(August 2019, as of this writing) has been a busy and stressful month, but I am
grateful for all God has done in my life during this time. Right now, we are in the process of
remodeling our countertops, since ours was outdated. We had waited for a month
to get it done. During that time, my family and I were tempted to question if
it would ever get done. We had to take out the kitchen sink, so we had to walk
to the laundry room sink to cook or even wash our hands. Everything in the drawers and cabinets also
had to be taken out.
Right now, I hear the workers coming in and out of our house
to set the VERY heavy countertops in our kitchen. Thankfully, the weather is nice, and not
excessively hot or cool, so opening the door outside is not a problem. Also,
the workers would not get too exhausted, since it is not excessively humid or
Not only in the matter of the countertops, but also in other
areas of my life, God has been working to show me that He is always good, even
when we, or our circumstances, are not.
I learned that:
God puts trials in our lives to grow us.
God always provides for our needs.
God always works things out for the good of
those who love Him (Romans 8:28)
First of all, God puts trials in our lives to grow us. I will be one of the first to admit; I have
an aversion to trials, mostly because of anxiety and fear that things may turn
out disastrous once I’m in the trial.
However, thinking about some of the trials that I have been in
throughout my life, even this month, I have seen that most of them have helped
me grow in my character and trust of God.
For instance, this week I worked at another location than the place I
normally work. Because I have a tendency
to get lost in place where I’m not familiar, I had someone drive me. However,
their car overheated on the way there.
Immediately in our minds, we were understandably (my co-worker more than
me) stressed out and I even was thinking that I may not be able to get to the
location at all! However, I tried to stay calm, while my co-worker asked for
help. Eventually, we were able to get to
the location we were supposed to be working at after that. Moreover, God provided someone else to drive
me back to my regular workplace safely, and a friend to take my coworker to get
his car towed and repaired. Through this
little trial, God taught me to trust Him to provide for me, and that I didn’t have
to panic or get anxious during a trial.
Sometimes, I have even found that God allows trials in our lives to
prepare us for the future. For instance, the experience with not having a
kitchen sink for a month, and even working in another location, may be
preparing me for something in my future or even to grow more versatile
Second of all, I learned that God always provides for our
needs. Even when we didn’t have a kitchen sink, God provided the laundry room
sink so that we could wash our dishes, our hands, and cook (to get the
water). When I worked in the other
location, I learned to be grateful that I am working where I am at now, and not
to gripe about it, even if others around me may be. I learned that where I’m working at now is
really a decent place to work and is the right place for my personality, my
giftedness, and the season of life I’m in right now, despite people around me
quitting or encouraging me to quit. When
God provided a job for me at my current workplace location (On how I got my
current job, click here.), He knew what He was doing, and His plan was good and
perfect for me!
Finally, God always works things out for the good of those
who love Him. Last week, I was a little
bit concerned about having to work the whole department by myself this past
Monday and Tuesday. God knew I would be
overwhelmed if I had to work those days in my normal location. So, an hour after
I was clocked in on Monday and started doing freight, one of my managers asked,
“Patricia, would you like to work at [name of other location]?
I said, “ I can’t drive far distances in locations I am not
familiar with. First of all, I don’t
have GPS. I also get lost really easily when I have to drive to places where
I’m not familiar with, but if there is someone that could drive me there and
back, I could.”
My manager replied, “if [name of a co-worker] is willing to
drive you, would you come?”
I replied, “Sure.”
So, I ended up working at the other location on Monday. After I came back to my normal workplace
location, one of my higher up managers wanted me to work at that same location
I was in Monday, and I agreed. My
anxiety over having to work the entire area by myself on Monday, and especially
Tuesday, melted away, because I didn’t really have to work the department at
all! Moreover, there were not too many
customers those days, so the area wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I
came back to work in my regular location on Wednesday with my co-worker Todd*.
This sure has been a busy and hectic week, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because God has taught me so much. Though I knew intellectually that God is good, now I can see God’s hand and His goodness more clearly in my life. May you see the goodness of God in your life as well!
*=name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual mentioned.
I wrote on April 9, 1999, when I was still in high school:
“I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being
physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could
only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it,
at least in me?” I had no hope. I was
fine physically, but I was slowly dying inside.
