It doesn’t take long to discover that being unemployed quickly changes the (perceived) nature of many of your relationships. It quickly becomes evident that where once you “belonged,” now you don’t. Suddenly there is no office to go to where someone is “expecting” you. How quickly your old department and work place seems more like a foreign land than a “home.” You go to a neighborhood function where most people talk about their jobs and careers, and you feel like a conversational misfit. Suddenly, it seems as if there are a myriad of ways that all deliver the same unsettling message—you just don’t “belong” like you used to. There is a very real sense in which self-esteem, feelings of rejection, and unworthiness accompany that realization. As a result, you can easily and profoundly feel very different and very much alone.
The need to “belong” is deeply impregnated in every human soul. Roots, family, and friends (and the desire for) are all indicators of our need to “belong.” But there is another level of “belonging” that no person or organization can ever fill. One of the positive outcomes of the unemployment experience (that is, if you are open to “seeing” it that way) is the opportunity to profoundly realize at our deepest levels of consciousness that “I belong to God” (Rom. 14:7–8). That ultimately we belong to a Person, not an organization. That we have a permanent “home” apart from any workplace, and that nothing can change that relationship one iota, certainly not unemployment.
That realization rekindled a renewed awareness that, not only did I, as a follower of Jesus Christ, belong to someone else, but I belonged to my heavenly Father, who also happened to be the sovereign Lord of all creation. And not only did I “belong,” but I am “known,” totally and completely, by my Father (Ps. 139:2–4).
In the midst of being unemployed, my mind began to be inspired anew, my heart began to again beat more intensely, and my soul began to stir again with joy.
At first blush, it strikes us as so implausible that we, as children of the King, are loved with the same perfect love that the Father has for His own Son. That we are His beloved and the apple of His eye (Ps. 17:8). It is a huge thought, maybe the most important thought of all. It is a thought that can never be revisited enough. C.S. Lewis underscores this point when he observed that the most important thing about a person is their understanding of how God sees them. Everything about a person’s life is shaped by that perception.