I gave you my loyalty, along with most of the hours of my days.
I gave you my most creative ideas and devoted commitment.
I made you my god and I worshiped you.
I trusted you to give me a pension and health insurance, a routine and co-workers.
I counted on you to protect me from the abyss of fear and financial insecurity, to pull me back from the precipice of the vast unknown.
I needed you, my job, to define my worth and status, to help me blend in and not look like a loser, to sustain me with a sense of purpose and connection.
Many of us have raised this litany in writing or prayer during that most-dreaded time of losing a job. When forsaken by a job, or a relationship, or an addiction, or any other part of life that we inadvertently turned into a god, the call to discover what doesn't forsake us becomes thunderous.
Perhaps the ones who don't forsake us are:
• Our pastors. They can listen and sit quietly while we cry. Despite our embarrassment, we are somehow liberated by our emotional outpouring.
• Our friends. Not running away amid grief, envy and panic takes guts. Yet that's what our most faithful friends manage to do, proving that friendship isn't measured by bullet points on a résumé.
Our friends often stand by us because of things they learned during hard times. We count on them to know how humbling it feels to give so little and need so much.
• Our comrades. Our disconnectedness is what connects us to others who have lost their jobs. Each week we meet at a café and try not to be spooked by the fear in one another's eyes. We look instead to the employment sites on our screens. Whether or not each seed we plant bears fruit, for a moment we walk the rows side-by-side to plant them. Knowing that our fellow nonworkers have faith in us emboldens us to keep supporting them.
• God. On that awful layoff day when the notices went out, our jobs didn't save us from change. Nor did they protect us from the brink of economic and emotional despair. We probably blamed God for a while, along with others. We wondered bitterly, "Shouldn't believing in God vaccinate us from the randomness of the universe?"
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