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Out of the Desert

As many of you know, my husband lost his
job the beginning of March, and we’ve spent the past eight
months in a desperate search for new work. Worrying about
unemployment and health benefits was no fun with a second baby on
the way, but it was even less fun five months later as our savings
dried up and we didn’t know what was going to happen next.
Realizing we were running out of money, we put our house on the
market with nowhere to go, trusting Brian would get a job somewhere
and reasoning it was better to sell our house than simply hand it
over to the bank.

So it is with great relief that I announce that Brian’s got a
new job. It’s for a company he’s interested in, and a
position he’s very excited about. Me, I’m very excited
about the whole paycheck thing.

I think I’m going to need more
distance from all of this before I can blog too much about it
– how helpless I felt, how powerless I truly was to protect
my girls from potential dangers without our usual comfort buffer of
a steady income. I can say that my faith has not fallen, but it
definitely took a serious beating. To put your house on the market
with no idea where you’d go if it sold, to allow strangers to
traipse through your house while trying to raise a newborn, to fend
off questions from a toddler wanting to know who all those people
were: these things have all taken their toll on me, but even more
stressful was the financial side – seeing our savings get
smaller and smaller every month, getting to the point of using
ten-year-old tubes of travel-sized toothpaste to try to save money.
I am weak-kneed with relief at the thought of being able to start
building our savings back up again soon.

But even as I rejoice in our change of circumstance, I have to
acknowledge that with the powerlessness of our situation came great
freedom. We like to think as parents that we will always be able to
protect our kids, to provide for them, to solve any problem. But
once that false buffer of financial stability was stripped away,
once I truly didn’t know where my kids would sleep in a few
months, I was able to turn the responsibility of them over to God
– to surrender and trust He’d take care of them the way
He takes care of me. There’s a true freedom to be found when
I stopped pretending that I can do all of this without Him, that I
alone could provide for my girls and keep them from want.
Surrendering, letting go, and trusting – the hardest things I
ever did as a parent.

I don’t want to make it sound as if we were days away from
being on the street; we’re blessed with lots of family and
friends who were vocal in their willingness to help out, with an
extra room or an extra check if needed. So I always knew something
would be done to take care of us. But the uncertainty is agony to a
parent, especially one like me who needs to know
what’s happening next; and how galling it is to know that
your children will be clothed, but only because their grandmother
went shopping. Oh, yes, your pride takes a definite beating in a
situation like ours, and where I once would have been stiff-necked
about any suggestion of help – “Oh, I’m fine! I
can do it by myself!” – I saw yet another way your
children change you as a parent. When someone offers help for your
kids, you take it and say thank you and shut up.

So this situation, like many in life, was one of blessing as well
as adversity. To learn to hold your children a little more lightly
in the palm of your hand when every instinct inside you screams out
to clutch that fist closed and never let go is difficult, and not a
lesson we would choose. If the choice is ours to make.

I hope that I remember much from this time: how to make leftovers
stretch further than I’ve ever made them stretch; how to
fashion “new” toys out of recycled plastics; how to
make home-made granola because it’s infinitely cheaper than
store-bought. I hope I don’t forget how surprised we were to
learn that we could live pretty comfortably on a lot less than we
had been spending – and we never considered ourselves big
spenders. I know I won’t forget all the agonizing months of
job and soul searching, praying for a little relief from the
desert, just as I won’t forget my husband coming home from
his last job interview with a huge smile and an even bigger box of
chocolates for me, letting me know at a glance that the dry spell
was over.

But mostly, I hope I remember that my children are not my own
– I’m merely the steward of the lives I’ve been
entrusted with, and in the long run they’re God’s
property. At the same time, I know how much He loves me, so how
much more must He love something so good and perfect as either of
my girls. I trust in that.

I don’t have a choice not to.


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