Every Monday has been the same for more than two years. Wake up, coffee, check email, job boards, stock market. Done. There’s a phenomenon called the “Monday Blues” for people who work long hours because their weekends are always too short. The Monday Blues begin on Sunday knowing their free time has elapsed and work begins in less than 24 hours.
For the unemployed the Monday Blues takes on a new meaning.
In full disclosure I am not exactly unemployed however for more than two years I have been unemployed/severely under employed. The other part of my Monday morning consists of checking in with a job that provides me with five hours (sometimes a little more) of work a week. It’s inconsistent work and I often end up spending my days waiting for emails that may or may not come. I do not get paid to sit and wait (nor should I) but I do spend a lot of time “off the clock” to mentally ensure myself that I stay at worst severely underemployed. (I have also with varying degrees of success secured some freelance work, but it’s sporadic at best.)
Currently, I think I am unable to grasp how mentally exhausting it is to be unemployed. Countless resumes sent to jobs I am over qualified for, qualified for and under qualified for have never been responded to. I have had two interviews – one for the current very part time job (and I knew the guy who set it up) a second was a month ago over the phone. It consisted of me lying in bed fending off dizziness and nausea from the flu so I could get through the 10 minute call. This one too was a result of a family member who knew the gentleman’s mother.
In more than two years - not one interview as a result of a submitted application. I am starting to wonder if white, Christian males in their 30s “need not apply.” Yes, through deductive reasoning you can look at my resume and figure out my age, sex, faith and race. I cannot remove the Christian university I worked at from my resume nor would I want to. I have 14 years of experience as a writer and five years next to the desk of an old-school journalist who was my editor for much of that time. I know what I’m doing.
You’d think my motivation after two-plus years would be at an all-time high. I can tell you motivation is at an all-time low. I can’t explain it. When I first lost my job (restructure/layoff) I felt a sense of excitement for a new chapter in life and every job I applied for I felt was my ticket back to work and finally finding my dream job. This was not to be the case. This is also not my first time of unemployment.
The last time I was unemployed I moved my family. Living in a new state is a nice distraction. In 2005, jobs were plentiful. Today, I have to dig and dig and companies no longer want writers. They want writers and graphic designers and web HTML coders all in one. For more than a year I have seriously pondered a new direction in life. Some days I hate writing. It’s become my enemy. It doesn’t pay the bills or make me feel productive. And other days I’m just not that good at it. I hate you! I say. It never responds.
My wife works 50-60 hour weeks and returns home exhausted every day. She does this in part to ensure her employment because of my unemployment. At home I’m like a caged tiger simply wanting to go out. When my wife comes home she simply wants to stay – home. I’m at home all the time. Yet, I hate going to the store to run errands. I don’t know why but it takes some motivation to go.
I started a blog thanks to the encouragement of a writer’s group I joined. Many of the “blogs” are essays I wrote years ago with the intention of having them published in magazines. So I began to backfill this blog with those essays. Now, I write whenever I feel compelled to write. After every essay I post I think, "We’ll that’s it. Nothing else to write about." Sometimes weeks, even a month goes by and I have nothing to write about. I toy with ending the blog. If I can’t find something to write about at least weekly I have no business writing at all.
Yesterday’s sermon at church was titled “Overcome.” Based on the title alone my first reaction was that this one is for me. My second reaction was Blech - not another overcome obstacles speech with a bunch of positive words from the Bible that will encourage me all day Sunday, ramp up my motivation and then I’ll lose it all by Monday afternoon. Ironically, the pastor said he didn’t want his sermon to be that (though he said it differently.)
I am certainly growing weary in the Lord. I pray. Other people pray. My wife says something big is coming along. Something great. I wonder why it should. I have my health. Financially, thanks to my wife, we are doing OK. My wife hasn’t left me. I have a car that works. I’m able to spend time with my parents and especially my dad who has lymphoma (something I learned three days before losing my job) and is now in remission. But I pray for direction. Something else to do. A purpose.
I am not the only one to feel abandoned by God. Dismissed by God. Forgotten by God. I am not the only one unemployed or facing long-term unemployment. I am not the only one questioning my future and pondering a career change. I am also not the only one wondering what I am going to do when I grow up when I am already grown up.
Isaiah 40:28 says the everlasting God does not become tired or weary. The next verse says he gives strength to the weary. Verse 31 continues with those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. I’m not necessarily tired of waiting (well kind of) but I am tired of wondering. I know it’s temporary. Even if it lasts for the rest of my life it’s still temporary.
Yesterday’s sermon did not ramp up my motivation. I did not leave full of excitement. What I am still learning is my comfort does not come from my circumstances it comes from God. Employed or unemployed God is enough. Even two years of unemployment with no end in sight.
At the end of the day, no matter what my circumstances are – God is enough. A total change in mindset. The renewing of my mind. Rejoice in my sufferings.
I’ll be honest – that’s not easy. But life isn’t easy either. Neither is unemployment. So, I have two choices. Take comfort in God or take discomfort in my circumstances.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1: 2-4