The Entombment of Employment Issues

Some of you liked the Entombment piece I posted around Easter this year and asked for more. Since you weren’t very specific, I will address some areas of entombment as well as make some suggestions for getting un-entombed.

Employment can bring about challenges that we aren’t sure how to handle, from difficult co-workers, issues with a boss, irritable or demanding customers, etc.

I have dealt with most of these. So, if one or more of those describes your situation, I can empathize. Below are some things that have worked for me—or at least been helpful–in the past. Maybe they can be useful to you:

As far as the co-workers, boss or customers:

Difficult as it may be, listen and see if you have something in common with the other person. It could be where they have lived or grown up. It could be a common interest, such as hunting, sports, foods you both like, etc.

Remember that you don’t know what this person has had to deal with in their life. They might have been abused or “wounded” in some way (physically, emotionally, psychologically, verbally, sexually, etc.). They might have had a bad relationship with someone, a parent or relative, a teacher, a boss, an authority figure.

One of my co-workers was a real pain. Exasperated about “Dan” one day, I asked a co-worker what his issue was. He told me “Dan” did not handle stress very well. I kept that in mind as I dealt with him, and it had a positive effect on our working relationship.

Maybe you remind them of someone they don’t like. (That’s not your fault, of course.)

Lastly, you could pray for them. And it never hurts to pray for yourself either.

Lord, I pray that all who read this blog post will find it helpful in some way. Please enlighten, strengthen, and empower them so they can rise out of their tomb(s).

Please let me know whether you found this helpful.

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Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Was Jesus Tolerant?

That’s a really good question! I recently mulled this over in response to some sensitive and contentious situations. One definition I found describes tolerance as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”

I would begin by stating that this answer depends on how you look at it. Take the woman caught in adultery, for instance. Jesus didn’t advocate for her stoning. He simply said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Then He waited until everyone had left, but then told her to go and sin no more. I would say He was compassionate, merciful, and He loved her. But He does not tolerate sin!

Some controversial topics have come up with our friends lately, one of them concerning the gay lifestyle. If Jesus were here, He would say the same thing to that group of people: “Go and sin no more.” We can (and should) love the sinner as one of God’s children but hate the sin.

So to answer the question about whether Jesus was tolerant based on the definition of tolerance above: Jesus was fair and objective, but not permissive.

Please share your thoughts about whether you think Jesus was tolerant and why or why not.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The Mighty One Has Done Great Things For Me

Have you ever considered how the words to the Magnificat (except for the second part of verse 48) might apply to your life…for instance God doing great things for you and looking with favor on you? I encourage you to read and pray this prayer with a fresh pair of eyes. Pray it as if you are in Mary’s place even though we are not as blessed as she is. Begin with “My soul”….. It’s a joyful prayer for us as well!

Luke 1:46-55 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Mary’s Song of Praise

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,

5according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Death

Death stinks, at least for those of us left behind.

This weekend we attended our friend Don’s funeral, who died at home of cancer this past Monday. It was heart wrenching to see a son so sad and laden with grief, his widow in shock. What were their last words to each other? Was there much dialogue at all? Don told his family that he was dying just a few days prior, but how did he know the end was so near?

There are so many questions and so few answers. Death is such a mystery. Yet, we know that God will be with Don’s family in their shock, confusion, and grief. How do we know? Because Jesus told us that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). In the midst of all the pain and sadness, that’s perhaps the most comforting part—that He’ll be there with us, no matter what.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

 

Making Good Decisions

Decision making, at times, can be tough. Sometimes we think the decision is easy, but is it really? If it’s something that will affect us significantly—for instance a job change or getting married–it would be a good idea to not be too hasty, not let our emotions decide for us.

Not too long ago–after having a good job interview and what seemed like a good fit–I sat down and made a paper list. I labelled one side pros and the other cons. After exploring both sides thoroughly, it was obvious to me that the cons outweighed the pros. Also, I decided that I probably couldn’t live with some of the cons I listed. Now, it turns out that I wasn’t even offered the job. But, had I accepted it without thinking it through by making an emotional decision, I most likely would have regretted it and had to look for something else.

Some questions that might be helpful to consider in our decisions are:

– How do the individual elements/issues affect my values, my lifestyle? Are they in line or not?

– What are my priorities?

– How will this decision affect my family, my health, my future?

