Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the kaleidoscope has turned

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29: 11

Perspective, perspective, perspective. I'm now able to see my summer job as just another step in God's plan. I'm humbled, disappointed (in myself), and grateful all at once. The first thing that happened to change my perspective was a part from Naomi Remen's book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, which I have in the magazine rack in the "reading room". (Okay, it's the bathroom. I just thought reading room sounded nicer. But then I thought, well, it could be a real room, and I don't have a reading room. I didn't want to be deceptive. Anyway, I digress!)

So, this part in the book talked about perspective. There were three men chiseling stone blocks by hand to build a cathedral. Each of them had a different point of view on their job. The first one said he hated his job. Every day he had to show up and just do the same thing over and over again. Chisel and scrape. Chisel and scrape. (I'm paraphrasing, I hope you know.) He couldn't stand doing it. His job was horrible. (Yes, I hear the similarities there...you can save that comment. Ha!)

Okay, the next guy said that every day when he came to work, he thought about the fact that he was providing for his family by working. Each time he chiseled and carved another block, he was helping to feed and clothe his wife and children. He found meaning in his work because of that. Going to work every day was a positive thing because it benefited his family. (I tried that, but it was kind of a pacifier for the whiner in me, not because I was really deciding to be content.)

The third guy said enthusiastically that his work was a joy every day. His efforts to make these blocks were going to be a part of this awesome cathedral for as long as it existed. His work was going to be a legacy. Each chisel mark he made in these blocks was going to become part of a beautiful building, and people would enjoy the results of his labor for many, many years.

Here is where I started to feel a little humble. It was NOT all about me, and I wasn't taking any time to look for what God had in mind for me here. It was more about my pride than it was about anyone else. What? So no one else is allowed to give me constructive criticism? I'm supposed to be above that? I shook myself and told myself to get over myself!

Each phone call I answered was my chance to encourage, help, direct or serve another human being. Perhaps something I said was exactly what that person might have needed to hear at the time they called. Every time I made a mistake, I had an opportunity to learn more about my job and my institution so that I could do a better job the next time the situation came up. I had forgotten that I didn't have to be perfect; I only needed to make myself available to the best of my ability. So I started looking at it that way.

Here’s the kicker: My perspective changed. My attitude changed. My outlook on my job improved. Today I was offered a promotion for the rest of the summer. I did nothing to get this. I didn't apply. I didn't ask. I didn't even know there was a position. I don't know how much clearer God has to make it for me. My security comes from his hand alone, not through my heroic efforts. The first summer job that fell into my lap led to the second job being offered to me. Do you hear Him telling me not to worry??! I was offered more money, and I will be doing something that fits me better…oh, Lord. Forgive my doubting, complaining heart!

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