written : 12/6/18
Through all your triumph and glory
When I see the light in your soul
And I see you becoming whole
I will never give up on you
Through all the laughter and the pain
Through the joy of being with you
Through all the good times and the bad
I will never give up on you
Though at times you will fall and fail
And you want to give up and bail
Because you don’t think you’re enough
I will never give up on you
Though sometimes you drive me insane
And there are times of stress and hurt
Where some people treat you like dirt
I will never give up on you
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!
I related 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 head.”
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.
*= names changed for privacy reasons.
written on 12/27/2018
-Dedicated to I.T
Your presence shined like the sun
With joy and love, your area was run
You healed the depths of my pain
When I was going insane
You have taught me so much
About life, love, work and such
Your influence blossomed in me
‘Til your beauty I would see
But then you were gone away
Sadness and joy filled your last day
Though there is a hole in my heart
Your impact on me will never part
Tears fall from your weary eyes
As your foes plan your demise
You think you lost it all
But I’ll protect you from the fall
For you are precious to me
Your light I will always see
Your presence brightens my life
And it never causes me strife
You have given me much love
You’re a gift from up above
You give me reason to be
Because your soul shines in me
–written on November 24, 2018
Don’t let the fire inside you die
Don’t let others tear down your soul
Don’t let them kiss your dreams goodbye
Or make you feel like less than whole
Because you are worth more than gold
Even if no one told you so,
Though you do not fit into a mold
You’re beautiful from head to toe
Become all you were meant to be
Be full of compassion and love
So that people will finally see
The gift you are from up above
I have been saddened by the general climate of the world around me. So many people are hurting, and some people seem to have the need to be nasty to others. Despite it being the holiday/Christmas season, it seems that a lot of people are more stressed than ever. I think Roy L. Smith was right when he said, “If one does not have Christmas in his heart, he will never find it under a tree.”
So, how do we have Christmas in our hearts, or how can we have joy and peace this holiday season? The answer is simple, yet difficult to do: We need to love each other like we never have before. I don’t mean the mushy, romantic type love. I don’t even mean just friendship love. I mean the all-out, sacrificial, agape love!
Many around you carry deep pain and hurt inside. Some may have lost a loved one around the holidays. You may even be one of these people, and to you, I say this: There is hope when you can be vulnerable and tell a trusted friend or loved one how you have been feeling, so that you can begin to heal. Someone out there cares for you. Don’t give up.
If you are not, or if you are already in the process of healing, I say this: Do not let the stresses and pressures of life allow you to overlook these people. Do not let your heart become calloused and apathetic to the hurting people around you. Always strive to be compassionate and caring to others. It could make a world of difference in their lives, and could even save a life! Don’t just ask someone how they are doing and walk away. Listen to and try to be genuinely interested in what they have to say in response.
Always try to uplift people and encourage them. If you see a peer or co-worker doing a good job, thank them for their efforts. If someone is down on themselves, encourage them by pointing out the good you see in them. If someone thinks no one cares about them, tell them that you do and then demonstrate that love and care by doing a tangible act of kindness for them. Maybe it can be as simple as a kind, encouraging word. Or maybe it can be watching their kids, if they have children.
This can take us out of our comfort zone, especially if we don’t like some of the people we are dealing with, but it is well worth it.
Friends, let us bring joy and love to the hurting people around us today and help them experience the best Christmas or holiday ever!