I’m thankful that I didn’t die or take my own life. Though I didn’t know it on April 9, about one
year later, I would find Hope. Hope that helped me through the storms, and come
out on the other side being greeted with a beaming joy and confidence that I
had only dreamed of years before. Hope has also given me drive to persevere,
even when I thought I could never make it. Hope has redeemed relationships that
I thought were forever shattered. Hope
has taken the junk in my life, and made it a treasure.
Hope was, and always is, Jesus.
Hope has given me purpose to live. Before I became a follower of Christ, I was
living aimlessly, for myself. I had adequate material things, but I never
really thought about blessing others with it.
I wanted to excel academically, but that was getting more and more
difficult, and my limitations were becoming more apparent.
With Jesus, I have realized that the world is so much bigger
than me. With Jesus, I am able to partner with Him to share His great love and
hope for a world that is looking for something bigger than the pain and the
drudgery that life often brings.
Hope has given me a light at the end of the tunnel. I still
struggle with depression occasionally, but now even in it, I have hope that God
will bring good out of even that. I have
hope, because God’s strength and light will help me overcome a depressive
episode. I have hope because God has
surrounded me with a group of people who love and care for me.
Hope has given me renewed confidence and joy that I had
never known before. Since I found Hope,
He has provided me with several communities of believers who have had my back
and who care for one another. This
support network I have had has helped me through some of the toughest times of
my life, and even helped deliver me from some really bad situations.
Hope has provided me with my current job and some great
managers, including several that believed in me enough to help me learn new
things. I want to give a shout out to my
now-former manager Elizabeth* who believed in me enough to allow me to train to
be a back-up cashier and learn some managerial tasks as well. I want to give a shout out to my now former
manager Chris* who took the chance and first hired me.
Hope has provided me a great mentor, in J, who always
believed in my abilities and was God’s message to me that He would use me to
accomplish His great will in my life.
Hope has provided me countless wonderful friends who have
put up with my depressive episodes and have helped cheer me on.
Hope has given me much hope for the future. Hope has given
me freedom from the shackles that held me back in my past.
When I was growing up, I was a naughty and very active
child. Despite my energy, I did not
really have any close friends. Back then,
I dreamed of one day going to a prestigious university, like my parents, and
getting the best grades possible. I probably thought, unconsciously, that if I
made it to a prestigious and a good university, I would then be able to get a
job that would pay me a lot of money, and thus I would win friends and
Indeed, I worked very hard in school and got decent
grades. However, I really didn’t have
passion for the content of what I studied; I just wanted to do well to please
my parents and also to be “the
I wanted to be respected and
valued. In retrospect, getting good grades at school became a sort of idol for
me. I worshipped the god of achievement,
and without it, I reasoned that I was worthless.
Then, when I was sixteen years old, I struggled through
several classes. I no longer got the grades I wanted or needed. I was even in
danger of failing a class. One of my teachers even said in so many words that
he didn’t believe I would ever amount to much in this life, probably partly due
to the fact I wasn’t doing so well in his class. I also lacked peer support. In
fact, no one in my class dared to counter what that teacher said to me. I also
I felt my family could not relate to the turmoil inside me, as they seemed to
be living a different life. In fact, in
a journal entry from April 1999, I had written, “I wish I could be more […]
effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I
don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that
greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?” I was so
depressed that I wanted an escape, maybe to even end my life.
However, several months later, God saved me from that. Fast forward a few years later, I went to
college, but not at a prestigious university which I had dreamed. After I graduated, I tried to look for work
in my field of study, but to no avail.
After that, I finally found a part-time job in retail.
There, I learned many customer service skills and other people skills I needed
to succeed. I did well there, but after
a while, I felt God calling me to somewhere else—a place where I never
thought I’d end up. It was during that
time, that God was preparing me for a new life, where He would give me more
than I could have ever dreamed.
I was so excited when I got an interview at one of the local
bookstores near where I lived! I had always dreamed of working in a
bookstore! I loved books, and the
workers there seemed nice. However, the
day of the interview, I quickly found out that I wasn’t the right fit. At this point, I didn’t think I would get
another job opportunity any time soon. The search went on.
