This morning, the first day of the new year, I was reading a post (reblogged on this site) from Janie Kellogg about how changing our own behavior can help this poor world. Her post inspired me and I suggest that you read her post before reading this one.
This is what I needed to face this year. Maybe my story will inspire someone else out there. Last year, I had a wonderful boss. She was supportive, kind and helpful in showing us ESL adjuncts how to deal with difficult situations in our multi-cultural, multi-lingual classrooms. However, she needed to move on to other endeavors. In August, we got an interim director who quickly proved herself to be the antithesis of our previous boss. At our first meeting with her, she informed us that we make too much money. At subsequent meetings and in private talks, she pitted us against each other, creating an atmosphere of anger and suspicion. She removed anything remotely associated with fun from our job and eventually informed us that starting next fall, she would be “forced” to either close our program or cut our salaries in half. After some investigation, we discovered that everything she said to us was a lie. Our program, instead of being broke, had the largest surplus in its history. The list of both her underhanded actions and her lies went on and on.
So, where does changing our own behavior come into this story? Well, I found myself not being able to look her in the eyes. You know how the scenario goes. She looks at you with those steely blue eyes and you quickly avert your eyes. Why? I discovered that I could not look at her because I hated her for everything she had done. She had managed, in a few short months, to take away any pleasure I had in my job. Why was she able to do that? How did I give her that power over me? It was a deeply emotional and spiritually tumultuous situation. It threw my life into a constant upheaval.
I would like to be able to say that I totally overcame the situation and have no hard feelings towards her, but I’m not sure that is entirely true. I understand the problem and I pray for her and wonder what it was that caused her to become such a hard and mean person. However, can I look at her without any trace of hatred in my eyes? It makes me wonder: how did Jesus do it? How did he look at Pilate, the one who could condemn him to death, and say “You could have no power over me unless it were given to you by my Father in heaven.” How did he have such complete love that he could see, even in the probability of an excrutiating death, the love of his Father in heaven? How can I get that same kind of love in a simple situation at work?
There is no easy answer for us. I believe the answer lies in overcoming hatreds in ourselves, in continuing to pursue the love we see in our savior. The hatreds may not go away in one day, but they can be eliminated bit by bit, layer by layer. In the coming year, I’m sure that I (and we all) can do it, through step by apparent babystep, prayer and the love of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. We can overcome our challenges and let the life of God become an inspiration to others as well. So, peace and prosperity to all this year, and may a wonderful overcoming spirit be ours through our loving Lord and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.