The number of people in the US currently without work is staggering. Laid off, furloughed, let go, or temporarily on hold; you’ve found yourself suddenly with an abundance of time and possibly feeling overwhelmed figuring out how you will spend it. You’re not alone.
Last year I was without work for three months. It was the first time since I was fifteen starting off at Publix that I had ever been without work. Those three months were hard, rich, and very emotional. Having been through a time without work recently myself, I want to encourage you not to waste this opportunity. Whether or not you chose this season, how you spend it is up to you. Why not use this time as you wait for work to resume or search for what’s next well?
Here are three ways to use this time wisely:
Quiet time. I’ve been doing a morning quiet time at 5:30am for years. But when I was suddenly without 15 hours of work to attend every day it occurred to me that I didn’t have to watch my clock anymore. I could just be in the presence of God and pray through this difficult season. One of the hardest parts of my unemployment season was questioning my calling. I took my time in the word and in prayer to seek the Lord’s direction, something I’m incredibly grateful for now.
Focus on others. It’s unbelievably tempting to feel sorry for ourselves especially when we have more time than ever to think about, well, us. I want to share a trick. In my early 20s I had a year of being extremely sick. While a team of specialists tried to get to the bottom of my issues I struggled, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
One day I realized it was exhausting feeling sorry for myself and I made a plan. I grabbed a prayer list and I looked for someone worse off than me. His name was Rich. He had stage 4 cancer. He wanted to live to raise his sons alongside his wife. This was definitely worse than my situation. After that every single time I felt sick or felt sorry for my situation, I prayed for Rich. I prayed for his healing. I prayed for strength and encouragement to fight. I prayed for a miracle.
Rich has been cancer free for over 5 years now. A few months after he got the shocking news of his healing, we got to meet. To this day we follow each other on social media and I think of Rich as my miracle – my example of God’s faithfulness in hard seasons. Use this season to focus on other people. There are a great many needs surrounding all of us right now. Pray for and serve others with this ‘extra time’. God will use it.
Redefine work. As someone who thrives on structure I knew I needed to have some for my unemployment season. So I changed my definition of work. After over 15 years of working for other people, I went to work for and on myself. I took excel courses, brushed up on Microsoft office, read a book on personal finance, revisited my goals, and found as many available (and mostly free) resources as I had hours in the day.
Use the resources we have available at Crossroads to touch up your resume, explore your gifts, and figure out what you want to do next. Update your LinkedIn. Get a new headshot. Make yourself a ‘schedule’ for researching companies and applying for jobs. Practice answering interview questions. This sense of purpose to your days will help you to feel accomplished.
Know that we at Crossroads are praying for everyone who finds our organization during these difficult times. If you’ve left us a prayer request than you’re being praying for specifically for your individual needs. My heart aches for the hardship that this pandemic has caused. So if you’re here, reading this and you’re discouraged I want to share with you my verse that carried me through last year:
O God, listen to my cry!
Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth,
I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings! – Psalm 61: 1-4
Becca Christensen is a Crossroads Career Board Member and the editor of this blog for 2020. She works in the healthcare construction industry in Tampa, FL. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic football fan, and competitive at any and all board games.