(The following essay was written by Oliver Le, age 12, as a reflection on a time when his father was out of work. His father is Fr. Anthony Viet Le.)
This topic might seem weird, so I know that you’re asking the question in your head, “What’s good about not having a job?” Well, I’m going to show you. When people hear that you don’t have a job, they always give you a lot of sympathy and encouragement. Almost everybody thinks everything about it is bad, but not everything about it is bad. It may sound crazy to you, but not having a job teaches you a lot about your relationship with God. It also helps you learn to spend your money wisely, and tells you who your real friends are in your time of need. Unfortunately, I went through the experience of having my Dad out of work with my family twice. But even though the experience has been depressing and scary, especially when my mom needed surgery, it really brought us closer to God, taught us who our friends were in our time of need, and helped us to use our money wisely.
If you’re out of work you really have to be careful with your money, so that means no going out to eat, or buying new games. None of that. But what it does do is that it teaches you what you need, and what you don’t need. For instance, do I need a Playstation Move? No, I don’t need it, I might want it, but I don’t need it to survive. This is called the lust of the flesh. What the flesh wants (what we want) is totally different from what God wants for us. I’m not saying that if we can survive without it we absolutely can’t have it, I’m just expanding on saving your money. I definitely wouldn’t want a Playstation Move if it meant that my mom couldn’t have surgery. Both times my dad was out of work during Thanksgiving\Christmas time. Through the holidays people usually do special things, and buy lots of gifts. But since my Dad was out of work we had to cut back on those things.
One other good thing about Dad being out of work is that we get to spend a lot more time with him. Last summer the whole family was able to take a trip to the beach, and Kings Dominion. The way we were able to do that was awesome. We weren’t able to afford a trip to the beach, but our friends from church own a beach house and they let us use that for ten days! We were only able to go to Kings Dominion because my uncle’s company rented the whole park so we went for free! Obviously those trips were not a necessity, but in God’s humor and love for us, he provided us with those amazing experiences. Coming home from that, we looked forward to visits from our cousins in Michigan and New York. Then, all my cousins from my Mom’s side came down since my great-grandmother was hospitalized here (She is currently 94 years old and doing great). After that great confusion, my whole Dad’s side of the family came to have a reunion. Whew, did I forget anything? If my Dad was working during the summer, we probably wouldn’t have been able to visit, or be visited. The only bad thing was that, since my Dad was job-hunting constantly, he would get worried for his family and become crabby, really easily (no offense Dad).
The last and most important point I want to expand on is, how this increased my family’s relationship and mine with God. First of all, God says that he uses everything, everything, for good. He definitely used this for good. Last year I was living the good life, wasn’t challenged in school (of course I didn’t tell my Mom that, but she did find out later), I was doing well in sports, and I was making lots of friends. But then my Dad lost his job. When my brother broke the news to me, I didn’t believe him, so I asked my Dad. He confirmed what my brother said, but what really touched my heart was when my Dad told me,
“Remember what Padre Pio said, ‘Pray, hope, and don’t worry.’”