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Chris Fabry
Married to Andrea since 1982. We have 9 children together and none apart. Our dog's name is Tebow.
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After finding and remediating mold twice in our Colorado home, we abandoned ship in October 2008. Because of the high levels of exposure, our entire family was affected. After months of seeing different specialists for all of the problems, we came to Arizona to begin comprehensive treatment to rid our bodies of the toxic buildup. In August 2009 we moved into a larger home, four bedrooms, south of Tucson, north of Mexico. I am doing my daily radio program/ writing from that location. Thanks for praying for us. We really feel it.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012
Fear. Gut-wrenching pain. Excitement. Freedom.

These are some of the feelings my friend is probably going through today on this first day of unemployment. We worked together for many years and then I was let go. Now, 13 years later, he faces the same fate.

Since I have walked this road before, though the circumstances were certainly different, I thought I would write a few thoughts that might be helpful to him and others who are going through some upheaval in life.

On this, the first Saturday of life without a job, it’s easy to despair. You have been untethered from something that gave you security and worth for a lot of years. But your worth doesn’t come from the place that employed you, it’s much deeper than that, and you have to mine for that as if for gold.

You were placed on this planet for a purpose. There are things God had for you to accomplish that you couldn’t have if you hadn’t been employed by your former employer. But the converse is also true. There are things God has for you to accomplish you couldn’t accomplish there. That’s why you’re here, in this barren place.

You will be hit in the face each day with the feeling that you have been cut off. Put out to pasture. Rejected. You have to fight this and overcome it with the truth.

You have been given freedom.

If you’ve ever seen The Shawshank Redemption, you know how hard it is for those who have been institutionalized to go back into the regular world. I know you won’t write, “Brooks was here,” on the walls of your house, but you’ll be tempted to think, “What would it be like to be back at the old routine?”

This is why you must begin a new routine. Go for a walk early in the morning. Keep a journal. Read the Bible. Do something at the start of your day that you didn’t have time for when you had to hop in the car. You have two hours a day that you don’t have to commute. That’s freedom. That’s wonderful!

Don’t forget the coffee. I know this is something you enjoy and I don’t have to mention, really. But now you can drink it with your wife at the shop around the corner, instead of alone in the car listening to NPR or whatever you listened to while driving. And forget the White Hen Pantry. Nothing against them, but branch out to a different brand. Do something java wild.

I think your wife is going to help you see this if you don’t already, and that is, she didn’t love you because you were employed. We don’t think you’re valuable because of what you can do. (Pardon me while I don the sweater and deck shoes.) You are special. There’s no one in the world like you. And while you have a great contribution to make as you move ahead, God didn’t just make you to do stuff or accomplish things. There’s much more to it than that.

Resist the urge to think you have to “settle” for something. Some job. Some new way of life. You’re not “settling” for something, you’re searching. And each day I pray you will find something you didn’t know was out there. Some factoid. Some new snapshot of grace.

When freedom comes, it has responsibility attached to it, as well as a healthy dose of fear. It’s as old as the children of Israel wandering in the desert, thinking how great it was back in Egypt. Look at American history and you’ll find those who were resistant to leave the cozy confines of British rule and taxes.

Freedom isn’t easy. It forces you to think harder about life and the future and where you’re headed. But for some reason, God has chosen not to let someone else tell you what to do with your life.

Good. There is life here, and health, and excitement. You’re going to find something here you didn’t want to look for. Abundant life. But abundant life is messy and hard and uncertain. Unpredictable. And there are questions that will pop into your head you never wanted to ask again.

Good. Great! You’re alive. You feel something inside.

You don’t need me to tell you this, of course. You’re a lot smarter than I will ever be. But truth is truth.

This new path of life will lead you to places of the heart you may never have been. (I know you’ve been without a job before, but not at this stage of life.) Places where you thought you trusted God. Places where you thought you knew the answers. And you probably do, at least on paper, but as you enter these dark woods and you’re tempted to give in to the fear, you’ll see the truth more fully because it’s not something you just know in your head.

This is your time to explore and rejoice and lament and trust and do all the things of living you may not have done while everything was neat and tidy and ordered. And here’s the really weird thing, if you stop fighting against that feeling, the gut-busting, whirling, churning feeling you get when you wake up and realize you don’t have anywhere you have to go, when you embrace that freedom and the possibilities, even for five minutes, you’ll be on your way.

I can’t wait to see what God will grow in your heart through this time of tilling and fertilizing. The best crops grow in the burned out places of life. Or where the manure is spread the thickest. I know it’s not where you want to be. But trust me, for some reason, it’s the place you need to be.

Why? I have no earthly idea. In my own version of the world, this never would have happened. But here’s the bottom line. God is sovereign and this wasn’t an afterthought. Perhaps you’ve just been thrown into a pit by your brothers. What they meant for evil, God meant for good.

And no matter what happens from here on out, you win. The end of this exploration can only be good since he’s in charge. (I’m sounding more Reformed every day. Go figure.)

Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Get the coffee. Hug your wife. Take a walk. Clear your throat. Trust Him. And repeat as often as is necessary.


samwise said...

Great and encouraging words Chris. Praying for strength for your friend...and others who are in this same place today. i had a similar experience 7 years thing that helped me to better understand was the reality that our employment is simply an "assignment"...those things change...our identity comes not from what we do...but how we respond. life is a journey...our destination is sure, yet this side of heaven our task is to lean into where God is leading us. We are more than what we do. Jesus wasn't only a carpenter, Paul wasn't only a tentmaker nor Peter only a fisherman?

Deb Kalmbach said...

Thanks for this excellent post! So true. I still remember the gut-wrenching feelings I had when my husband lost his job/career almost 20 yr.ago. There is LIFE on the other side! Praying for your friend and his family.


Deb Kalmbach

Anonymous said...

My husband is a scientist out of work. We've gone from Fiji to the food bank in a few short years. I understand "hasn't called me." You get to a place in life where you need someone else to do the calling and not give up. You need people to "be nosy" and ask the right questions and invite you to say things you'd never otherwise say concerning your need.

Well, I'm speaking for myself. My husband, on the other hand, is a man of faith. As in, hasn't spent one moment depressed on the couch. I've never as much as seen him discouraged over this. I'm here to say that real faith is possible. I see it lived out every day in this man. He keeps me strong; I want to be like him.

We have no idea what the future holds. Nowadays if you're an older, white, well-educated male you're not likely to get hired in many places. Discrimination is still alive and well; it just looks different than it used to look.

The only thing I can offer your friend is Jesus. Because of Him we're not only surviving, but thriving. As difficult as debt and poverty have been, I like the new "us" we're becoming because of it. We may never again scale the Alps or swim with turtles, but we've grown in ways we never would have without this opportunity to learn "how to be abased." (Phil. 4:12)