Then, one, cold wintry day on February 25, 2016, I went with
my mom to the store I now work to buy a few things. What I did not know was that trip would
change my life forever.
I asked the HR representative the status of my resume, and
after that she offered me to interview at 1 pm.
Since I didn’t have adequate time to prepare or change into more formal
attire, my mom and I ate lunch at the mall nearby, and then I went back to the
store to get interviewed. When I got
interviewed, I was so nervous and stuttering over my words, that I thought
surely they wouldn’t accept me. To my surprise, I got a job offer! I waited
until the next day to accept, after I sought counsel from my family. On March 10, I officially started at my
Meanwhile, many people were leaving my now-former church. I
loved that church, but inside there were so many changes that it rocked the
congregation. About half of the congregation left or were in the process of
leaving. At about the same period of
time, my brother told my parents and me that he was going to go to school in
Texas to get his Master’s degree. What I
didn’t know then was my brother was going to live there permanently.
I felt, except for my new job, that my dreams were going to
be shattered all over again. I would
either have to accept the changes at my now-former church or find somewhere
different to worship. Not going to church wasn’t even an option for me. I would also have to adjust to life without some of the support of my brother.
My brother left for Texas in August 2016. The day he left,
the house felt hollow and quiet. The basement that used to be full of my
brother’s stuff was now almost bare, but habitable again. My dad went with my brother to help him move.
My mom and I remained at home. I felt numb and solemn that day. My heart felt
like there was something missing—the void where my brother’s physical
presence radiated my life.
Then, in mid-October, I said goodbye to the church that I
had been attending for about ten years.
It was very hard, as I had established so many friendships there, and
these people were like a second family to me.
Before I left to visit a church nearby, I was in tears, as I said
goodbye to some of the congregants.
However, there was a very bright spot, in the midst of all
the goodbyes, a month before I left my now-former church.
In September, I was working the swing shift, and one of my
managers, Hope* was closing with me. She
was complimenting me about my performance that day. Since I was still
part-time, I told her, “I am thinking of becoming full-time. However, Chris*,
my manager, said I should wait a while. I was wondering how long I should
wait.” Then, Hope replied, “You shouldn’t have to wait. You deserve
full-time.” Later on, or the next day,
she put me in for full-time. Later, Chris also approved my full- time status. I
was ecstatic! Because of all the
challenges that I had to face, I never dreamed I would ever get a full time job
in my life!
A month later, after I had left my former church, I visited
another church. It had many more people
than the one I had previously visited. A
friendly couple greeted me and I sat by them.
Even the pastors were friendly. The sermon that day was very
thought-provoking and relatable to what I was going through in my life. I
didn’t know yet if this was going to be my new home church, but I liked their
genuineness and their devotion to the Word of God, so I kept going. In August
of the next year, I officially became a member of my current church. Through my church, I have learned how to have
an engaging quiet time with God, how to view life more positively and
differently than most of the rest of the world, and how to forgive people who
have hurt you deeply.
God’s Perfect Plan
No, I never got the six figure salary I had dreamed of, nor
did I get into a prestigious college. However, I have been blessed with more
than I could have ever dreamed. Through my church family and people at work, I
have gained a strong support system. Also, I am still in touch with several
people from my old church, who I still consider good friends, even though they
live very far away from where I am now. Through the tough situations I find myself in
at work, God has used those to strengthen and shape my character into His. Through church, I continue to train to be
able to share the love and hope that I found in life through God and His
gracious plans for me. Yes, I still have
bad days, but overall, I have found more joy and satisfaction during these past
two years, than at any other time in my life. God has certainly blessed me with
more than I could ever dream!
