It is time for me to say where I work at, I feel.
A capoeira friend asked me last year where I worked, and I was so embarrassed I didn’t want to say. She responded, do you work at a gentlemen’s club?
While I found that humorous, I obviously found it troubling that I was embarrassed about my job.
After a long and winding journey – 8 months now? – I am finally not ashamed and embarrassed. I have seen more clearly and understood, finally. I am ready, and must own up to the fact that I am proud to be where I am.
Why was I embarrassed? My organisation is often painted by the mainstream media as a self-righteous, right-wing, angry, unloving, uptight, wowser sort of moral campaigner group. I am not inclined at all to become such a person, are you? 😛
Luckily, I needed a job, so I stayed. And as is my habit, I work hard and do my best at every job I am given. Such is life, I tell you, that these good habits are always rewarded in some way.
Over the months, I have discovered that my work colleagues, my bosses…you know, they are just some of the most compassionate people I have ever known. Yes I am young, and you shouldn’t trust young people who make statements like that because they think with their feelings, but I think I am mellow enough not to make this statement lightly.
Why are they misunderstood? Partly because they are so busy putting out fires, you never hear about other things in their lives – you almost never get to see their heart. As with all humble and compassionate people, they don’t put their compassion (or their struggles/suffering) on a pedestal for display, and the media certainly doesn’t, so I almost feel compelled to display it for them.
If you’ve ever attacked my organisation, can I gently say, you have misunderstood us when you call us hateful angry bigots and what other names have you. When you send threatening emails and make rude harassing phone calls. When you call us wicked.
If you do all that deliberately after understanding where we come from, I have nothing to say to you. But to the genuinely searching and confused, can I gently say, you have missed our heart. 🙂
If I tell you everything I’ve observed of my colleagues since last August, it would fill many pages, so let me just start by offering you little glimpses.
My first week on the job was very very hard. I found the organisation stuffy, old-fashioned, difficult to connect with, and I was asked to do layout design work for the entire magazine. Layout was my weakest subject at uni. I was terrorised.
Anyway, I told my boss: nobody reads your magazines – none of your staff I asked anyway. I am not attracted to read your magazine, it is too wordy. Why do you go to all these hearings and inquiries, do you ever make a difference?
A lesser person might have fired me. Not David. He responded with humility, gentleness and grace.
I earnestly wanted to get at the motivation behind his work – a very important question to me. The organisation was in crisis and David’s wife (my other boss) Ros was at home caring for a sick grandson that week, yet he found time to answer my questions. He looked at me almost helplessly and said, “you want my life story in five minutes”. And boy did he try! David told me about how he grew up in a good home. He said he did not accept Christ until he was at university.
That was all he said because he was then whisked away by another person, another urgent task. So the piece of jigsaw I had to awkwardly hang on to was this: I am doing this work because I grew up in a good home. 🙂
We talked about some other things that week, and I had a real lack of confidence in the organisation. In fact, I was alarmed. But one thing David said sounded very mysterious. He said: “The Lord can work with small things.” I decided there is hope: I can trust someone who says something like that.
David and Ros are around 70 years old. I did not grow up in a home where my dad and mum expressed affection to each other very openly. To see that between David and Ros is a very beautiful thing. David relates to Ros as if he is an 18-year old teenager who has just fallen in love. I may be exaggerating but there is certainly that flavour in their 40+ years of marriage. It makes me giggle. Oh they also argue and disagree all the time – very cute.
Then there is Peter from Victoria. You know, I have always felt lonely in that I am misunderstood: even my aunt who loves me very much and has known me all my life said to me, I am only beginning to understand your struggles. I suppose I am difficult to understand.
But this Peter guy, he responded very differently to me – different from all the other good people in my life. He responded with empathy as a friend, and he affirmed me. Wow…how many 60-year olds relate to you as a friend. He saw me for who I was. And you know what, he said to me, it is my privilege to get the chance to know you a little bit. This busy 60-year old guy who has got all this life experience, and as a previous pastor I’m sure has heard all sorts of stories…I mean, why would I be special, you know. Everybody is special, but he communicated to me that I am special. He reached out to me. He not just reached out to me, he turned the tables around and said it was his privilege to get to know me. He wasn’t just trying to say some nice words I tell you. In fact he is the first to complain when I don’t do work for him correctly. He gets grumpy with me all the time at times. He still needs to grow in patience. (David and Ros are strict and correct me aplenty too, but that is what I like, what I look for and what I signed up for.)
The other people in my organisation all bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. What I like about them, is that most of them seem to talk about their weaknesses openly. Geoffrey said to me very early on, “One of my difficulties in serving God is that I am a slow learner. After eight years in the job, I am only beginning to get it.” I’ve never met people (other than myself haha) who say these sorts of things. I am not sure they will be happy with my revealing post – but I can’t help it: look, look at their wonderful lives.
They are all old people, yet so young at heart in that they are growing and learning every day. They look to ME for advice. Little old me! Alright, not just little old me because I know I have insights and skills to offer and all that, but still, you know. It’s very cool, that David lets me “bully him into using Facebook” (his words) and Ros calls herself a Twitter dummy.
As for our position on difficult issues: they help me understand, help me learn, let me ask questions. David especially always makes a special effort to address any questions I have even though he seems to me as an alarmingly busy person. He does so with his science research career background (and Ros with her science teaching background). They don’t give me “because the Bible says so” responses. They are careful, astute, thorough people. Not emotional, ideology-driven ones. They do not give knee-jerk responses.
I just think that I work, for and with, the best of the best…