We’re halfway through Lent now, Holy Week lies just beyond the horizon, and I have failed to put in nearly as much time as I’d like to in reflecting on my subject of study and I catch myself having to go back, catch up on the readings…..
It’s irony at its best….or worst…because the whole topic for this study is on “time”, my relationship to it, how to better use it, etc.
Well. What is Lent for if not to fall and rise again?
The past several weeks have been unsettling for me. I can elaborate more perhaps later down the road, but let me just say that most of the unsettled feelings have come from my work situation. And I’ve had to stop and re-evaluate my job, my future, and the implications that many decisions would have on my family, which is, ultimately, the reason I have a job to begin with: to help support my family.
So I go back and re-read some of the Lenten lessons of the past week and I want to share this one, because it just kind of hit me in the gut yesterday:
“The Book of Genesis tells us quite clearly that work is a gracious gift from God, something which gives meaning and purpose to human beings. And work can be a source of enormous delight. There is nothing better than that wonderful sense of satisfaction at a piece of work well done. And it’s almost like we can be like God and standing back and saying, “Yes that was very good.”
But we also know that work can also be experienced as toil, as something that’s grueling, as something that is actually dehumanizing. The Book of Genesis tries to explain what’s behind that, and the story of the Fall of man is a way of trying to express this experience of alienation, that things are not right in the world, our relationship with the world is not right, our relationship with work is not right. And so, for many people, work is experienced in this negative sense.
But I think the Scriptures tell us that the good news is that Christ came to redeem all of life, including work, and that in Christ we can re-experience something of God’s original gift in our own lives. I think for many people, whether they really know it or not, there is a kind of deep sense that how they perform is directly related to their worth; their value as human beings is dependent on how well they perform in their work. And of course, Christ came to tell us that our worth in the eyes of God has nothing to do with how well we perform. Our worth is infinite because God loves us, and Christ, in his life, death, and resurrection opens the gates to eternal life and opens our heart to receive the grace of God. And that grace tells us that you are loved. You are loved, and that has nothing to do with your portfolio and nothing to do with your resume. Praise be to God!”
There, right there, this sentence: “I think for many people, whether they really know it or not, there is a kind of deep sense that how they perform is directly related to their worth; their value as human beings is dependent on how well they perform in their work.”
I’ve been working since I was 15. And no matter what anyone says, this is a man’s world. It just is. You can sing me your songs about women doing things and being promoted and holding positions of power and authority, but when you get down to it, in MY everyday reality, it IS still very much a MAN’S world.
And men place great importance on what they do. It is one of the ways they define themselves. And I think that mentality has rubbed off on me. I have gotten very caught up in letting my work, my job, define who I am. And it just simply has to stop.
So, I’m making some changes. They’re scary, they’re new, they’re different, and they are not anywhere near where I thought I’d be at this juncture in my life or my career. But these decisions are what’s available, they are what make the most sense right now, and they are simply related to what I do, not who I am. And sometimes, knowing God like I know Him and how He uses situations in my life to change me spiritually, I think this is Him. I think this is His way of teaching me to let go of old habits and thought patterns about what matters in a job. I think this is His way of teaching me to look only to Him for my worth and value. And, as much as it’s gonna hurt, I have to trust that as a Heavenly Father, He simply knows best.