Where to start? I don’t even know where to start taking stock of my own life, it’s like looking at the underside of a tapestry (or an unfinished piece of crochet with hundreds of loose ends to weave in). But it’s amazing how just one encounter can be a pivot between frustrated despair and awakening hope. Perhaps that in itself is a sign – as close to a shout, I suppose, from a God who hasn’t been listened to for some time.
A month and a half ago I was forcibly transferred to a senior position at my current workplace. There were no direct threats, of course, but when one is taken out into the office corridor in mid-May and told, “Management has decided that you will be going upstairs to XX department from 1 July,” and when one’s queries to the HR department about a new contract with terms and compensation commensurate to the new position are met with evasive refusals to discuss, and finally a dismissive, “This is normal, it doesn’t count as a promotion and it doesn’t merit any change of contract, you didn’t request or apply for the job, we are just redeploying staff; it’s just the way it is here,” a mere five days before the official move, it’s quite obvious what the company’s view of you as a person and an employee is.
Barely four and a half weeks into the job, an additional account is thrown into my lap. And then, last week, just as I was starting to get into the swing of things and preparing to officially take the reins of this third assignment, I’m told that management is considering handing my current favourite account to a colleague because one of her accounts has been cancelled – and I might need to “help out” with another, particularly annoying, account in order to continue “justifying my employability”.
Friends and colleagues have advised me to stick it out until the end of the year so that I at least have six months’ worth of official experience in the role on my resume, and also so that I have something to show for my pains (a few issues with my name in the credits). My rational side totally agrees, of course – I mean, I’m pretty much the sole breadwinner now and we have a kid to raise – but that old feeling of being sickened by the thought of continuing in this particular work environment that I last felt in 2009 is back. It’s not the disgusted frustration I felt when I decided to leave my second workplace, or the exasperated fatigue I experienced in my last weeks at my previous workplace. It’s that creeping sense of illness, of wrong, that drove me to leave what I had initially thought was my life’s calling – except that this time, I’m under no illusions about my current employer’s suitability as a long-term career partner.
Yesterday, during our third visit to a church we’re considering attending, we asked for prayer with one of the pastors. He said a lot of things that stunned me, both before and during his prayer. He asked if I’d taken any practical steps to ascertain my position and options while waiting for a clear direction from God, whether I’ve heard from God about whether to stay, and if yes, for how much longer, and prayed that I would not make decisions out of fear that I will not have/find another job.
Frankly, I’ve not been listening much, so even if God has been speaking, I’ve not heard. I’ve been angry and discouraged and not asked for His input. I have been afraid of making the wrong decisions financially. And when the pastor said those words about God’s direction and call for my career, I had a flashback of a church camp prayer/ministry session from years ago – I can’t remember if it was 2003 or 2004 – when I was fully convicted of a full time ministry call on my life. It was also the first time I experienced being “slain” as the charismatics like to call it – I prefer to simply call it falling under the power of the Spirit. I have not thought about that session for more than eight years now. The last time was when I was leaving my full-time position in that church (my first job) for a secular job and feeling like everything had been a lie, or that I had misheard God terribly and brought disaster upon myself.
I realise I really don’t quite recognise myself any more. Where is the woman who told her husband to go ahead and take a sabbatical to decide what it was he really wanted to do, when it was clear he was miserable in the IT industry? Where is the woman who was unafraid to confront company management over unfair or unethical practices, even to the point of being willing to leave if they refused to capitulate? Where is the woman who supported her husband’s unorthodox and seemingly impractical – even foolish – decision to go into massage/acupressure therapy, because she believed God gifted him with that skill, bent and interest for a reason?
Where is the woman who did all these things because she was entirely convicted that God would provide, so long as we were serving Him and doing our best to remain in the centre of His will? Where is the woman who fearlessly met every disapproving or discouraging word with, “It is written, ‘I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.’ Psalm 37:25,” and, “It is written, ‘Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’ Philippians 4:6?”
I must find her. She must still be there, somewhere, half asleep, waiting to be woken. She has to return to the surface. She must.