(56) is this idolatry?

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”     – Jesus   (Jn 16:33 NIV)

***

I am going to engage in a little bit of hyperbole, or perhaps blatant exaggeration. Consider yourself forewarned.

You wouldn’t know that I had voluntarily signed a contract to work for this company, with the amount of griping and crying I’ve done over this new job. I have spent hours, days, slaving over the computer, by turns desperate/frantic and angry. And yes, sometimes simply resigned, sometimes reminding myself of all the lovely truths:

Everyone works. No job is perfect. The beginning is challenging, but it’ll get better. Any job would require you to give up your free time. You can’t have everything you want, my dear. And you did get yourself into this one, you know.

…but sometimes I am just angry. Angry at myself, for ever thinking this was a good idea, for walking through the various doors I’ve had to walk through to get here. And angry at the gods of work for the vast injustice of it all.

The only reason I condescend to work hour after hour to learn this job is because I expect to profit in the future from all of this. Maybe even profit considerably. But my hopes are waning and expectations slipping, particularly after a weekend during which I worked many hours, but my sisters probably could have taught two piano lessons or cut and colored someone’s hair and made as much or more money than I have. Ah, the unfairness! How is it that the life of work continues to be so unfair?

Or perhaps the better question is, who promised you, Anna, that life would be or feel fair?

Perhaps it was the gods of work who, like those shady friends you’ve always been warned about, slipped a few lying expectations into a heady cocktail of aspirations, a cocktail I have apparently gulped right down.

When I consider “working” and “getting a job,” I have a deeply rooted set of expectations. I want to do something that I will enjoy, so that I do not feel like I’m sacrificing time on the altar of another person’s ambition (it’s their company, after all), time that would be better spent on my own pursuits (or even wasted). I want to profit considerably, not just making a wage I can subsist on, but a wage I can play with. Plus, I’m a college graduate, which is supposed to mean something (a.k.a. I am better than other people and deserve a better job). And I am embarrassingly flippant about all of this, not stopping to consider that if I do not work to support myself, than someone else* will have to.

It is becoming clear that none of these expectations are based in the life experiences promised by Jesus (see quote above). And if I really am looking to find a job that can feel some desire or need that I have or a job that indulges my tending-toward-selfish (ok, selfish) nature, then maybe it could be called idolatry.

 

It would be nice to say that I am totally ready to give all of this up and embrace this reality. Except I am not all the way repentant about it yet. But I am getting tired, tired of fighting so hard against what life is holding out for me, and maybe I would do well to take one sister’s advice and just decide to like the job, like the process. Just decide to like it. Embrace reality, Anna.

And, if it helps, maybe think for just a fleeting moment about the women working in wretched conditions in Asian factories, making a dollar or two a day, who can’t even quit and find another job. That is not a very nice thought.

It is really hard to turn this attitude around, I am finding.

I hope that awareness is a good beginning. And fortunately for me, I get to practice every. single. freaking. day.

 

***

*The “someone else” I’m thinking of is my husband. Isn’t it amazing (in a terrible way) that in my despair and frustration with this new job, I have been thankful relatively infrequently for his sacrifice in going to work, day after day, to a job he doesn’t particularly like and which has taken him far (to the nth power) out of his comfort zone? It is clear that I need more of Christ and less of my self to conquer these sneaky attitudes and expectations.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

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