Our family is now officially entering Week 16 of unemployment. Hunky Hubby (HH) has exerted a heroic effort securing temporary work along the way. But the last three weeks have been a particular struggle as the already slow flow of available Temp jobs first turned into a trickle, and then dried up altogether. “Employment” seems to be a rare island oasis in an otherwise vast and endless desert.
According to the pollsters and statisticians, we aren’t alone. Our family is just one of thousands who have fallen victim to the ‘job drought’ – aka, “economic downturn”.
So, what is one to do in this situation? The title of this post offers one popular choice. The phrase “Basket Case” is a strange colloquialism which – according to one website – originated during World War I when soldiers who ended up with quad amputations would have to be carried around in baskets the rest of their lives (a horrifying prospect). What is interesting to note from reading the history is that the FEAR of becoming a basket case was much greater than the actual reality. In modern America, the term “basket case” tends to identify someone who is figuratively ‘falling to pieces’ due to an upsetting or traumatic experience.
I believe America is currently experiencing an outbreak of what I’m dubbing ‘Basket-Case Syndrome’.
There appears to be four stages to this malady.
1. Holding the Pieces Together
2. Falling to pieces
3. Putting the pieces back together again
4. Having all the pieces, but living with a CONSTANT FEAR of losing them.
Perhaps Stage 4 is the worst! But, all equate to one enormous ball of stress.
There are plenty of ‘lost appendages’ and ‘broken parts’ to justify the stress. The economy is failing, banks are failing, loans are failing, families are failing. Unemployment and forclosure is skyrocketing while morale is plummeting. Looming above it all is a seemingly endless War, combined with a chaotic Presidential election….
It’s no wonder the Nation’s economic, physical, mental, spiritual, and moral health is at death’s door.
True story: I went to get a manicure yesterday, justifying that it would be well worth the extra expense to escape for an hour of peace and relaxation. Ha! What was I thinking? I ended up listening to an hour of intense political debate between three outspoken women getting their weekly pedicures!
However, (please don’t stop reading yet) There is a light at the end of this post. Today I came across a talk by one of my favorite women who offered a different and refreshing perspective, along with the remedy for ‘Basket Case Syndrome’.
Listen To: “Count Your Many Blessings”
Bonnie D. Parkin, Former President of the Latter-day Saint General Women’s Relief Society from 2002-2007
“Let me share a sweet story with you. A family was going through a difficult time. It was hard for them not to focus on their challenges. The mother wrote: “Our world had completely crumpled, so we turned to Heavenly Father for guidance. Almost immediately we realized that we were surrounded by goodness and were being cheered on from every side. We began as a family to express our gratitude to each other as well as to the Lord daily. A close friend pointed out to me that our family’s ‘blessing basket’ was overflowing. From that conversation came a sort of game, which my children and I grew to love. Before family prayer each night we would talk about how our day had gone and then share with each other all of the many blessings that had been added to our ‘blessing basket.’ The more we expressed gratitude, the more there was to be grateful for. We felt the love of the Lord in a significant way as opportunities for growth presented themselves.” (Excerpts from “Gratitude: A Path To Happiness” Ensign June 2007)
Did you catch what the elusive ‘cure’ for ‘Basket-Case Syndrome’ is?
It’s in short supply these days. But fortunately, each of us have the power to internally generate more. Sister Parkin even offers a fun ‘How-To’ tip for gathering Gratitude.
Here are some things I would add to my “Blessings Basket” today – in no particular order:
1. The grass in front of our home is completely dead.
The sprinkler system broke, of course, the day before HH got his “departure ticket”. Fixing the sprinklers suddenly was no longer a high priority. In fact, it received NO priority. However, I can definitely add this to the basket and find gratitude, oddly enough!
a. We are saving wear and tear on our new lawn mower!
b. HH is happy to relinquish one more weekly chore.
c. We are doing our part to conserve oil in this time of crises.
d. There is a bit of perverse pleasure annoying the neighbors by no longer attempting to “keep up appearances”.
e. I hear that grass tends to be pretty forgiving for neglect and thus am confident that next year our yard will be the new BH&G poster child (well, ok, maybe not – but at least it wont be dead).
