Nearly 40 years ago, I found myself without a job. The area where I was living had lost several major employers. Since I had been one of the last hired, I was also among the group first laid off. The economic downturn was obvious — so a layoff was very much expected. In this situation, one quickly starts forming plans A, B and C.
Once the layoff was effective, I filed for unemployment compensation. This was an interesting exercise to be sure. As part of the process I met with an employment counselor. This person explained the process and inquired about what line of work I was in. He informed me there was no jobs available in that field. I informed him I was willing to work in another field to make a living. I was surprised by what seemed like an attempt to keep me in the system — rather than to help me out of it. I guess this is one reason I often feel that some organizations exist for the sole purpose of perpetuating the very problems they are supposed to fix. (End of rant, but perhaps a topic for a future post.)
On to plan B! Full time jobs were in short supply in the area. Relocation seemed like a viable option. I became familiar with the public library and the local college resources to assist in my search. I learned to use some high tech stuff, like microfiche. I learned that while the economy was slow, it was better in some areas of the country than others.
I purchased a $1,000 pick-up truck and packed it with what I would need in my new home, the location of which was yet to be determined. I had communicated with prospective employers by mail and phone. I had no firm offers but headed to where things seemed most promising. Funds had started to run low when I found a job. I remember feeling almost euphoric at the thought of a new start.
I rented an apartment that was a converted garage. The landlord, Lowell, was extremely understanding of my situation and allowed me to move in with just the first month’s rent and the promise to address the deposits when I received my first pay check. To show good faith, I mowed the lawn. The family I was renting from rewarded me by inviting me into their home for dinner on several occasions.
Fast forward to today. As I reflect on that time, I think about a couple questions. Firstly, I think about why I feel anxious at times about the future. When I think about where I was 40 years ago and where I am today, why does this nagging anxiety still creep in at times? The second question is this: Am I doing enough to repay the kindness of people like Lowell and so many folks I encountered along the way? Am I doing enough to assist others that may be in a place where I was 40 years ago?
I recently listened to a sermon by Derrick Scott. Derrick represents CCW of Jacksonville, Fl. His efforts in ministry are largely aimed at college students. This particular sermon talked about Pentecost and the beginning of the Church. The sermon addressed how great those 120 people that had gathered together must have felt from what they experienced. Derrick further explains the experience — while exceptional — was not designed to stay in that room. In fact, it was designed to be spread throughout the world.
What I took away from this hit home, as it addressed my second question about “doing enough.” What we have accumulated over the years in the form of resources, knowledge, and experiences needs to be shared. The opportunities are almost endless. You don’t even have to be part of a formal organization to share. It doesn’t need to be just about financial contributions, either.
Opportunity is where you find it. As Derrick said: “Let what we do in here fill the streets out there.”