Peace Beyond Comprehension — A season of unemployment produces unexpected blessings

12/04/2014 .
Jen Manglos  .  Guest Storyteller

After 17 years at the same job, Elizabeth Hayden was shocked the day she was laid off. Despite the disorientation of losing her job, she felt confident that she would be back to work within a few months. The months piled up. Job opportunity after job opportunity fell through. Soon, it was over a year since being laid off and she was still unemployed. Even though she tried to remember that her identity did not lie in her job, she couldn’t help but feeling as though she was losing part of herself. Yet Elizabeth found something unexpected in this season of unemployment. Peace.

At the same time she lost her job, Elizabeth became a member at the Rancho Capistrano campus. Describing herself as a bit of a prodigal, she always had faith in God, but struggled to follow him consistently. However, even in the darkest, lowest parts of her life, she knew God would get her through this. From that first day of unemployment, she experienced God’s peace in such tangible ways — ways beyond her comprehension.

 As she became more involved at Rancho Capistrano, Elizabeth wanted to refocus on her relationship with God. She was serving with the women’s ministry and Saddleback Kids, but also wanted to connect with God in ways she hadn’t done for a long time. One day at church, she heard about the Retreat Ministry at Rancho Capistrano and thought that might be a good place to start.

Elizabeth describes the retreat center as a “God-touched property.” She loved the opportunity for time and space to connect with God without the interruptions of daily life. A self-described “serial retreater,” Elizabeth took regular time during her season of unemployment to get away with God and be refreshed. She learned a lot about herself, but also connected with God in different ways, discovering new found-freedom in Christ. It soon became important for her to break away, even for half a day, to set aside dedicated time to be alone with God.  

One year into the job hunt, Elizabeth was offered a position. It sounded perfect, except it would require a big move away from her family and church. Throughout the interview process, Elizabeth felt conflicted. She was out of resources and needed to be working, yet she didn’t feel peace about moving. After her many times on retreat, she knew she could look to God for his help and direction. At the last minute, her needs where met and she was given extra time to search for a job that would allow her to continue living in Southern California.

Last July, Elizabeth’s job hunt came to an end when she was offered the position of Director of Administration for a local retirement consulting firm. After 20 months, she gladly resigned the position of "job hunter," but she took with her a renewed relationship with God and a deep sense of gratitude for all his provisions. Each day she thanks him for her new job and that she still gets to be so close to her family and friends at church. “God has good plans for our lives,” says Elizabeth. “We simply cannot see the big picture from where we sit.”

To learn more about upcoming retreats, click here to visit Saddleback’s Retreat Ministry website.