More than a year ago I stepped away from writing, specifically writing this blolg, in order to pursue my love of art. I opened a business, Eseret Art, and have been doing okay in that. I missed writing but couldn’t find the time to do it all. But I have to step back into writing today because what I need to express can’t be done with a painting. At least, not by me.
Over the past few months, I’ve been deeply involved in a project at my day job that has finally ended as of today. Tomorrow starts a new chapter for my company and I think also for me.
Since June, I’ve been working on the inventory of an 18-year old business that hadn’t done an inventory since it’s inception. After that, I was, for lack of an official title, the “Move Manager” for the company (but not overall Project Manager of the Move, thank goodness). We moved from our six suites in one building to two entire floors to a completely redone building down the street. It might seem like since it was RIGHT THERE, it should have been easy. But, this was a move involving the belongings, furniture, electronics, and network infastructure to keep 200+ people productive in the business of digital advertising. And I was in charge of making sure all things got from Point A to Point B, int the right places, and set back up in a usable manner.
In the past three weeks, I’ve put in a total of 60 hours overtime. This week alone was an 80-hour week! But…none of this is really what this post is about. It’s just background so you know what I was doing and how this all came about. But now to the point of the blog post – the lessons I learned for myself and the people I met who have made a profound impact on the rest of my life.
For those who know me well, you know I had a falling out with my last church many, many years ago and why. For those who don’t know me, I still can’t bring myself to fully recount what happened, just know that there were things said and done that hurt me deeply. Things that made me feel unwelcome and that my service was not appreciated or even wanted. I turned my back on not only that particular church but on all things Christian. I haven’t really stepped back inside a church since then, at least not for religious services.
Since then, I’ve labeled myself Agnostic. Believing in a “higher power” but refusing to remember and believe the finer points of being a Christian. The doctrines, the rules, the organizational inconsistencies, and “seeing behind the curtain to the Wizard” were things I couldn’t abide by anymore. I let the humanness of the church turn me away from the Godliness of the church. I turned my back on my faith because I let others dictate my place in worship and I forgot what it meant to me – and to God? – for me to worship.
In the past few weeks I met two men through our moving company who, probably unbeknokwnest to them, have touched my heart to the very core. It began by overhearing a conversation about giving furniture to those in need – and it being a blessing to the givers to do so. I’d forgotten that part of being a Christian. That although the receiving of things while in need is most certainly a blessing, the giving and the serving is also a blessing. Knowing that you can help others and acting on that knoweledge is one of the reasons I was so involved in my last church.
Throughout the last ten days, I’ve listened to them talk more and had deep conversations with one of them. Conversations about faith. Old-fashioned values that they not only believe but actively engage in pursuing. And I saw two men that not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. Every day. Every moment. And I remembered what it was like to have that faith. To live for service. To want to be involved with others of a like mind. To want to not only acknowledge a higher power but to also worship and praise that entity. To worship and praise not only on Sundays, in “official services” but in every thing they do.
These men didn’t hear I was Agnostic and bombard me with reasons to be a Christian. They didn’t show me any disdain for not believing as they do. They didn’t look negatively upon my tattoos or ask me to clean up my language. They didn’t push any agenda on me or quote scripture or anything “evangelical”. They simply walked the walk.
When dealing with a personal family situation, one of them continued to help with our move because he’d made a promise to be there. When confronted with a last minute issue on the weekend, the other didn’t say the work had to be cleared or that he couldn’t do it. He grabbed his toolkit and spent almost three hours making things better for us. Even as I had an emotional breakdown hiding in a corner while he was trying to work, he talked me down and made me laugh again.
And it was like that the entire move – regardless of the tasks or challenges set before them, they paused, assessed and acted. They are true Davids, Men after God’s Own Heart. Humble, giving, honest, accommodating, caring, serving, loving – every good adjective you could think of could be applied to these two men.
Today, the example they set forth had found its way into my heart. When I first got to work this morning, I tried several of my usual music playlists to try to get me motivated but they didn’t work. Thankfully, I was using my ancient little iPod and I, surprisingly, still had my old worship songs on there. I knew all the words and found myself dancing as I worked. Then singing. And then smiling real, honest smiles through the exhaustion and numb fingers.
Regardless that I was in the last 8 hours of my nearly 80 hour workday, I found myself complaining less. I joked and tried to cheer up others and was bouncy. I was less tired, knowing I was setting up a new work home for my coworkers. I was excited to imagine what their reactions would be to the new space. I wanted to solve all the little issues but found I couldn’t do them all at this late date. But I know I will be proactively helping solve them on Monday morning as they all find their way around their new space and I’ll be happy to help as much as I can. Even if I don’t get praise or accolades for all the work I’ve done, I know I did my best and I know they will have an easier time adjusting because of the time I spent on their behalf.
As I found myself on my knees again and again as I setup and fixed more workstations, I felt like I was having my own personal altar call. When one of my favorite Casting Crowns songs came on (“Does Anybody Hear Her“) I was kneeling in front of a coworkers desk. And I found myself crying. Sobbing, actually. One of those silent heartwrenching sobs that if anyone had seen me, they would have thought a loved one had passed away. But it was my own self that was dying inside. The lyrics just pierced right through to the heart of me:
She is running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction. She is trying but the canyon’s ever widening in the depths of her cold heart. So she sets out on another misadventure just to find, she’s another two years older and she’s three more steps behind…
This happened several times with various songs I had sung during my worship-leading days. And I always happened to be on my knees when the song came on. And I would cry until I could pull myself together and keep working.
I wrote a note to one of my coworkers who has also become one of my closest friends and told her what was going on. She understood immediately and told me to go pray. To tell God what was in my heart. I told her I had always talked to God like a friend, railing and venting and crying and giving thankful praise. She said that’s the way it should be. So…God and I talked.
All day. I talked to God about what’s in my heart. Where I feel like I’ve gone wrong and what’s gone okay while on my own. Asked for guidance that I know will come in time. Begged him to show me how to make the needed changes and choices for my own life that would, preferably, not hurt others whenever possible.
And I thanked Him. Profusely. Multiple times. Thanked Him for bringing Gary and Curtis into my life when he did. For showing me true Christian men. For reminding me what serving and worship are really about.
I don’t know if I can step inside a church anytime soon. The fear of my serving nature being rejected still haunts me. The desire to be accepted by my fellow humans still runs deep and I can’t handle the heartbreak of not being brought into the fold. Maybe someday I can find myself a new home. I have to decide what that home looks like before I search for it.
For now, I’m simply accepting what’s in my heart and not rejecting it out of fear and pain. God did not hurt me. God did not reject my service. He did not want me to stop believing and worshipping. He accepts me as I am. And to remember that is enough for now. My heart is awake again.
This journey will not be easy and my coworker is already on standby for the number of breakdowns that will come as I work to get back on the right path. But the first step has already been taken – realizing God never stopped believing in me. And despite what I said, I never stopped believing in Him.