It happened. I just heard the words that no one ever wants to hear.
“I’m not going to be able to pay you after this week.” That’s right. There’s a pandemic, I’m single, and I have temporarily lost my income for an undetermined amount of time. It’s like I just jumped out of a plane, I’m spinning out of control, I pull the handle, and realize that my parachute isn’t going to open.
Fortunately, I do have a reserve parachute. It’s not a huge savings account. It’s my faith.
I know that sounds cheesy, but it hasn’t always been the case. I grew up Catholic and chose to leave religion and its rules behind after high school. I paid a price for that. Thankfully, I decided to pursue a relationship with God again. The wounds from the bad decisions of my past have been healed. Calling myself a follower of Jesus has been pretty easy for me since then. Sure, I’ve gone through some tough times, but none of those times threatened my overall health and security. This is where the rubber meets the road, my friends. This is a true test of my faith.
I’m choosing to put my faith into action. I’m going to do the things that I encourage others to do in times of crisis, and I’m going to trust that God will use this for His good, and mine.
For me, here’s what that looks like:
I tithed on my last paycheck. If I ever get approved, I will tithe on my unemployment check. That might sound crazy, and maybe God would give me a pass, but I believe in the principle of tithing. Malachai 3:10-11 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.” I’m choosing to believe this.
I asked for prayer, and I’m praying for others. We have over 200 employees in our company. The owner is a good man doing his best for us, but we are all losing our income until we can reopen. I just started this job and haven’t met most of the people who work there, but I can imagine the anxiety and fear that they must have. I may not know a lot about them but God does. God gave me the idea to create a spreadsheet with each of their names and reach out to over fifty people asking them to pray for two or three of our employees. It felt good to do something for other people and take my mind off of myself. I’ve been hearing back from these prayer warriors with a resounding yes and words of encouragement for me. It reminds me that I am not alone. I am filled with a shot of gratitude every time I receive an email.
I worked within the system. I applied for unemployment. The system is overwhelmed and doesn’t speak to other systems. There’s been a glitch with my claim because social security has my full middle name listed, and in other systems, it’s just my middle initial. The social security office is shut down. I can’t find my card, and I can’t get the replacement card they are asking for to process my claim. My first thought is that I’m so screwed. In a panic, I immediately texted some friends asking them to pray that this situation gets resolved. “Beginning in May, I am going to need this income to survive,” I say. I immediately felt peace as they were texting back with prayers. I spoke to a very nice woman at the office of unemployment named Kathy. She told me that I wasn’t the only one in the situation, and they were trying to work around it. She was compassionate and empathic despite having talked to hundreds of people that day. In that moment I chose to encourage her and thank her for being on the frontlines for us. I uploaded everything but the kitchen sink to prove my identity, and now I’m trying to patiently and prayerfully wait for a positive response.
As they say, I have to swallow my pride. I’ve always had issues with pride and independence. I realize that I too proudly support myself, give generously to people and causes, find solutions for my problems, and avoid asking for help. I have been completely humbled by this situation. I have no choice but to ask for help. I am one of the lucky people. Many friends and family members have offered to help me financially. On the one hand, I am feeling loved, supported, and reminded that I’m really not alone despite living alone.
On the other hand, the idea of actually taking people up on this generous offer physically hurts. I dread the day that I have to call a friend or my parents and ask them for money. I have an image of a hand going down my throat and literally grabbing this huge black, jagged chunk of pride and pulling it out me. Maybe in my case, instead of swallowing pride, I have to give up control and throw it up. Either way, I think God is using this situation to rid me of something that is deeply buried and keeps me from fully experiencing the things He has for me.
Noticing this visceral reaction shows me how deeply I believe that I have to take care of myself. It goes beyond pride in a “healthy,” independent way that most of us value. As much as American culture emphasizes providing for yourself, God says He provides for us. As much as I’d tell a friend in a similar situation that she hasn’t failed or been rejected, maybe somewhere deep down, I feel I have. I think I have more to get free from than temporary joblessness. I have a feeling God wants to heal a whole lot more.
I have no idea what is ahead for me, but I believe that I will get through this. I believe that this virus will be stopped. I believe that our company will reopen. In fact, I’m still working. I believe that I will once again make money to support myself and my dog. Until then, I choose to remain faithful in a God who is good and won’t leave me flying solo without a working parachute.