When the Lights Go Out

Yesterday, just as I hit “publish” on my article about financial literacy, all the lights went out.

I thought it was a power outage until I saw a man getting into his truck from the electric company. My first reaction was to call my husband. He just responded with a heavy sigh but was at the doctor’s office with our daughter and couldn’t talk. He is always cool, calm and collected, especially when I overreact. I then called the light company and told them that I didn’t recieve a bill and they responded with the date that it was sent out and told me in order to reconnect our service, we would have to pay $474.00. The customer service representative was talking in that condescending tone, you know, the one that they typically use, not concerned about your predicament. I started going through the house looking for the bill when I finally found it buried under the kid’s graded papers. One of them must have grabbed the mail and put it in with their papers so I didn’t see the warning. I just sat their in deep thought asking God how we got here, blinking in the darkened room in an eery silence.

I lost my job of almost eight years in May, exactly two weeks before I was to be married. I worked at a non-profit teaching financial literacy in the inner city and I absolutely loved my job. It was my city, my community and my people. I have practically worked in almost every church, non-profit and community center in the city teaching goal planning, budgeting, the importance of saving, job development and homeownership preparation. Now, I can’t seem to find a job that will hire me. It is almost like I am wearing a scarlett letter and I don’t get it. How did I go from teaching financial literacy to having our lights disconnected from non-payment? I feel like a hypocrite for even speaking on it. But then I realize that no matter what I lose, I have not lost the knowledge and wisdom that I have gained and the ability to pass that information on to others.

I’m not immune from tribulation. As a child, we were extremely impoverished so it was rare that we had utilities connected in our home. As a young single mother in my early thirties, I was accustomed to living paycheck to paycheck. But that was a long time ago. I have literally climbed my way out of poverty by working hard and maintaining a good attitude along the way.

Like countless times in my life, my sisters came to the rescue and called one another. My middle sister called the company and paid the bill in full …like an angel in disguise. They have had a very rough year themselves. My oldest sister has had multiple surgeries and her husband has had heart problems and my middle sister’s husband facing unemployment, they both have had their own fair share of financial issues. I didn’t even feel right accepting her help. But she does not take ‘No’ for an answer.

When my husband and I were married in June, we had a very humble wedding, my dress only costing $10 from Goodwill. We did not want to go into a marriage with debt. What we didn’t anticipate is that I would lose my job two weeks before, he total his car two days before and that the final blow would be that he would be laid off four weeks after our wedding. This of course came as we blended families and doubled in size and was the same time that I had cashed out my retirement to publish my book and launch my ministry.

I often ask God …why? We are good people. We don’t desire alot. We both come from humble beginnings, we take care of our family, love Christ and give back to our community. My husband has always been a man of great sacrifice without ever complaining. He served his country over twelve years in the army, deployed twice, coaches little league football and is a great husband and father. Now my daughter is following his footsteps by also serving her country in the army. As for me, I have never stepped a foot in corporate America as would rather work in the trenches where I am from to help others tap into their potential and power within.

Since I lost my job, while I am applying tirelessly, I keep the telvision off, not wasting a single minute on soap operas, talk shows and reality TV. I invest every single minute that I am unemployed on my ministry, freelance writing and promoting my book. I have always faced fierce opposition in my faith walk as most of the people in my life are unbelievers while on my journey of reaching and stretching for the very heart of my purpose. Altering five generations of dysfunction and chaos. When you come from a place where there is little hope and you try so hard to keep that inner fire lit while walking through a hurricane, people often tell you that it is impossible and that “it can’t be done” and when you do it, it seems that they resent you for it.

My own daughter confessed in the car over the weekend that she feels horrible because she didn’t expect me to finish the book, let alone publish it, launch a ministry, magazine and publish two other books. I asked her if I have ever not followed through before? She responded with, “No. But it just seemed like a far-fetched dream for a single mom with no education and poor grammar.” I appreciated her transparency. It hit me that much of humanity thinks like she did. It is hard to see the unthinkable. We feel more comfortable in our ‘safe zone’ than stepping off with our vulnerability on display, risking everything along the way.

The only thing that makes any sense to me at all right now is that I/we are moving closer to what God has in store for us and the closer we get, the higher the heat is turned up. We are being molded in the potters hands and tried by fire and all of the impurities are being burned and singed off so that we can be fully equipped for such a huge task. Although we are newlyweds, living off of one income raising six children, we have yet to slip into poverty. We have much more than over 70% of the world’s population that do not have access to the basic need of clean drinking water, so we are grateful.

And lastly, the electric man may show up to disconnect our lights but he will never be able to disconnect the light within.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Be blessed,

Katrina

Copyright © 2011 by Katrina Smith

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6 thoughts on “When the Lights Go Out

    • Haha! I edit my own, but can’t wait to show her this. She is an uber-genious and a grammar nazi so she catches everything! Yes, I have a quite country accent and use country terms such as ain’t got, ya’ll and whatcha’ talkin’ bout often.

  1. Stay strong! How blessed you are to have the arms of your family around each other as a safety net. Like the saying goes, it’s always darkest just before the dawn. Holding you and your extended family in my prayers, Katrina ♥

  2. Hello Katrina,
    I am feeling the economic bite myself.

    It is funny, my wife made a similar comment about my grammar when I wrote my story,

    I replied that my characters have poor grammar and quickly changed the subject.

    It is true that God puts us through the wringer, but He never leaves us completely broken, unless that is what it takes to get our attention.

    We are funny creatures, we are not likely to be in contact with God on our own initiative, and we are fickle in maintaining that contact. He knows all about this, and how we are waylaid by the distractions of everyday life. He loves us and sustains us anyway, bless Him.

    Bless you for your transparency.

    Nathan

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