Being Willing to Endure Tough Times

Skojec Kid in Bookcase

I love Steve Skojec’s photograph of one of his sons self-crammed into the bookcase. It’s a terrifically honest shot that says, “yes, my kids get into things; the house is not perfect. We live here.” And it reminds me of the situations my sons got themselves into, and the days I thought would never pass, but now so greatly miss.

The picture is also a terrific metaphor, too; the child has climbed higher than he knew and in the process he made something of a mess. Now he is wedged in, looking for an escape from his precarious position and wondering what he had found so alluring to begin with. It could be the narrative of America’s present situation: reckless optimism coupled with relentless materialism has found us gazing down at our tumbled by-ways, and we’re not sure how to extricate ourselves from our situation.

It’s a spiritual metaphor, too: we tend to go it alone for as long as we’re succeeding, and only look for God to get us out of jams once we’ve gotten into them. Prosperity empties pews; uncertain times fill them. We love Daddy, but often forget all about him, until we really need help getting out of a jam.

The picture was an illustration to The Adventures of a Stay-at-Home Dad. His wife having been laid off, Skojec writes that he is back to looking for work.

Finances strained to the breaking point, Skojec had been unable to attend the Christening of his Godchild, or the ordination of a good friend; his family found a way to get him to his sister’s wedding:

The stress was crushing as I boarded my flight at 5:05 AM that Thursday, and by the time I’d arrived that evening I was getting a service cutoff notice for one of my utilities.

So I did the only thing I could do. I begged God to take it. To help me carry this cross that I was shouldering. I asked Him if I could please put the situation in His hands so I could just be with my family, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. I am not an abandoner by nature. I want to be, but I never seem to be able to let go. I struggle with trust, always fearing that if I do, I will be disappointed. But in this instance, there was no other choice. I had to follow the old adage: “Let go, and let God.”

And so I did. I watched my beautiful baby sister get married. I took a couple thousand photos. I spent time with my parents and my siblings. I stayed up late, I drank, I smoked, I talked with the men and women who used to be the kids I picked on and bullied, and I reveled in who they have become. Their love for me – our love for each other – helped make me stronger. And while I was there, I was receiving e-mails with job leads, texts with offers of financial assistance, assurances of prayers from people I hadn’t seen in ages who were aware of our plight. The cross I came with didn’t go away, but it did get lighter.

These difficult times are going to teach us many things and make us more reliant upon each other and upon God. Read the whole thing, and maybe whisper up a prayer for Steve and his family, and everyone who is struggling to find work to support a household, at this time.

Prayer Meditation for Job Seekers

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • saveliberty

    Thank you for posting this. This is a beautiful story to help us allow God into our lives enough to trust Him.

  • Myssi

    Prayers going up for Steve and his family. My wonderful husband just started a new job after a layoff so I totally understand the stress.

  • Gayle Miller

    My beloved sister is losing her “senseless bureau” job as of this coming Friday. She is both sad and happy about it. She wasn’t making nearly enough to cover all her living expense which were predicated on a much larger income and she was working. However, the job itself was someone mind-numbing and did little to stimulate her on a day-to-day basis. I’m praying that she can find better!

  • TCN

    On the one hand, it is difficult to make ends meet without my old job and my husband on furlough days. On the other hand, I am home all day every day with my son, which is probably what God intended all along. Learning to listen to God is difficult, and sometimes requires difficult situations. The struggle remains, but is made lighter with God.

  • victor

    It’s also a perfect illustration of the way a dad thinks. The first impulse isn’t to get the kid down, it’s to run and grab the camera! ;-)

  • Joe Odegaard

    If you have bookshelves in your house that are high like this one, please tie them into the studs in the wall behind, so the whole thing cannot tip over and land on your kid.

  • Last Sphere

    In the midst of all of this, my oldest brother who has been estranged from me and half of our family is in the hospital in his final hours of life dying from prostate cancer that has spread to his bones.

    How ever bad your financial situation may be, just remember:

    Things could always be worse- much worse. Count your blessings.

    Your prayers would be much appreciated.

    God Bless you all.

  • Dale Price

    “It’s also a perfect illustration of the way a dad thinks. The first impulse isn’t to get the kid down, it’s to run and grab the camera!”


    I know Steve, and the funny thing is, it was his wife who snapped the shot. :)

    And, mirabile dictu: Steve just got a job offer yesterday. Thanks be to God!

  • CV

    My first, reflexive thought, as a mom, was “Oh my goodness…I hope that thing is bolted to the wall!”

    My second thought was, what a great photo. I can personally relate on many levels :-)

  • Maggie45

    Love his honesty. God bless him and all his loved ones.

    I read the following every morning before I start the day, and throughout the day.

    “Be at Peace ….. Saint Francis de Sales

    Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; Rather look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; And when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.

    Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

    Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

    For a period of time I was changing “you” to “me” but it didn’t work. ;) I was putting myself at the center instead of God. It is much more comforting to have the gentle Saint Francis de Sales assuring me of God’s love. It also reminds me of AA’s 3rd Step: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” The word CARE made all the difference in the world to me.

    I posted this prayer once before here, and a gentleman(sorry I don’t remember your name, Sir) posted that he uses it as his guidepost, I think that’s the word he used. Reading it slowly just makes my muscles relax. :)

  • Joe

    How did my kids get in that picture? They all did stuff like that.

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  • Pat Gohn

    There are many days that I feel like I am the kid in the photograph… I’ve made a mess of things and I look up to my heavenly Father to help me pick up the pieces. I still have much to learn.

    Prayers for Steve and his family, and all those who continue to seek employment in this economy.

  • Steve Skojec

    Thanks, Elizabeth, for posting this. The prayers we’ve been receiving have certainly been beneficial. One of the strangest things about this whole experience is that I’d been enduring a sort of dark night for the last couple of years, and suddenly I’m finding myself shoved right into the arms of our Heavenly Father.

    When I was fortunate enough to take classes with him, Dr. Regis Martin used to say that we encounter God under two conditions: poverty and plenitude. Unfortunately for most of us, it’s the former that causes us to turn to God more than the latter.

    Dale Price is right – I do have a job offer, and start on Monday. The pay is less than I need, but there’s potential for more, and best of all, it’s work. There’s still plenty of financial struggle left in this situation, but I no longer feel so alone in everything that was going on, which of course goes deeper than I can write about publicly. So thank you, all of you, who said even a single Ave for us. It counts. More than you know.