2. I am grateful for our home. Wow! We are just so blessed to have one!
3. I am grateful for food. We were blessed to have a little storage in our basement. Then, when that got low, we were blessed for the tender mercies of the church. The Bishop’s storehouse, and the LDS Church Welfare program is brilliant. Words cannot express my gratitude for the help that is in place for families who go through a rough patch. Whether it is a need for food, clothing, employment, or other services – there are people just a phone call away waiting and eager to give assistance. One Sunday each month is designated as a church-wide ‘fast day’. Members go without two consecutive meals and then make a donation to the Fast Offering fund. This one simple act of faith is able to provide amazing services in time of need – not only to members of our own church, but to the entire world. (To any of you who paid fast offerings this month, thank you for feeding my family.)
4. I am grateful for the blessing of health! All four of us have managed to remain healthy through this ordeal so far. HH has had the stamina needed for the temporary work, job searching, and the interview process. I have had the stamina that I need to get up and go to work each day, and the the girls are making a great start on the new school year. They have been blessed with good friends and good teachers.
5. I am grateful for the City Bus. What a blessing!
a. I’ve saved over $300 a month in gas money
b. I’ve made some nice new friends and have interesting experiences!
c. I get to read anything I like for two uninterrupted hours a day!
d. I get more exercise thanks to the two mile hike between the bus stop and my home. (I think my pants might be a little looser…a big slam dunk in the basket!)
6. I am grateful for the blessing of my family, my friends, my neighbors (even the cranky ones, because it is nice to look past the withered tundra and gaze at lush green landscapes).
7. I am grateful for my dog Joey. Blissfully unaware of “economic downturn”s, Joey reminds me that the greatest joy in life is a little scratch between the ears and a good game of fetch (which, by-the-way happens to be much more fast and furious on dead lawn!).
I won’t bore you with the rest of my blessings list. The addage holds true that the more blessings we count, the more come into our mind…and pretty soon our “basket runneth over”, so-to-speak!
What will you be adding to your “Blessing Basket”?
I have learned to count my blessings each and every day. I have a little jar in my curio cabinet. It says the words blessings on it. I remember years ago reading a book about writing your blessings down in a gratitude journal. I have a journal That I write down both the good things and the bad things that have occured in my life. I am grateful for lots of things in my life. Most of all I am grateful God spared my life last year when I was rear ended by a semi. My life is full of pain but I am alive. That is a blessing within itself.
My heart goes out to you. I wish I could share from my wife’s point of view how she felt and how she dealt with this as we went through seven months of unemployment. The fears are real. The heartache is real. The worry, disappointment and frustration take their toll. It can easily cause one to become a basket case. Like you, we had to let some things go. But in the end, the reward was more than worth the struggle.
I would take temp jobs at less than half of what I used to make while continuing to send out resumes and search the online job sites. Carol continued to work and was blessed with additional sales and commissions that helped to make up the loss of my income. Unemployment benefits did not nearly compensate for what I used to make.
Every day for six months I made phone calls and sent out resumes. Every week I went to the temple and then went to the local LDS employment center for training on how to conduct a job search and how to interview well. I thought I already knew how but it was an act of faith on my part to show the Lord that I would do all within my power to obtain employment.
I could not understand how I could have good interviews one after another and not get offers. Then one day, after six months, just when we were ready to give up and go live elsewhere, out of the blue, I received a call from the same man who had helped me get my last job. He had another opportunity and wondered if I was interested.
The phone interview went well, but they wanted to meet on a Sunday for the in-person interview. We thought and prayed about it and felt that it would be OK. It was. I got the offer and started work a week or two later. The job has turned out to be the best ever because I get to work from home most of the time to support Carol in her journey that she is dealing with right now.
I never would have imagined a company paying me a good salary to do work that I enjoy and let me do it from my home the majority of the time. I think the Lord knew that I needed this blessing but it took seven months of constant effort on my part to be ready to receive the blessing. The Lord knows what we need and is willing to provide it for us as long as we are faithful in asking for it.
