Finance First Friday: I know what you’re thankful for…

By Suzanne McInroy

Usually when the weather begins to get warmer and the days get longer, I find my spirits lifting because spring is just around the corner. But this year, I noticed I instead felt a little sad. It didn’t take me too long to realize why. With the arrival of spring came the realization that I was headed into another season without work. It meant another season trying to plan for the unknown. It also meant the end of my unemployment insurance was getting closer and we would have to decide soon on summer care for the kids. If I’m still not working, it doesn’t make sense to pay thousands of dollars that we don’t have for child care. At the same time, if we don’t have child care, I can’t work.

This situation began a year ago. I was in a not-so-good job situation and had reached my final straw. I began looking for another job. But then in September before I had found something, my supervisor informed me that he was “going in a different direction for communications” and that direction did not include me. I had dreamed of handing in my resignation from this job, but it never looked like this. My vision of how things would go did not involve meeting with a lawyer to review a severance package. It didn’t involve getting advice from a friend on filing for unemployment. It did not involve trying to figure out how to explain this all to our kids.

As difficult as it all was, I decided to take a positive, faith-filled attitude. I took comfort in God’s words in Jeremiah, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). God’s got this, I would tell myself. He has a plan. We’re going to be fine. And for the first two months, things were fine. I began more aggressively searching for a job, and I started networking. At home, we made small financial changes to try to prepare for what was ahead, but nothing major. And then it was time to tell St. John’s how much we planned to pledge for the next year.

My husband Mark saw this as an opportunity to cut back and be a little more realistic about our current situation. He said that we could always give more than what we pledged, but he didn’t want to risk falling short of our promise. Of course, this thinking made absolute sense, but it was still hard for me. It meant admitting that my time not working might go longer than I had originally thought. You see, in my mind I would be working by January, so naturally we could pledge the same amount. I was applying for jobs and getting interviews. It was all good, I thought. God’s got this.

The holidays came and went, and with them increased expenses. January was bleak. We realized we had to get more serious about cutting costs. But at the same time, there was a glimmer of hope. I had a job interview, which turned into a writing test for the job, and eventually a final job interview. This is it, I thought. This has to be God’s plan.

But the final interview felt off. I didn’t connect with the person in the room, who I knew would make the final decision. As I left the room, I realized no one told me when I would hear more, so I quickly asked. The answer wasn’t exactly, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” but it might as well have been.

At this point, I had been through a lot, but it had all made sense. As crazy as it may sound, I felt like everything was happening for a reason and there was a plan. But now I was confused. This part didn’t make sense to me. I thought I was perfect for this job and it was perfect for me. What was I missing? For the first time in this process, I broke down crying to God. I turned to a Christian singer whose music has given me comfort these last few months and, while listening to Lauren Daigle’s “Trust in You,” I just sobbed. “What was I doing wrong?” I cried.

And then I stopped. As hard as this is, I knew I really wasn’t doing anything wrong and I just had to keep trying. I opened up my computer and I started searching for more jobs, this time widening my search a little more. The next week, I had four interviews–I was back in the game. And I plan to stay in the game until I get a job, however long that takes.

At the same time, we know we need to prepare for the reality of my unemployment payments ending so we’re meeting with our financial advisor soon. I continue to trust in God, but sometimes that also means being prepared. The financial stress has been the hardest part, but it has also provided the most important spiritual lesson of all. We are finding creative ways to stretch our dollars and becoming more aware of where our money goes. Plus, we have a greater appreciation for what we do have.

God continues to provide for us in unexpected ways–like Mark getting speaking invitations with honoraria–but the overall lesson I’ve learned came through the words of our oldest child.

As we prayed one night, I asked Oliver what he was thankful for. He said some things and then asked me the same question. A thought popped into my head, but I didn’t say it out loud. Instead he said, “I know what you’re thankful for…” “What?” I asked. “That we have all we need,” he replied. That was the exact thought that had popped into my head, but I hadn’t said it.

We might not have all that we want right now, but God is clearly providing what we need.

Thank you Suzanne for courageously and vulnerably sharing your current faith and finance story with your church family. We are praying with you.

Wherever you are financially, your story and resources will be a gift to other members of the parish. To write a post, share resources, submit an article, or do an interview please contact Sarah Dull, Executive Administrator, contact Executive Administrator, Sarah Dull.

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