|Taking "Wear it out" to a whole new level|
When John was unemployed in 2013, we were much more prepared.We had hardly any debt and a lot of credit that we could rely on. The kids knew they could not have certain things or go certain places, but it was not that hard on our family and did not change things that much. When we ran out of food, we qualified for food stamps and all was well.We had plenty of stored up soap, shampoo, diapers, toilet paper and all sorts of things. We did not need to ask for any help until just before John got a job.
This time, we were not at all prepared. We were paying for the birth of the baby and trying to pay down debt from the year before. We had very little soap and toiletries stored and almost no food. I have said, and am still saying that the Lord wants us to feel the full force of American poverty and the humiliation of having to ask for help. We have really had to learn, grow, and stretch in new ways. I am not worried about my kids having it too easy anymore.
The realities continue as things, you would have just bought without much thought in the past wear out and you have to really put the old pioneer adage "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," into serious use, especially the do without part. A family with a lot of kids naturally uses it up, wears it out, and often makes it do. But the do without becomes a whole new concept. You have to learn a whole new style of patience when your children break it or waste it. You wonder if you had spoiled your kids too much in the past, and should have taught them how to care for things a little better. It's hard to keep it all together and hard not to shame your kids for being the one to break the last item of its kind.
The realities continue as the kids learn to not bother asking for anything because they already know the answer. The realities come for the kids as they have to wear last year's too small clothes, something they don't like, or nothing at all. The kids have to tell their friends no about going places and doing things-- eventually their friends quit asking, just like they have. Every school fee and school event are stressful.
There is just this heavy feeling and a feeling of doom. What if unemployment does run out before that job is found?
For months you plead in prayer for help and change and a huge miracle. Sometimes, you want to stop praying. But you don't, you can't. Pray is your life line. Prayer is where you receive the strength to continue. Prayer is where you receive peace. Prayer is where you are given the knowledge that everything will be okay, even if it is not the okay you are looking for.
And the lessons come. Your kids are strong and resilient. They are not moody. It's actually kid of nice that they get excited about candy and gum for birthday presents or payment for a job well done (because food stamps cover that and you have no other resources). They find ways to make things do and reuse things. They are kind to their father and do not blame him. They have faith and expect things will be fine. They don't complain and worry about it much. Even when they were hungry for the month and a half before they got food stamps, they didn't complain much about the lack of food. They are good and strong and kind. Your kids can do this and so can you.
You learn to not listen to the criticism. You know all of the intimate details. You know that your husband is doing all he can to find a job and when you think he is not, you do what you can too. You work together. After all, when you married you knew that it would be for richer or for poorer and for health and for sickness. After a while, you work together to solve the problem. You do not complain or criticize. Anger and unkind words will not get your husband a job. But like everything else, being loyal and working together probably will fix the problem. You learn to laugh when you would rather cry.
You learn that you must forgive those who do criticize, and not speak ill of them. Life is hard for everyone.
You learn compassion. You view the difficulties that other people are facing in a new light. Knowing just how much your family needs prayer, kindness, love, and physical assistance, you find it easier to offer those things to everyone else.
I didn't know how to really pray 5 months ago. I am learning it now. I am learning to talk to God in a whole new way. I have learned how to pray and plead for others. It's something I can do to help other people. I am learning to be more accepting of our circumstances and make the best of them. The kids are learning to pray and they are learning to be patient and wait upon the Lord as we all are. We are all learning to be on our best behavior during hard times and it is becoming more of a natural response. Everyone knows anger and resentment have never solved anything.
You learn faith is the best choice and you can choose faith. Faith isn't any more magic than getting a job. Both have to be worked for. You learn that you can do hard things even if you don't want to.
Heavenly Father is teaching us. He is using trials to shape us and to make us who He wants us to be. We will continue to work to change things.
We aren't out of this yet. Things may get worse still. The holidays are approaching and John's unemployment runs out in December. We may have to sell the house and move in with my parents. That would be hard on everyone involved. But we have made it this far. We can see this to the end. We know that everything will be okay and it will. It may not be the okay we are looking for right now, but it will be okay. And in the end, we will be grateful for the stronger people we have become.