On the way to work this morning I had a epiphany of sorts that helped me see recent work issues from a new perspective. For the last 10 months I’ve had a very hard time going to work and wanting to do my job. Not because I hate what I do, but because of the extremely toxic environment there. It seemed that with each passing day, most people, including management, were becoming more hateful and petty. The general attitude seemed to be “if it suits me it must be right”, and my prayers nearly always contained some form of “Lord help me get through the work day, help me keep to myself and focus on what I need to do”.
I spent each work day listening to sermons, James Earl Jones read the Bible, or worship music, and while it helped get me through each day, it seemed many people I worked with were getting more hateful. My frustration with this situation grew and I started looking for bids to other departments in the mill. I prayed for God to help me deal with the situation until I could leave. As a union griever I have to represent these people but I can hardly stand to deal with many of them.
What can I do Lord? Why are these people doing and saying the things they are? Help me with my frustration and anger. Help me not to give in to it. After months of praying I realize I was asking the wrong questions. On the way in to work today God let me know “They aren’t changing, you are”. When this revelation hit me, my anger and frustration immediately disappeared. They aren’t becoming more hateful, they are who they always have been. I am just noticing who they really are the further I get away from acting like that myself. I find my old behavior disgusting and reprehensible.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
When I recommitted my life to God I knew I had to change the things I did and the people I associated with. I prayed that God would remove the people from my life who would be a bad influence. That happened to include many of the people at work and I understood what I was asking God for. I’m just shocked at how many “good people” at work God had to remove from the list of people I associated with. Once God revealed to me “They aren’t changing, you are”, I finally understood the situation for what it is.
I thought I was going through a crisis when in fact God was actually answering a prayer. In effect I learned two lessons from this experience. One, not everything is as it seems. Two, God doesn’t answer prayers in the way we envision when we pray. His answer and his ways are always better than ours and one day soon that will sink in completely.