Unexpected Job Loss

The company I work for has recently announced layoffs and, unfortunately, I got word that my position is being eliminated. Fortunately, I am receiving a severance package equal to three months' salary, so we'll be able to manage in the short term. Do you have any suggestions to help us get through this challenging period?

The weaknesses in the economy over the past few years continue to take a heavy toll, especially when we add to that the impact of a rapidly changing global, information-based economy.

It would be difficult to overstate the physical, emotional and financial challenges a family must endure when faced with unemployment. It is important during a difficult time like this to remember that, even though the secular world often determines a person's self-worth by what he does, the essence of our self-worth is that we have been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). While work is a good thing and we are called to perform our best, it is important to recall that “work is for man, and not man for work” (Catechism, No. 2428; Laborem Exercens, p. 17). Maintain a positive outlook and apply yourself diligently to the task of finding a new job.

Take stock of your finances immediately and cut back on spending wherever possible. It's easy to maintain the same lifestyle for awhile with credit cards, but you'll be digging a hole that will be difficult to climb out of.

When it comes to financial need, the common refrain I heard was, “Thank God for family!” The couples I spoke with were most comfortable presenting their needs to their immediate families first. If friends want to help, I recommend that it be an anonymous gift rather than a loan. The gift could be considered as part of the tithe.

Networking continues to be the best way to find a job. Most jobs come through someone you know, so make sure your friends are aware of your situation.

On one hand, don't allow pride to stop you from taking a position that doesn't meet your expectations, especially when your family's financial needs require it. On the other hand, don't jump at any offer too quickly just to get a job. This is a difficult balancing act that requires you to weigh your talents with the availability of jobs utilizing those talents.

Take this opportunity to assess your career. Is it possible to apply your talents in a different way than you have in the past? I have had friends who were able to transition very successfully from one career (retail sales) to another career (outside sales) after experiencing a job loss.

Finally, ask for heavenly help. Remember that St. Joseph had to deal with a sudden job change, so he can relate to all of our struggles. As the patron saint of workers, he will carry your petitions to our loving Father.

God love you!

One of our readers sent in this prayer:

O glorious St. Joseph, you who have power to render possible things which are impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress. Take this important and difficult affair under your particular protection, that it may end happily. O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in you. Let it not be said that we have invoked you in vain, and since you are so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that your goodness equals your power. Amen.

Phil Lenahan is director of finance for Catholic Answers in El Cajon, California.

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