I believe that most of our problems in relationships stem from an “I-deserve-better” attitude. This past Friday (at the time of this writing), a disgruntled former employee opened fire and killed five of his co-workers at a manufacturing facility, about a half hour from where I live. I attest one of the reasons why he got so angry was because he thought he truly deserved the job, and when his bosses fired him, everything in this former worker unraveled before him. Though most of us would not murder when we don’t get what we think we deserve, we can still get tempted to get similarly angry when our “rights are being violated” or we think we aren’t “getting the good we deserve in this life.” This causes us, me included, unfortunately, to become defensive and angry at those around us…and even at God. However, a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you are a follower of Christ, is, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17a) and that we don’t really deserve anything! When we have a mindset that everything good in this life is undeserved and is a gift of grace from above, this entitlement attitude starts to disappear. However, in the society we live in, especially if you live in a Western country, this entitlement attitude is deeply ingrained in us, me included, that I think we need to learn how to embrace the “gift” mentality instead. Here are some things that I have learned about why we should strive to treat whoever and whatever comes our way as gifts, not as something “owed” to us.
When we think we are entitled to someone or something, we
are not acknowledging that God really owns it all. However, when we acknowledge that everything
we get is a gift from God, we are recognizing His control and His power over
our lives—an important aspect of true worship. My pastor said today that we
must be willing to be a living sacrifice in order to truly worship God, and
part of being a sacrifice is relinquishing our rights to His control. If you work, even the money we “earn” from
your job is a gift because it is God who gave you the abilities and skills to
do your job well enough to be able to sustain employment and thus a paycheck! I
wonder if the recent shooting on Friday could have been avoided if, when the
man who shot five people at his job got fired, instead of getting angry at this
perceived injustice, he just appreciated the money he had already gotten from
his job and just appreciated the gifts he still had in his life more.
When we see everything we have as a gift, and not something
that someone “owes” us, we become more able to be content with life, even with
its caveats and imperfections. Think
about how it feels when you get a gift that you totally do not expect or
deserve. Not only are you most likely to
feel intense joy, but also, more likely, an overwhelming sense of gratitude and
humility towards the person who gave you the gift. When we strive to approach our lives the same
way, each blessing we get will cause us to feel joy and gratitude. However, when we think we are owed something
or that we “earned” something, we are not as grateful because whatever we get
is our due, anyway, or so we believe. This is why most of us get upset when we
don’t feel we are getting what we perceive is owed us. We see it as an
injustice, a violation of our moral rights.
However, if we take away the “scoreboard” in our souls of things supposedly owed us,
this anger has no longer has any place to reside, and will melt away.
When we see everyone and everything that is given to us as a
gift, we tend to value them more. For
instance, if my friend gives me something that I perceive is from his or her
heart and that is not owed me, I tend to want to take better care of it, so
that I don’t lose the preciousness of the gift.
This not only applies to material gifts, it also applies to treating
each person as a gift from above. When
we treat each person as a gift from above, instead of someone or something
disposable or suited only to meet our needs, we tend to treat them better. I have witnessed and heard in many different
workplaces, unfortunately, of people being treated like disposable objects, or
at best, tools, if you will, instead of the precious, complex image-bearers of
God they are. This mentality seems to be
growing worse and more prevalent, not only in workplaces, but also in other
social constructs as well. However, when
we go against the grain and strive to treat each person we encounter as the precious
gifts they are, we can not only touch lives, we can change the world around us
for the better.
When we acknowledge everything we get is a gift, not
something we are owed, we are most ready to worship God rightly; we are more
likely to be content and grateful with our lives, and we will value those
around us more. This week God has been
teaching me over and over again that everything I get from Him is a gift, and
not something I could really deserve or earn.
When I realize all that has been given to me, I realize that I am
blessed beyond measure by a God who gives me more than I could ever deserve.
Have you been tired, stressed, and overworked lately? Has
the joy you once had at work been drained by the people and circumstances
around you? If so, you are not alone. In
fact, according to the NIOSH report, about 40% of all workers in the U.S
reported that their jobs are “very or extremely” stressful. (source: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/pdfs/99-101.pdf?id=10.26616/NIOSHPUB99101). If you are working in a tough or a stressful
work environment, there is hope. Personally, I can relate to being stressed at
work, but when I apply these principles to how I approach my job, I find that I
become less stressed.
