I started working a “real” job when I was 16. I worked most of the way through high school and began full time work in the summer of 1994, when I took a job with a construction company in Salem, Oregon.
There have been a few gaps in my working life since then.
The last six weeks have been the longest and most stressful moments I can remember in recent history.
Of course that’s not saying much. My memory lives in a Google search algorithm now.
On Friday I’ll get a paycheck for the first time in six weeks. To go back, we didn’t really have a nest egg or an emergency plan in place since we purchased our house a year ago and it ate up anything we did have saved up.
In six weeks we lived off Cheryl’s earnings at Applebees until she left at the end of October. We lived off the sale of various household items we needed to get rid of for our move to Anchorage, and we lived off the sale of our second car.
What amazes me is the fact that we made it through a very rough spot. Families are like small countries. They’re not easy to run, and they cost twice as much as you think they should to run.
But it wasn’t the money that helped us get through. It merely smoothed out a rough road. It was the friendships, prayers, thoughts and words of wisdom provided by some very dear friends and family.
And I mean those who really understood how hard it was at times.
It’s very easy to say, “I knew things would work out for you,” from the comfort of your reinstated 401k, salaried and glass-enclosed comfort zone.
I know it’s difficult to empathize with people in difficult situations at times and that it is sometimes hard to know what to say. But saying that “you’re so talented, I knew it wouldn’t take you long to find a job,” has all the Halmark ring of a belated get-well card when you’re trying to figure out how to make a $500 stretch for you-don’t-know-how-long.
And I’d be over it, but I have a few friends who are still in the same boat I was rescued from recently. Adrift with few prospects, it’s easy to throw them an, “I know you’ll find something soon,” as you walk up the gangplank of your hallelujah boat.
Lord, help me to remember what it’s like to walk through the dark times so that I may never forget those who are walking the same pathways today and tomorrow. Help me be a light to those who are downtrodden and suffering. Let me not look over the edge of dispair and offer nothing more than words with half meanings. Let me remember the dark places so that I may be used to help guide others along the way. Make me a mapmaker, a cartographer of sorts. Let my experiences, both good and bad, serve as a book, a story, a route to follow. As much as I prayed for guidance and the clean foot prints of others to follow. Let me leave my own behind.