I was 7 years old and playing outside and my big brother and his friends let me play with them. Mom hadn’t cajoled them; I hadn’t whined. We ran bases with the ball zipping dangerously close to my head. We tossed around the football.
Everything was going exceptionally well, until I had to go to the bathroom. What if I returned to find the boys wouldn’t play with me anymore. Life surely would be over. Unfortunately, the potty dance wasn’t helping my playtime cred either. I had to make a decision, wet myself in front of the big boys (a group of highly discriminating 10 year olds, one of whom likely my future husband) or take a break. Never missing a beat, I ran into the house and into the first room I found (OK, it was a closet) and did my business before running back outside. It was a day of acceptance (tinged with miscreant behavior). There was no other choice…
So, why does that haunt me decades later? Perhaps for the same reason I was embarrassed by another potential error, taking wrong job. OK, this wasn’t peeing in the front-hall closet (sorry, Mom), but it was disturbing just the same.
For years, I struggled to find a job that would offer me new challenges. Soon after giving notice at my last job, where I directly supervised a number of people while juggling a bevy of meetings and editing an incredible amount of copy, my colleagues royally feted me with lunches, dinners, gifts and more compliments than my growing head could hold. Among the gifts was an iPad mini to help with my new job.
Unfortunately, I wound up using that nifty device to surf social media, check personal email, and so on. And I checked these things often, because, well, I had little else to do. I was bored. Worst, I was insignificant, a lightweight cog the gears bypassed. By the time I met with my significant other for dinner at night, I had nothing of significance to share about my day.
Depression set in, overwhelming me with hand-wringing obsessive, circular thinking. Was I going to have to call my former manager and beg for my old job? Could I? Losing me likely helped the company keep from laying off someone else. How could I have been so stupid to think I could change industries? And, what made me think God had a future for me other than the one at the newspaper?
To get answers, I increased my prayer time and decreased time with those things — Twitter, Facebook, Words with Friends, texts, television, and sometimes friends and family — that add noise to our lives, those things that make it hard to differentiate our own voices from the voice of the masses, from news feeds, from our fears, our desperation, our hopes and from most importantly our God.
Soon I realized my mistakes. Not about leaving the newspaper because it was time. It was time for me to learn new things and meet new people. It was time for me to take the skills I acquired and honed helping to grind out a daily newspaper and put them to the use in growing field. It was time for major change. The biggest change necessary? My attitude. To overstate things: I was walking through the Grand Canyon with my eyes closed. Rather than being grateful for having a job in this stagnate climate or allowing myself to get acclimated to new surroundings with fancy espresso machines, bubble hockey, flat-screen TVs and lots of free snacks, I whined.
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”
― Henry Cloud
You know the problem with my new job? It was new. I was new. The work was old and already set in motion by some very capable people. It just wasn’t my turn to Double Dutch yet. Rather, it was my turn to renew my mind after the stresses of newspaper work. Finally, I gave myself over to change, opening myself up to meet new people and hear new ideas. Before long, I was having a good time.
No longer am I wondering about my decision-making abilities but I’m wondering: Did I write that down? Is this my responsibility, his or ours? How do you do that and that and that? And, wow, that’s really cool. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that. Man, my arms are tired from waving all this smoke around and holding up these mirrors. I hope they can’t see that I’m not as great as I thought I was. And. I think. Maybe. I might be, well, happy.
Why have I had such a change of heart? It’s not because the workload increased, though it did. Neither is it because I’m doing new things, though I am. It’s because, through the grace of God, I realized this on-demand world made me impatient for a bug fix for my life. One of those quick patch jobs that, when you think about it, always winds up requiring another update and then another to fix the patch that fixed the patch. Essentially, the problem wasn’t the job. The problem was a mental security flaw that only gratitude could repair. I’m almost embarrassed I didn’t realize that sooner.
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