a good work ethic. –Yes, there have been several times during the whole of
my work career in various places where I have been tempted to quit. However,
something inside of me, probably the Spirit of God, urges me on. This has helped me continue to persevere in spite
of everything else inside of me screaming to “QUIT” or “Slack off.” Always do your best, and never let anyone
else convince you to do otherwise. If
you feel aimless or that you are just “going through the motions” at work, try
to have a mindset of trying to learn everything you can to boost your
credentials at work. This will also help you in case of layoffs, to be more
indispensable and more likely to be secure in your job, or being more easily
able to find another good job if that should happen. For instance, at my job, I
have aimed to learn how to cashier, because I know that cashiering is an
essential part of retail, and without these skills, I would be less likely to
be able to move up or be versatile in the company I work for. Now, my managers are able to use me to
cashier in case the regular cashiers call in sick or we are shorthanded.
others.—I have found that many people in various workplaces and in places
where some of my friends work are in desperate need of encouragement and validation. If you see someone going above or beyond, or
are providing their clientele with excellent service, let a manager know that.
More importantly, let the person know that they are doing a good job and that
you value them. Be specific in your compliments. Don’t just say, “ You work
very hard,” which can be good, but would mean more if you said something like,
“ Joe, I appreciate how you took care of that customer today, making sure they
had everything they needed, and making them feel valued through your patience and making sure all
their questions were answered.” If you
must criticize, assure the person that you still value them in other ways. Never put down someone just to break their
spirit. It is mean, callous, unnecessary, and ineffective in motivating people
to do their best work.
servant’s heart.—Be willing to help others where needed, without stressing
yourself out. When someone feels
overwhelmed by their work, and you are able to help them, do so. If someone is going through a tough time and
confides in you about it, offer to pray or help them in any way you can. When
Jesus washed His disciples feet, He modeled for them—and us—a model we should
all follow. We should not only model
that in church or at home, but also in the workplace. Managers, never be “too
busy” to help and guide your associates.
Associates, be willing to do what your managers says, not only to be
respectful, but also to help them through their struggles and lift a burden off
If we modeled a good work ethic, by persevering and doing
our best, if we encouraged our co-workers, bosses, and clients/customers
instead of putting them down, and if we had a servants’ heart approach to the
tasks needed to be done at work, instead of only looking to our own interests,
we could boost morale at our workplace significantly. By following these
principles, not only will we boost morale, but we also will also build our
integrity, which is something worth living for, in all areas of our lives.
It was a cold, wintry February day, right after my birthday when I got interviewed for my current job. I sensed in my spirit to ask about the status of my resume. I honestly did not think anything would happen, but when the HR coordinator told me to come back for an interview, a couple hours later, I knew there was hope.
Since I didn’t have time to go home, I couldn’t adequately
plan for the interview. When I came back to my current workplace, another
interviewee, Anastasia * was already there, and we made some small talk, as we
waited to be interviewed. Anastasia was
interviewed first, and after she came out, I was interviewed. The interviewer,
I found out later, was also going to be my manager, Chris*! I was very nervous
during the interview. All Chris asked me was, “How did you go above and beyond
for a customer.” Nervously stuttering, I answered how I made sure the
customer’s questions were answered, and how I would pray for them if they
wanted me to.
I didn’t think I was going to get the job because I was so
nervous, but to my surprise. Anastasia and I both got job offers! Anastasia
accepted immediately, but I waited until the next day to accept after seeking
counsel from my family.
During orientation, Chris kindly sat down with me to give me
my schedule for the next couple weeks. It was many more hours than I got at my
previous job. The only time I had ever worked that much, was during the
Christmas season! I was very pleased. But then Chris went on vacation for two
weeks, and everything changed….
Because I didn’t take the time to get to know Chris as a
manager or a person initially, we had many conflicts. There was always a period
where things were good again, but then there would be more conflict, that grew
more intense, as time went on. This cycle repeated itself for one and a half
years! During the worst of the conflicts, I flirted with the idea of switching
departments or even quitting my job! However, God, in His sovereignty, didn’t
allow me to follow through on these options
When the conflicts got really bad, I had also tried avoiding Chris completely, as I had dreaded seeing him every day, but that only lasted a few days. However, I knew I had a serious problem when, on my day off from work, I came to church still very upset about the situation with Chris. I was not only dreading possibly having to see him again the next day at work, but I also became consumed with thoughts of how much he had hurt me and so on. The bitterness and anger inside my heart, at the time, was like a whale about to consume its food whole!
