Last winter was a challenging time for me, with no stability, poor health, and always on the brink of a crisis that could have had me homeless in every way.
I had to leave a nice home in a gated community, which was a heartbreak all its own, though I was merely a rentor. That move required me to purge many beloved possessions as I prepared to live in a smallish bedroom with my unmarried youngest son, in a town in another state about 35 miles away from other family members. I had been out of work from May (when my birth mother died), to November, having my unemployment benefits denied through an error on my part. I had been using my siblings’ inheritance to pay rent, hoping to win appeals, but I lost them all. It was time to leave.
Having to toss 2 things to keep one, or sometimes 5:1, was emotionally distressing. I had been forced to restart my life several times since my marriage died in 2000; and now I was having to part with many things I’d been using to express myself with. It was hard to be firm in letting go of some things, though I am not a hoarder or a “thing keeper” like you may think. However, getting rid of china, silverware and stemware meant that I was also surrendering my right to be a hostess to my family. That now there would be no more private gathers for my children and their beloveds and myself. I would never be able to rebuild that part of living again. It hurt, and I was devastated in having to give up those hopes and dreams along with the things that would enable them.
The same was true of the furniture. I was facing the reality that I’d never be able to afford a home that I’d be able to use a Queen sized bed in. Nor would I have room for the furniture that I had using to make it personal. Decorations for the holidays and seasons were winnowed down to three plastic bins and a Christmas tree. Pictures on the wall had to go to Goodwill, or happily passed along to family members who found value with them.
Someday, I hoped I would have a better job and could begin life again – but only with whatever I could afford to buy. I had no money for storage fees, and I had to face the reality that I might never find a really good job again. I was just too close to my 60th birthday. At the time that I was packing things up, I had only found a retail job near my son’s home. I thank God for it, but it paid me only a minimum wage, and that wasn’t enough. I was facing the reality of having to move into a homeless shelter by March of 2014 (my son had lost his job just before I’d come to stay with him), unless my son or I found something significant by the middle of the month.
I was on the edge of great failure, and it wouldn’t take much to fall in. I had a car that was in scary condition that I depended on for job interviews and as a means to get to a job. Where I live, there is no mass transportation for even shopping excursions, let alone for getting to a job. My son was in the same position, having had his vehicle repossessed, and then having to use his tax refund to get a car that was barely working.
I really dislike having to say that God seems to wait until we have prepared for failure before He brings success; but it’s true more often than not in my life. I got a job in April, that has me driving an hour one way, but pays three times what I was earning in retail. It’s easier on my health, and it uses the skills I love to use in a job situation (word processing, spreadsheets, document creation, and graphic editing). Since it is a contractor position (paid through a staffing agency), I have no paid vacations or benefits. I use the Affordable Care Act to find insurance that is not really affordable, but is honestly only good for crisis management should I get seriously ill. I can’t afford to buy my meds, because they all apply to the $5500.00 deductible. I am trusting God about this more than I will complain.
My car died in May, and I found a dealership that was able to sell me a car at dizzingly high interest rates; but I got a vehicle and I could keep my job! I have been in a “recovery process” through all of this time, and life has had some wonderful moments in this past year. I have had some challenging setbacks, too.
First – the rewarding joys: The son I was staying with found several temp jobs, with one still using him as a zip line tour guide. It’s not good for a man to be idle, and he’s been very busy building his life in a different direction than he’d thought of before. He’s now also a father, and I love seeing how that has changed his world view as well as his decisions on what he should do next.
My other son is the eldest. He and his wife have been doing well, I’m grateful to say, and they were hugely helpful as the winter went by. Mostly, they gave us money gifts that didn’t need to be paid back – and that meant so much that I can’t explain it fully enough in the heartfelt terms that would be sufficient. They blessed us when we were feeling worthless. My firstborn lost time with his work, while he went through important knee surgery, too. Since he works with concrete construction, this was a critical incident, and we prayed him through it.
In November, I found I was to be “furloughed” for six weeks. When you have bills all planned in a recovery budget – this was horrific news. When you toss in a gifting holiday for extra stress – it’s pretty bad. I feel like a whiner, since God was faithful to help me through this time – but always just as I was prepared to give up, since I’d gone as far as I could go with what little He had provided. I am ever mindful of the reality that others have suffered much more anguished trials than I have this past year. However, I also know that I have a lot to learn about trusting God when I live on the edge of a recovery process.
I don’t have smooth words, or what I call “bumper sticker” theology phrases that will mean anything helpful for anyone on the brink of failure. I despise those who think that they have them for me. My life won’t fit into YOUR box. Stop forcing it, or insisting that it does when we talk. Don’t be surprised if I begin avoiding you if that’s all you have to offer. I have learned what you have is destructive to my sense of health. I only feel like God doesn’t care when your words are so empty and unhelpful; especially if that’s all you have to offer. I am not angry at you – but I am in survival mode, and I can’t use any energy on you. I have so little left after meeting the day’s demands.
I have moved into a nice one bedroom apartment in this town so far from family and friends. It is the best place to be to get to the job AND the family and friends, though – so here I stay. I am still feeling traumatized and frightened about my job, my health and my home – but it’s getting better.
I need to be in a secure place in my life before I can blog. So, I haven’t been able to write much here this past year. I pray that I’ll have more time for it as we move into 2015. We’ll have to wait and see.
Verse of the Year: For I, the LORD your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ Isaiah 41.:13