So, for these bigger decisions that can significantly affect us as well as those we love, making a list might be a wise choice. I would also strongly encourage prayer and involving the Holy Spirit in those decisions.  It can help prevent making a bad decision that we’ll regret later.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

 

Just Trust

I wish I had a dollar bill for every time I’ve heard someone say “Just trust God.” It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But, exercising that trust can be a challenge. I dare say it takes courage to trust in a God we cannot see, hear or touch. If you find it difficult to trust people you can see, how do you learn to trust a God you can’t see? Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed, the Bible says. Trusting is believing, and believing is trusting. But, why is trusting so hard? I’m afraid I don’t have an answer except to say that I think it has to do with our past experiences. Maybe someone has betrayed our trust. We are afraid it will happen again, and so we protect ourselves emotionally lest we get hurt again. I think this is only part of our human nature. You might even say it’s an emotional survival tactic. When I feel betrayed I find I pray more, and then I take baby steps towards trust again, whether it’s with other human beings or developing a deeper trust in God. God knows our needs, our fears, our weaknesses, and the good news is He loves us anyway!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

 

Jesus the Servant

Holy Week is just around the corner, and I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the scripture passage about Jesus’ washing His disciples’ feet. I am reminded of a song that we sing in our choir entitled “The Servant Song.” The song is quite beautiful and moving. (For copyright reasons, I cannot quote you the exact words.) Kevin and I had sung it a number of times before we learned that this song is sometimes sung at weddings. We truly had not thought of it being used in that way, but we realized how appropriate it was. The song asks if you will let me be your servant, be as Christ to you. Then the composer asks for the grace to let others serve him. It tells how we travel this earthly journey together, and we are here to help each other in whatever way that we can. We can encourage others, give them comfort in their fear. It speaks of sharing our joys, fears, sorrows and laughter until we’ve seen our earthly journey through.

It’s very humbling to have someone else do things for us, to let them ‘serve’ us. It requires swallowing our pride. Do you recall St. Peter’s reaction to Christ washing his feet? At first, he wouldn’t let Jesus do it. Only after Christ explained why He was doing it did Peter let Him. Will we let others serve us when it is appropriate and needed or will we be stubborn and prideful, deny others the opportunity? Christ never meant us to walk this life alone. That’s why He gave us each other. So, let’s walk the journey together as companions, travelers on the road of life.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Does Jesus laugh?

I imagine He does. In the Bible, we read about Him weeping over the death of His friend Lazarus. I also imagine He danced (maybe at the wedding feast in Cana?). Some years ago, a friend of ours gave us a pencil sketch of Jesus laughing. I have to admit the first time I saw any artwork with Jesus laughing, I was challenged to think outside my concept of Jesus. I bet Jesus liked to have a bit of fun every now and then, time to relax and unwind from all His teachings, miracles and, of course, to get away from the Pharisees and Sadducees. In a movie about Christ, there was a scene where Mary was having Jesus wash His hands, and He playfully flicked water on her, which made them both laugh.

I have heard that if you want to make God laugh, make plans. Of course, most of us have goals and desires for our lives, but God is ultimately the ‘planner.’ When good things happen that I don’t expect, sometimes I scratch my head and ask God if He is laughing (with me, not at me, of course). Sometimes I have even joked with God saying ‘Okay, you can stop laughing now!’

Can you think of an instance in your life where you might imagine God was laughing? If so, please share your experience with us.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Work – A Different Perspective

Work. Is it a curse or is it really a blessing? Ask anyone who is out of work these days and you will probably hear that it is a blessing. Ask anyone who is fed up with their job and you will likely hear that it is a curse. Unfortunately, our first thoughts on this subject may not be such positive ones. Why exactly is that? Could it be due to our American culture? While work IS a four-letter word and is often thought of in a sarcastic way, perhaps one of the reasons we have such a negative attitude is that we blame this on Adam and Eve and “the fall” as the reason we have to work (ref. Genesis 3:17-19, 23).  We tend to overlook or forget the part in Genesis 2:15 where God put Adam in the garden to “cultivate and care for it.”  We tend to forget that “work” was part of God’s plan all along. Think about it. If there was no work involved for Adam and Eve to eat, they would become inactive and fat and lazy. God knew that wouldn’t be good for them, so He always intended for work to be part of His plan.

In spite of Adam and Eve’s mistakes in the Garden of Eden, I am sure God in His infinite mercy gave them some skill and knowledge on how to cultivate and care for the earth as God had wanted them to. How can we relate to Adam and Eve? God gives all of us skills and talents we need in order to do what He has created us to do. It is up to us to develop these skills and talents further and utilize them in our world, in our work. (There’s that four-letter word again!) When I think of the many ways in which we contribute to the world by our work, I am amazed at the talents, skills and abilities He gives us, including what He has given me over the years. I have been privileged to do a variety of work, and I thank God for being able to learn many things through my work, including some challenging lessons.

