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Dec 11, 2008

Holding on to Hope and Faith in Uncertain Times


One of my newfound Blogger friends, Gary Cope from My Life on the Z List and SWVA Bloggers has recently hit some "hard" times not unlike many others in the current economic downturn.  I asked him to share a guest post because he has impressed me so much with his great attitude about the "bigger picture."  Below is Gary's guest blogpost (Thanks, Gary, for being so transparent.):



Holding on to Hope and Faith in Uncertain Times

By Gary Cope

"Times are tough. We have to let you go... today."
Those were the words of an executive at my company last Thursday morning. After 2-1/2 years on the job as a communications specialist with Luna Innovations, I was being let go along with 20 of my coworkers. I had suddenly become one of the "others." You know, as in, "that kind of thing only happens to 'other people'." Not any more ... at least not for me.
My world was rocked to its core. I lost my income, my self esteem and more importantly my health insurance that also covered my 3-year-old son. Not to mention my pride. Suddenly I was having to file for unemployment. I felt like part of me had been stolen away. I felt like less of a man, less of a father and less of a human being. I can honestly say that last Thursday was easily one of the three worst days of my life. Thank God for my family, friends and most of all, my son Nic. Thankfully, I got to see him that night at a Christmas parade and it was such an amazing feeling to see his face light up when he saw me. To feel his little arms around my neck, not knowing or caring that his dad lost his job. It was all I could do to fight back the tears.
As soon as I left the office I called my family and I shed my tears, not so much for me, but for the feeling like I had let down my son and my family. I knew that I hadn't done anything to deserve losing my job, but logic seems conspicuously absent during times like these. I admitted my fears, vented my frustrations and listened to the encouraging words of support from my parents and my friends. And then, I prayed. I prayed long and hard.
After I got home and settled down, I logged onto my computer and went right to work. I filed for unemployment online. It took about 15 minutes and was actually pretty painless and simple. Then, I turned to my social media network and started posting. First to Twitter, then to Facebook and finally to my personal blog. The first post, to Twitter, was at 9:42 a.m., Thursday morning. At 10:44 a.m., I got an e-mail from a reporter at the Associated Press who saw my Twitter post and wanted to interview me about the record job losses during the last month. Being a former journalist, I said, "Sure." She called about 15 minutes later and we talked for 15-20 minutes.
Less than four hours later, I started receiving random e-mails from people who said they saw my story on the front page of the Yahoo News Web site. Then it was Forbes, Newsweek, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, The Huffington Post - the article was everywhere. E-mails with stories from other people who had lost their jobs and felt the same things I was feeling, but had since found new work and life was getting back to normal. Other stories of loss like a guy whose girlfriend was killed in a car accident and then lost his job when tried to take time off to mourn her loss. The Facebook messages, comments and wall posts were filled with condolences and words of encouragement and support. My Twitter followers (and even some non-followers) also showed support and even offers to help me find a job. I was overwhelmed by, and grateful for the support I received in the days following the loss of my job.
I spent all day Thursday and Friday brushing up my resume and applying for several jobs. Finally, Friday evening I needed a break from the marathon job hunting grind. I stepped back from the computer and turned on the TV. Of course, the news was all about the economy and how dismal things looked. Then I saw a story about three people killed in a car accident here in Blacksburg. That's when it began to sink in. All I lost the day before was a job. Three people lost their lives that night. Three families and countless friends lost someone they loved very much, at least you would think so. And here I was a wreck about losing a job. I began to feel a little guilty for the massive pity party I threw myself the morning I got fired.
Sunday evening, while on Facebook, I saw people posting the usual Sunday night "I'm not ready to go back to work tomorrow" status updates. I used to post those, too. I didn't respond to anyone in particular ... instead, I wrote a simple message that gently reminded people to be thankful that they at least had a job to go to on Monday. It wasn't a criticism or anything of the sort. I simply wanted to remind people to take a moment and be thankful for the blessings they have in life. And in this economic crisis, having a job is truly a blessing.
My friends and family have been great - checking in on me to see how I'm doing. My family especially. They reassured me that they would not let me drown, so to speak. That's what family is for, right? I will make every effort possible to get through this on my own with no help, but it is nice to know that if I get to that point where I need it, I know that I can ask for it and it will be there. Another blessing that many people may not have.
Before I was laid off, I had planned to volunteer with some friends and coworkers at The Montgomery County Christmas Store in Christiansburg on Tuesday, Dec. 9. I debated whether or not to go, but I when I thought about the reasons for not going, they were selfish. This wasn't about me or having to face my coworkers, this was about helping others who are less fortunate than me. So, I swallowed my pride - surprisingly I didn't choke on it - and went to volunteer. The experience was nothing less than humbling. The entire evening put things into perspective for me. Though I lost my job, things could be a whole lot worse. Even with my situation, I am still unbelievably blessed. I see a light at the end of my tunnel, but for many of the people who come to the Christmas Store, they may not see that light.
I talked with one of the lead organizers of the Christmas Store and he said he seems many of the same families come through every year and they just can't seem to get on the right path in life. Why is that? I'm sure there are many reasons and every family has their own set of circumstances, but I realized that evening that I have so much for which to be thankful, even in what I perceive to be some of my darkest days.
Perception and relativity; two words that can wreak havoc on the emotions. I was chatting with a friend who was having a tough day but didn't want to really tell me about it because in her mind, her problems weren't nearly as bad relative to mine. It was at that point that I told her it was okay to tell me about her bad day. And that's where the perception comes in to play. In our own little worlds we perceive our problems to be important to the point we let them bring us down, thus our "tough days." Relatively speaking, no, maybe your problems aren't nearly as bad as someone else's, but that doesn't make your feelings and emotions any less real or important. We still need to vent, no matter how big or small our problems are - perceived or actual; relative or not.
If you are still reading this, then more power to you. I hope that you have gotten something out of my ramblings. That being said, I'd like to close with part of a conversation I had with my friend who commented on my seemingly positive attitude given my situation. I told her the following:
"The Lord has never let me down, even when I was as low as I could possibly go, He brought me back, so even though I've shed my share of tears and felt insecurities the last few days, I know that He has a better plan - it just might involve me taking a few lumps to get there."
It's my faith in God, my family and my friends that will get me through this. That doesn't mean I'm done shedding tears or that I do not have "tough days." It simply means that with my faith and my family, me and my son will get through this. It might not be easy and it might not be quick, but when it is over, we will be stronger ... our faith will be stronger.

Photo Credit:  http://www.adweek.com/adweek/photos/stylus/33243-recession.jpg

1 comment:

T said...

Wow! Amazing story!! Good luck on the job search. And like you, I do feel blessed every day. Thank God. :)

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