Uncertainty in Life

“Hear me, Lord, and answer me,Question mark

for I am poor and oppressed.

Preserve my life, for I am loyal;

save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; pity me, Lord;

to you I call all the day.”

(Psalm 86: 1-3)

Uncertainty, it is a word that is definitely in the lexicon of any worker in the American workplace.  It is especially true for anyone who suddenly finds himself or herself laid off from the job, unemployed.  There was a time that the longer you were with a particular company or firm, the more certain you were that your position was reasonably safe.  In today’s business world, that is no longer the case.  Five years or nineteen years on the job, we all can find ourselves escorted out of the office, with our personal belongings in a box or bag.  We all can be standing on the street, wondering, what next?  We all can be struggling with the sudden loss of certainty in our lives.

I was laid off in January, 2015, and I have been on the job search since then.  I have been scanning the Web, looking at online job boards, filling out electronic job applications, and sending them out.  Checking my e-mail box daily, and hoping that the phone will ring; and so far there have been no hits.  I get dressed up and go to job fairs; I walk around scanning the tables.  If I am lucky, I might find one table that offers possible positions that match my knowledge and experience.  So I leave a resume, and hope for a call.  In the meantime, my wife and I are taking steps to reduce the draw on our resources.  So what our lifestyle will be in the future is also uncertain.

There can be so much uncertainty in one’s life, that it can wear a person down, and there are times that I can identify with the psalmist who the above words.  These are the times when I turn to prayer, to reflection on Scripture, reflecting on the beauty of God’s Creation, to let a little light in, and experience some hope, some peace; the peace that comes only from God.

State of My Year!

“Answer when I call, my saving God.2015 calendar

In my troubles, you cleared a way;

Show me favor, hear my prayer.

Know that the Lord works wonders for the faithful;

the Lord hears when I call out.

Tremble and do not sin;

upon your beds ponder in silence.

Offer fitting sacrifice

And trust in the Lord.

Many say, ‘May we see better times!

Lord, show us the light of your face!’

But you have given my heart more joy

than they have when grain and wine abound.

In peace I shall both lie down and sleep

For you alone, Lord, make me secure.”

(Psalm 4: 2, 4-9)

WordPress.com has a blog that offers a “Daily Prompt,” to help bloggers come up with ideas for a post.  The one for May 19th, 2015, was “State of Your Year.”  I am responding to it today.

What is the “State of My Year?”  One could say it has been a mixed year so far, full of ups and downs.  In January, I was laid off from my job.  And I have found that the world of job searching, has changed a lot since I was last laid off from a position, over twenty years ago.  Before, it was printing up a stack of resumes, getting a pile of envelopes, rolls of stamps, and mailing those resumes to potential employers, with a well crafted cover letter.  Now, everything is online, job boards, recruiting agencies, even the company’s human resource department, it is all online.  You are either uploading your resume to an application website, or e-mailing it as an attachment.  There is rarely a telephone number, let alone the name of a person you can call to follow-up with.  I applied online dozens of times over the past four and a half months.  No takers yet; a least a few companies sent response e-mails.  Now my previous employer provided me with a very generous severance package, but that will soon be coming to an end.  Things may be getting a little tight soon.  Am I worried?  Yes, I am.  Am I in despair?  No, I am not!

The reason why is reflected in the above Pslam, I trust in the love of my God, and His care for me, and my loved ones.  It does not mean that I expect some miracle (though that would be very nice.)  But I know that in my experience of the Father’s presence in my life, I am not alone.  I know that whatever the burden I may be carrying, Jesus is helping me the load.  That no matter how dark or stormy it may get, the Holy Spirit is within me, bringing light, bringing hope, and bringing peace.  And I know that through others, God is helping through this difficult time.

One of the highlights of this year came at the Easter Vigil, where I assisted as one of the Deacons.  The church was almost pitch black, when the Pastor lit the fire, and lighted the Easter Candle.  As my fellow Deacon and I process down the main aisle, the flame was shared with the congregation, each person lighting their candle.  The church had hundreds points of light, which dispelled the darkness.  I was given the role of chanting a great Easter hymn, “The Exsultet!”  I had practiced singing this hymn, with varying degrees of success.  But now, in that pulpit, as looked out into the church, I began to chant: “Exult, let them exult, the host of heaven…Be glad, let earth be glad as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King,…knowing an end to gloom and darkness.”

