“What are we going to do?” I asked my husband, Shawn, for what felt like the thousandth time. Since moving to Pennsylvania from New Jersey it seemed as if everything had gone wrong. I had lost my job, and there was even worse news: Shawn’s union was going on strike. Until management at his company agreed to a contract the union could approve of, Shawn was no longer a support analyst. “How are we going to live on no income?”
“We still have some savings,” Shawn said.
But not much. We’d used most of it to buy our new house, and now we were paying a mortgage. On top of everything else I was pregnant with our ﬁrst child.
Shawn received a schedule for picketing every week. With him out of the house, I had a lot of time to worry about what an extended strike would mean for our family. “Our savings won’t cover the mortgage for long,” I told my mother over the phone. “We could lose our house.”
“God will provide,” Mom assured me. “Ellie’s here, and we’ll start praying right away.”
Ellie was one of my mother’s best friends. She was like an aunt to me. “I understand exactly how you’re feeling,” she said, taking the phone from Mom. “Try to remember the blessings in your life. Like that new baby.”
Two weeks after the strike began, we learned that the company was cutting off our health insurance. “I’ll have to cancel my monthly doctor’s visit,” I told Shawn. “Anything medical will be out of pocket. What if there’s an emergency?”
“The strike can’t last forever,” Shawn said, but of course he was nervous too.
I asked friends on Facebook to pray for us, but the truth was I’d never felt so abandoned by God. One afternoon I sat staring at our bank balance. I’d just paid a tax bill that drained almost all that was left of our savings. My job, Shawn’s job, our medical insurance—one by one, they’d all been stolen from us. Stolen was the only word I could think of to describe it. Soon we’d have no house either.
I turned off the computer and shufﬂed through the mail. I didn’t want to open anything that seemed to be a bill, so I opened the big envelope that looked like a card. “Congratulations on your new baby,” it read. It was from Ellie. Inside it she had written, “Don’t let anyone steal your baby joy.”
She’d used the same word I had to describe what had been taken from me. It was all I thought about. Yet I hadn’t even noticed that my joy had been stolen too. Who had taken that away? Who was responsible for that loss? It was I who had chosen to focus on my worries instead of the wonderful things I had in my life. I couldn’t do much about our circumstances, but I could do something about my attitude.
“I’ve made a vow,” I told Shawn when he ﬁnished picketing that evening. “From now on I’m not going to let anything steal my joy—or my faith. There are better things on the horizon. I just don’t know about them yet. God’s going to work a miracle for us, and I want to be ready to receive it.”
Shawn was glad to see my positivity return. Seven weeks after the strike began, it came to an end. I resumed regular visits to the doctor until we became a happy family of three. I even found another job. By the time all these blessings arrived, I was more than ready for them. Before Shawn went back to work, before I found a job, even before my baby arrived I had the joy that God had given me. I would not lose it again.
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to Angels on Earth magazine.