as Robert Burns wrote in his poem “To a Mouse“, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew”. So things have not turned out as we imagined or hoped, but I believe, and I trust that beyond the current state of the economy and global finances, there is a reason for this season in our lives. I scour several sites for job postings, apply for positions, put my all into the layout of my resumé or the crafting of my cover letters, and beyond that, I try to trust, try to live out my faith, try to learn what I can, and do what I love.
Yes, our finances are sad, our fiscal belts are tighter, and we live day to day by our budget, but at the end of each month, not only do we make it, but we continue to have shelter over our heads, food in our bellies, and still partake of luxuries like a dinner out, or a movie night here and there. I feel like not only are we surviving, but in many ways I still feel incredibly spoiled, full of hope, and absolutely blessed.