How unemployment can be rewarding

They call you into the office late one afternoon and the somber faces announce what is coming before anyone utters a word. Once spoken, the sentences are devastating.

Your services are no longer needed. The termination has been swift and sure. The company is moving forward but some people are being left behind. Despite decades of hard work and loyalty, you won’t be making the journey with the team. You began the day as an employee; you finish it as a statistic.

This is the end of the road. Welcome to the club nobody wants to join. You are now unemployed.

The nightmare is real. Each day you must confront one of the most difficult and numbing experiences any person can endure.

There is an overwhelming sense of exile. Ripped from the busy, thriving workplace filled with activity and meaning, you are home alone. Although resumes have been sent and applications filled out, the phone doesn’t ring. Surrounded by walls, real and imagined, the confinement is stifling.

Between feelings of disorientation and depression are moments of rage. Even worse is the terror that comes when examining long-term finances or merely trying to balance this month’s checkbook. The numbers don’t add up but the anxiety does.

You gave them the best years of your life, yet additional years remain. While there’s more behind than ahead, you’re too young to be put out to pasture. Besides, family members depend on your income. What are you going to do for an encore? How will you navigate the trail to the next chapter?

These are difficult questions facing millions of Americans in an uncertain economy. If you aren’t struggling, someone in your inner circle is down and out. What is the best strategy when confronting unemployment? What should you do if a friend, colleague or loved one has lost his job?

This time of transition, even when it is unwanted, can be a season of enormous personal growth. If you can avoid the bitterness that comes with the injustice of displacement, then change can slowly reveal its hidden merits. C.S. Lewis once said: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The sharp pain of unemployment rouses us from our comfort zone. When our predictable worlds are shattered, we no longer turn a deaf ear to priorities set aside during career-building. Life’s reappraisal can be agonizing but rewarding. Embrace the adjustment and start anew.

Simple answers are in short supply. The road back is sometimes filled with detours into the ditch and exit ramps that go nowhere. You will face rejection and disinterest from potential employers. The harshest criticism may come from the person greeting you in the mirror each morning. Learn to forgive yourself and others.