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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8 thoughts on “Reporting from the trenches

  1. I think it is about believing so much in the world that I am doing. When you are in a place where you firmly believe God has placed you, then He will equip you with all you need to do that job. I firmly believe God has you right where you are supposed to be! Just wait on Him to fill you up, give you all the skills, and sustain you through that job. And get to bed at a good time, too. :)

    • Yes, an early bedtime is imperative. You’re right that it makes all the difference to know that God has placed you and will equip you, no matter what our circumstances!

  2. I knew that you would love and embrace this change! And “be all passionate about it!” Many blessings to you Loreli!
    I love my work! There are good days and bad days, but that is living in community. It’s God’s way of giving us the opportunity to take on His character. I have the best of both worlds because I work part-time. It gives me the time I need with family and friends, and the income and challenge I love with my work environment.

    • “It’s God’s way of giving us the opportunity to take on his character.” I love that Christa! See? This is why I whine to you! You always have a good response!

  3. God’s plan for us is ongoing, even when we feel like we’re not in tune with him so much. I truly believe that when we’re open to Him, God places us exactly where He wants us to be. For a long time I’ve said that my life is an adventure, because in pastoral ministry you never know where God may lead you or what surprises (good and not-so-good) await you. I’ve learned to get through life by reminding myself of God’s love for me and of His faithfulness in the past, which will be carried through to the future. At times, things seem so out of control and I’ve wondered what’s going on. God is always in control and I an often look back and see His plan. Loreli, you have been given a gift from God. You are exactly where He wants you to be. It’s so obvious that you are going to be such an asset to your place of employment. This is a new season for you and your family. Embrace it and allow Him to use you in ministry here. Blessings!

    • Thank you so much Lynn! My questions/challenge revolves around women’s ministry and the way I, as leader, relate to the women who attend. Practically, how do I lead time-strapped women? Becoming time-strapped myself helps me answer that question. I am so glad God’s in control. I don’t think he gave me this job only for that reason, but I do believe it is an asset (strangely) to ministry. Let’s do lunch and talk some more! <3

  4. The answer to this question is what sustains me: How does this particular job or this particular work in ministry help my family and my relationships? As a daycare provider earning just enough to put food on the table, I reminded myself that I had the opportunity to influence kids for Christ – and put food on the table. When I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, I was so incredibly thankful for the time to develop a strong family and strong relationships with other women. Working full-time since March has been extremely difficult for me and I still sometimes have to mourn what I’ve lost. (As a matter of fact, I’m weeping right now!) But I often remind myself how God has provided what we needed just in time – as Ben goes off to university. There is ALWAYS a purpose to what we do. For me, it’s a matter of finding the reason that I have been put where I am. God is good, and as long as I don’t ignore Him, I am a party to his goodness.

    • Oh, my friend, I weep with you! Thank you for sharing this wisdom through your tears. “I am a party to his goodness.” That’s beautiful!

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