All I can recommend is that you continue to do all the things that keep everything together – prayer, gospel study, temple attendance, magnifying callings and lots of fasting and acts of service to others. I had just been called as the High Priest group leader when I was laid off. The Stake President promised me that I would be able to provide for my family as long as I magnified my calling. He was right. It all worked out.
God bless you and your family as you pass through this trial. I know what you are going through and yet I can’t appreciate it exactly because of the frustration and feelings of being powerless as you depend on another and wait on the Lord. I am so looking forward to General Conference next week and will be thinking of you and your situation as I hear the choir sing. I know we will all be blessed. You are in our thoughts and prayers. You will be stronger for this.
Deliveryqueen – thank you for sharing the wonderful ways you count your blessings! I love the little jar idea – and writing them down is so important, too! Not only do we leave something positive for our future generations to learn from, but we also personally benefit as over time we can look back and see clearly how the hand of God worked in our lives.
Tim – thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, and sharing your personal perspective! You have painted a very vivid description of our current reality. HH and I have actually been down this road before a few times during our 19 years of marriage (the longest stint was actually 8 months!) We have also found that a better job was always waiting on the other side. Luckily, I have employment this time around which provides health insurance benefits (another blessing for my basket) – so there will be no outrageous COBRA payments.
We each will get assigned “character building” experiences in our lives. I truly believe the key is to keep a positive attitude! Things have a way of always working out in the end, as your own story so beautifully illustrates. There are so many tender mercies which come during these journeys. What a wonderful opportunity we hve to fill up our “Baskets”! 🙂
Oh, this post brings back so many memories for me. Just when our youngest daughter was starting kindergarten, my HH was suddenly out of work when the bottom fell out of the construction industry around 1980 (kind of like now). I’m an RN and definitely had the most marketable skill, so my time at home ended and I went back to work. It was 10 months before HH found meaningful employment, but he went from job to job until 1991 when he finally found his present job. There have been so many challenges and an equal, if not greater, number of blessings through the years. There were things like money coming from sources we didn’t expect, little gifts being left by the front door, kind acts of friends, and little events that reminded us that Heavenly Father was mindful of our struggles and continued to love us.
Miraculously, through all that time we were never late with our house payment, never went hungry, always paid our tithing, and had all we needed. Wants were put aside, but that was OK. We all learned many lessons.
I pray that this trial will soon be over for your family. In the meantime, I think you understand what to do. I loved the video of “Count Your Blessings”!
I was unemployed and homeless with four children on more than one occasion. One of the biggest blessings that came from my experiences was getting to know the Lord intimately in my extremities. It is true that the world is shaky and things don’t look so good right now, but my experiences taught me that no matter what, everything would turn out OK if I put my trust in Him.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy way acknowledge Him and He will direct thy path. Proverbs 3: 5-6
I will keep you in my prayers.
I love your gratitude basket idea.
PS. If you would like some suggestions (from my work) to get quick cash now email me
Margaret & Janet – thank you so much for sharing your experiences and faith. Your comments are greatly appreciated
I love that talk. Afer hearing that, we decided to start our own family tradition of sharing what we are grateful for that day. We also recently started having our daughters thank each other for something, so that they can learn to serve each other.
I am sorry to hear about your husband’s work situation. I know you already know that the Lord can turn all things to our good, but it takes some effort to keep that perspective in the midst of the trial. In any case, I’m much happier to see my fast offerings go to help your family than to see the outrageous amount I pay in taxes go to line the pockets of politicians and lobbyists. The Lord’s system truly is inspired.
Your family will be in my prayers, and I know the Lord will bless you for your service.
Thank you for sharing your heart with your incredible ability to put your feelings into words. The Lord has a way of shaping us-each one in such unique and sometimes painful ways. When I am a “basket case” I hang on to the truth that there are specific things the Lord wants me to learn about myself and those around me–so I search for what it is He wants me to learn. . .those things become my BIGGEST blessings of all!!
You and your family are such a blessing in my life. And I am SO grateful. The Lord is providing just what your family needs. . . Trust in that. You are in my prayers.