The Easter story, the Easter season speaks of hope, speaks of the love of God, which dispels all anxiety, all fear, and all darkness.  Soon Christians will celebrate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came in tongues of flame, into the hearts of the disciples in Jerusalem, and into our hearts today.

I do not know what the rest of this year will bring, but I know we will get through it okay.

State of Your Year

Keep On Moving On!

Job Search Continues

“I wait patiently for God to save me;

I depend on him alone.

He alone protects and saves me;

he is my defender and I shall never be defeated.

Trust in God at all times,

my people.

Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.”

(Psalm 62: 1-2, 8)

I have posted several times about my layoff, and the aftermath.  I have written about the struggles with unemployment assistance, the uncertainty of the job search situation, and the depression that can come with the experience.  I do not want to give the impression that everything in my life is doom and gloom.  I am not alone in dealing with this new chapter in my life; there is my wife, who has supported me, and when needed, has given me a much needed kick in the ass.  There have been family members, from both sides, who have provided help and support in so many ways.  There are some members of my parishes, and parish staff, who always inquire on how I am doing, and encourage me onward!  My brother deacons continue to be very supportive; some have been an informal networking group for me.

I continue to discover, through the Career Place, and through the Web, new ways to job search; how to get my name and resume out there.  At the Career Place, whether in a workshop, or a seminar, you come to realize that you are not the only one going through this.  The thing I have to do now is to get my butt in gear.  To not just sit and rot, but to get going, to greet each day as an opportunity; not just in job searching, but in those activities that also feed my mind, body, and soul.  My job searching will continue to take priority, but also my need to just get out, walk around, get some decent exercise, and enjoy God’s Creation, especially as Spring is really beginning to dawn.  This blogging, this writing, is an outlet for my creative and reflective juices.  Also taking up the drawing pencil and paintbrush is also another approach I need to look at, and make some time for.

Finally, I need to take care of my soul, to make time for prayer.  And not just liturgical prayer, as important as it is, but also for deep personal prayer.  I need to entire that type of prayer, which opens me to experience God’s Presence in my life, to experience God’s love and care for me, as I am traveling this new road in my life.  In God, I will find my refuge during the tough times; in God, I will recognize the joy and love that is out there in the world.  So I am just going “keep on shuffling!”

Still Unemployed; Still Searching

Job SearchWell, I have been unemployed for about 3 ½ months now.  I am coming very close to the end of my severance pay.  I have been doing all the things I am supposed to do to qualify for Unemployment Assistance.  I have been sending out my resumes, hoping to hook one interview.  And the clock keeps ticking!

The last time I was laid off from a job was a little over twenty years ago!  Back then, the company I worked for provided outplacement sessions, with a counselor.  The state maintained its own unemployment assistance offices, where you had to go to each week.  While there, you applied for the next week’s benefit; presented a log of your job search activities, and was able to resolve any issues with a real human person in front of you.  While you there, you could check the hard copy listing of job openings, and schedule time on some of the center’s computers.

Now, everything is either done online, or over the telephone.  The company hired an outplacement specialist, who worked with me by phone and e-mail.  The state no longer has its own branch office, but has contracted with non-profit Career Placement agencies, to provide training on how to search for jobs online, using social media, and opportunities to improve one’s computer skills.  You now have to set up an online account with Unemployment Assistance, to make benefit requests, and keep track of your benefits.  If you need to speak with a human person, it is over the telephone, and depending on your Social Security Number, you are limited to a particular day to call.  Instead of searching the newspapers, you job search on-line; sites like: Monster, Indeed, and Simply Hired, become familiar names to you.  Companies now ask that you submit your resumes and cover letters via the Web.  There is no address to send a letter to; there is no name or telephone number to call for a follow-up.  You just get a form e-mail, confirming the receipt of your electronic job application.

I spend my mornings checking the online job search sites, and I get e-mails from them with job listings.  I have sent numerous electronic applications, and attended some job fairs.  And I have not gotten a single bite.  Come the end of May, the financial situation is going to get very tough.  My wife and I are examining possible options, her parents and our siblings have been helping out, and are brainstorming ways to help us through this.  Still, I am finding it harder and harder to sit myself in front of the computer.  And I will admit that depression, and yes, fear is reaching out for my soul.

In moments like this, I turn to prayer, whether in solitude, during the celebration of the Eucharist, or in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  And I have turned again to the Psalms:

In you, Lord, I take refuge;

Let me never be put to shame.

In your justice deliver me;

Incline your ear to me;

Make haste to rescue me!

Be my rock of refuge,

A stronghold to save me.

(Psalm 31: 1-3)