I saw my pastor, John, and immediately sensed that I had to
seek counsel about my situation with Chris, because I was afraid if I didn’t
get help soon, I would eventually blow up at Chris, get myself disciplined and
even lose my job!
these concerns to my pastor, John*. I also told him, “I tried to be nice to my
manager, but I don’t think anything is happening.” In retrospect, I wasn’t even really working
hard in being that nice to Chris. That
is when Pastor John told me to turn to Romans 12:12-20, and Matthew
5:44-48. The particular verse, Romans
12:20, struck me. It said, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he
thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his
Then, Pastor John said, “How do
you know God is not working in Chris? Patricia, you have to trust God’s
timing. God may not bring about the
changes now, but how do you know he won’t make the changes later, in His own
perfect timing.” The verses in Matthew
5:44-48, about loving your enemy, and Romans 12:15-20, about serving someone
who you view to be the enemy, as to soften him or her, and what Pastor John
said about God’s timing, made all the difference. I had renewed hope that
things could change for the better between Chris and me. And it did!
That night, I sensed God telling
me that I should apologize to Chris for the anger and bitterness I had against
him, so I typed up an apology note to Chris for the anger and bitterness I had
held. The next day, I wanted to give it to Chris but the department manager
ended up doing it for me since another manager wanted me to straighten some
aisles in the store right that second! After my break, I caught Chris doing
freight, and asked him if he had read the note. He said he had. There, we
worked things out, and that day, things really started to become better.
After that next day, I felt so
much better and so hopeful that things would get better for us. The barrier and slime of hatred and
bitterness that I had for Chris melted away within days, if not hours, of me
talking to Pastor John. I started to be
able to look at Chris with eyes of love and compassion, and not the revulsion
and disgust that I had earlier.
However, several months later,
Chris was moved to a different area of the store altogether. I would no longer
have the opportunity to show the love and respect to him in the same capacity I
did when things were tough between us. I
was sad, but now I know having Elizabeth* come on as my new manager was part of
God’s good plan for me.
Several weeks after that, Chris
switched areas again to cover for someone else, who worked nights. However, since Chris did such a good job
covering for this other manager, the store manager kept him in that position
for almost a year.
One wintry day in February of
last year, I wanted to work overnight for Chris because many people had called
in, due to a severe blizzard ensuing outside. I felt really bad for him that he
had to do all of this work with only a few people to help him. However, when
Chris realized that I lived more than a few minutes from work and I had already
worked since two in the afternoon, he told me that working overnight that day
for him wouldn’t be a good idea. He, in essence, said “I care about my
associates. I would rather have you safely home, than to worry about getting
all this work done.” That care he had for me contributed to me being physically
safe that day. I listened to him and
went on my way, at a decent time. The
next day, the storm was so bad that I called in. Had he not cared about my safety and just let
me work for him, I don’t think I would be alive today.
After that, Chris and I got
along much better.
Then, a few months ago,
Elizabeth told me she had accepted another opportunity at another company. I
cried, as I never thought she would leave that soon, and besides that, I
considered her one of the best managers I have ever had! I was also anxious because I didn’t know who
would replace her or what would happen to our department.
Some people who know me well may think to themselves why I didn’t just quit when I felt Chris was hurting me, because when most people feel as hurt as I was, they will make sure that they never have to face that person again. They won’t take time to think about how they may have contributed to the conflict, or even think that things could ever be redeemed between them and the person who they have harbored anger and bitterness against. I confess that though I had prayed for one and a half years for things to be improved between Chris and me and for God to take away my anger and bitterness away from me, I never really thought anything would happen. God, however, in His grace,proved me wrong.
What people don’t understand is how the power of forgiveness and redemption changes you and allows you to see the light in someone you may have once hated. Upon seeing the light, you know you can never give up on that person again. You start to see beauty in that person, and the anger and revulsion will start melting away. That is how I saw Chris was worth the fight.
Epilogue: Chris is no longer with my company, but I will always remember him as someone who always worked hard and believed in me and my potential. I will never forget him. I wish him years of joy and success in wherever he ends up next in his life.