Reporting from the trenches

I confessed to my friend Christa (see the Heirloom Tomato Sauce post), over a dinner neither of us cooked, that I was afraid I was out-of-touch. “I’ve come to believe that in some ways I’ve created my own reality for the past seven years. From ministry roles to owning small businesses, everything has been my doing and I’m not sure I totally know what real life looks like anymore.”

This may have sounded like false humility as I processed out loud with her all the “my  doings,” but I was speaking specifically about relating to others. I’m glad Christa tilted her head in the way she does and asked me to explain what I meant.

I was wondering whether I was an effective voice to and for the every day woman, who doesn’t have the same opportunities I’ve had. Do I truly understand the woman who has a boss to serve and bills to pay and a dress code to follow? What about the woman who does shift work and has limited sick days and co-workers and a policy and procedures manual? Do I know her story? I used to know her well. I used to speak her language. I used to be her.

By the grace of God, he had me on a trajectory that took me out of the “work force” into the “mission field.” This is what my brother-in-law refers to as the “Africa phase” as we inevitably bring up a story from our “stint in Ghana” in conversation.

Since then, since the “Africa phase,” since having my reality SHAKEN and AWAKENED, I sought to bring what I’d learned through the experience into my life and the life of my family. In business, I never wanted it to be about the money. In ministry, the message was pared down to putting God and people first. In my family life, slowing down and simplifying was an imperative for our soul survival.

My experience changed me, does this God-gift of truth not have the power to change others through my testimony?

It is not a good sign when someone responds with:

  • Easy for you to say
  • Wouldn’t it be great if we could all go to Africa
  • Yah, but you have freakishly well-behaved kids
  • Must be nice to be married to a pastor

Since that conversation with Christa, there appeared a crack in my blessed reality and what I had, up till then, speculated about became a factor. My North American business was suffering from my “African phase” mindset – I was mostly volunteering my time and more interested in making friends than a living wage. My husband asked me to get a job. 

The story from there is one that is months long with many connecting dots resulting in God answering my prayers very specifically to find me work.

I am a working woman now.

Which already means fewer coffee dates, less time on social media, zero time to write or dust… Haha! about the dust.

Strangely I’m not quite ready to share this whole story of answered prayer, and you know I love to share… even though it isn’t “easy for me to say,” has nothing to do with Africa. My pastor husband’s “lack of faith” (in quotes!) was the impetus for it, and my kids, well they’re teens now… Therefore, I should have your rapt attention! But no, this answer to prayer is a new page to be written, not yet the story to be told.

When I got the job, of course I told Christa and then I told her that I was worried about it. Would I be able to keep up? Would this be too quick, too big a change? How was I going to go every day to the same place, to the same job, day after day? And could I give up the spice of life I was accustomed to? Was I even capable of what was being asked of me?

“Oh don’t worry,” she said, “Knowing you, you’ll find a way to be all PASSIONATE about it.” She did not roll her eyes at all, something on the ceiling caught her attention.

Three weeks in, I will say this, I have a boss and co-workers and a job description that is so great I sometimes forget it’s work. I’m so sorry, but I AM passionate about it!

But I have ventured back into the reality of alarm clocks and bed times, of which I am currently truant. And my husband (and friends) have a new reality too. I’m not as available. I use a daytimer now to sneak in quick lunch dates here and there. J-M has quickly learned not to talk to me after 10 because, regardless of the fact that I’m sitting beside him on the couch, maybe even typing on this laptop, I’m already asleep.

One last thought before I move into REM. I would hate for you to think that this is like glamping (which our women’s ministry is, by the way, undertaking in a couple weeks’ time… which is still too close to camping for my liking). I am not working to scuff up the appearance of luxury with a little dirt. Trading my favourite pasttimes to work for a living is not my first choice – is it anyone’s? But I do believe, that it is my ultimate choice because it is orchestrated by God.

To those of you who know this existence well (I suspect there are many of you), to you who are in the trenches, perhaps living paycheque to paycheque, possibly dealing with demeaning bosses or bad morale or low pay day-in and day-out. What sustains you? What helps you to stay centred in the reality of Christ?

We need to hear from you.

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