In my first entry, Married With No Children, I exhorted us to share in the likeness of Christ and His journey for us. Personally, I have recently been struggling with Christ’s calling in Ephesians, 4:31,
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
I work in a very small department of a college. Last fall, our director moved on to another school. This left me with only myself and two part-time student aides to take on all the extra work during the busiest time of the school year. My expectation was that this would be very temporary (maybe a month) and that I would be promoted.
There were days that moved so fast and were so busy, that I felt like I did not even have a chance to breathe. There were many nights that I stayed until 6, 7, even 8. And, oh, did I mention that I also commute an hour? Day after day passed this way, with no extra compensation, no title to reflect the extra responsibilities, and no recognition. It was exhausting and frustrating. I began to dread going to work. I had no energy for anything else in my life. Many self-pep talks began with, “If I can just make it until...” My health and relationships were beginning to suffer. After four months of carrying on this way, I was told I was not getting the promotion. They were giving the job to someone else. I called my husband immediately after I got off work that day and just sobbed.
I tried to be positive. I put on a smile for my students. I told other colleagues that it was going to be great to get fresh perspective from a new person and that I was keeping an open mind. But on the inside, I was absolutely crushed. I felt that I had been taken advantage of. Bitterness, anger, and slander were festering and growing in my heart.
Bitterness is poison. If you let bitterness grow and take root in your heart, it will destroy everything, inside and out-- A bitter root, will produce bitter fruit. I had been there before and I did not want to go back. Today, I am still working through all the emotions, and there are good days and bad. I know that I do not want to live in bitterness. Through this time, I keep coming back to Philippians 2, which says,
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”.
These words remind me that I am not entitled to anything at work. Our culture tells me that if I work hard, I deserve to be rewarded. Of course, it is okay for me to set boundaries so that I am not taken advantage of, but Christ set a different example for me. He emptied himself. He was a servant. He was humble. He was obedient even to the point of death. When I go to work every day, I want my coworkers and students to see that example. They expect me to be angry about what happened. But what if I show them a different way? I can, because I know that my reward is not in my paycheck or my title, but it is in knowing that I worked hard to serve the Lord.
And the Lord has given me an incredible and unique opportunity to be a light amongst so many different types of people -- I work with people from all over the world and from all religious backgrounds. I have told them how amazing Jesus is and why I would not want to follow anyone else. My prayer everyday is that my students will also come to know Jesus.
So, while I know it might be awhile before I feel differently about the situation, I am going to proactively choose to let my faith lead my attitude and actions. I will also let some (as appropriate) share in my journey. I have been honest with my student workers and a few students about how I feel. I’ll admit sometimes it is a fine line between needing to be honest and needing to vent. However, if I let them see the real me, they will also see the real Jesus in me-- and that is what I ultimately want.
Has anyone else had an experience like this? I would love to know about how you worked through the situation!
See you in the Round!