There’s a show on TV called “Dirty Jobs” where the host goes into various work environments where it is smelly, dirty, and often the workers are doing unusual things. Not many of us would want to handle big, dangerous snakes, pump sludge, or remove dead cows from farms. Most of us have much more pleasant, cleaner, safer jobs. My point is we all have different abilities, and we are all called to do different things. I think it takes a special kind of person to do a specific job and do it well, but some tasks seem so ordinary we don’t think they’re so special—like trash collection, for instance. But where would we be without these ‘sanitation engineers’? We may be tempted to think that particular job doesn’t require a lot of talent or skill, except maybe when they take that mechanical arm to ‘hug’ the bin and lift it so they can empty it. I am grateful for these workers and many others who, by their work, make our world a better place to live.  Aren’t all of us called to do that also?

The next time you’re out and about, consider all the different things people do. We regularly meet pharmacists, grocery baggers and stockers, cashiers, police, firefighters, emergency workers, healthcare workers, you name it. All we have to do is look around. I invite you to think of the challenges they face and the skills they need to use daily as they work and help people and, hopefully, make our world a better place to live by doing their job and doing it well. As we reflect on this, let’s also thank God for making each of us a bit different in that regard. We all contribute in different ways, and our work is important in its own way.

In our prayer, do we thank God for the talents, skills and abilities He has given us and helped us to develop? Do we thank Him for the lessons we have learned in the process? Do we see our work as an opportunity to serve our fellow man and God, as well as earn a living? Or do we see our work as a burden and subconsciously blame Adam and Eve and some fruit they picked off a tree long ago? Just what IS our attitude towards our work anyway? Do we see it as a blessing or as a curse? It’s something to think about.

(NOTE:  March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph the worker. He can teach us a lot about the spirit of work. I invite you to “Google” on this saint to learn more.)

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Copyright © 2010 by Theresa M. Williams

The prayer of sleep

Do we think of our sleep as a form of prayer?

Some time ago I would fall asleep envisioning myself combing Jesus’ long hair as an act of love. Although that no longer happens, for whatever reason, I can still offer my sleep as a form of prayer. To go to sleep is to be vulnerable. I trust my guardian angel to be vigilant and watch over me as I sleep. I also trust the Lord ‘my soul to keep’ as the prayer says.

What or who do you think of as you go to sleep?

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

One definition of fear

I have often heard fear defined as false evidence appearing real. Have you ever heard this before? I think it’s a fantastic definition. How often have we assumed as truth something that wasn’t true because the evidence wasn’t real? The Bible reminds us that worry doesn’t add a single hour to our life. So we might do as the songwriter Bobby McFerrin says: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The Our Father ‘as we’

How many times do we fluff over the words ‘as we’ in the Our Father–forgive us our trespasses ‘as we’ forgive those who trespass against us? Jesus is telling us that if we don’t forgive others, we will not be forgiven; we will be forgiven only as we forgive. Are we quick to forgive? Do we hold a grudge? One of our retreat masters asked us this question: What would we say to Jesus at judgment day if our offender is standing in front of Jesus and Jesus turns to us and asks us if He should let that person into heaven? What would our response be? Would we be forgiving and allow them in? It is something to think about. Who do we need to forgive?

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The lost art of conversation

The lost art of conversation

While I was in the waiting room for a focus group (research study) earlier this week, I noticed that everyone else was on their smartphone. I found it ironic that we were going to be discussing serious issues, yet no one wanted to talk outside the meeting room. Contrast that to earlier in the day when I was chatting with my hairdresser the entire time he was cutting my hair. In the span of about 15 minutes, we talked about TV shows, satellite providers, pets, dog boarding places, and probably something else I’ve forgotten. It was simply amazing!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Are men who weep sissies?

Good question and something to think about. Now, it’s one thing if a man weeps because of immaturity and to whine. It’s quite another to show emotion because he loves someone and is genuinely sad. Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus (see John 11:35). Now, don’t tell me grown men shouldn’t cry! I’ll challenge you and say “If it’s good enough for Jesus—and he was a grown man–it’s good enough for you, too!” And guess what? An even better reason to allow that emotion to come out is that crying is good for your health. Tears have healing properties. It’s very cleansing to have a good cry. It’s good for your blood pressure and emotional health. So, when you feel sad or upset and need an outlet, go ahead and cry. If the moment isn’t a good time to cry, find a restroom or another appropriate place or wait until later, but do give it a try! You’ll feel better in the long run.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams