Sometimes my optimism really annoys me. I tend to go into things expecting them to be 100% wonderful…or at the very least, function like they should. And then, when they aren’t and don’t, I stand bewildered, then frustrated, my sense of justice and rightness raring up indignantly. The cynics point and laugh and say, “You’re kind of an idiot, you know. What were you thinking?”
Well, I was thinking the best of everyone and everything. It’s my default, and it means I get disappointed a lot…
Take my job, for example. I had wanted to work at my current place of employment since I first moved to Alaska in 2014. I believe in their mission and thought it would be a great chance to impact young people’s lives. The opportunity came in May 2018, but even getting the job was an odyssey. I applied and never heard anything, but the position stayed open. So I called and was told I didn’t qualify, which made no sense. I had clearly heard the Lord tell me that was where he wanted me, but it seemed to dead-end. And then one day in August, a friend told me the company was holding a job fair, so I showed up with a couple of copies of my resume. I was the only person who attended that day, and they could see that I had applied but couldn’t find my resume anywhere on the recruiting site. They couldn’t imagine why I was told I didn’t qualify. They interviewed me the next week and offered me the job.
Yay! Or so I thought, until I understood the maelstrom I had walked into and was now ostensibly in charge of:
- My department’s office moved from Anchorage to the Valley in June.
- The entire team quit.
- They left behind over 300 files that hadn’t been touched, some since February.
- All of my subordinates’ positions were filled before I was hired.
- They never got much training.
- I never got much training.
- Because we were scrambling to deal with the files, I had no time to build team relationships. I was on cleanup duty for a mess I didn’t make, and there was an expectation that we’d all produce as fast as possible. The human element didn’t seem to matter to the higher-ups, and we didn’t gel as a team from the start.
- My immediate manager didn’t hand over the reins on far too many things I was responsible for, even though I asked and asked and asked.
- When the contract changed at the beginning of this year, he was let go, and the director started to understand just how much I didn’t know. (“Whoa, maybe she’s NOT just a crappy manager. Maybe she’s just untrained!”)
- Half of my team quit right when the contract changed.
- We’ve been EXTREMELY short-staffed but expected to produce at the level of a fully-staffed team…and no one is applying for the open positions across our center. Word on the street is that we don’t have such a great reputation as a place to work.
- Numbers and stats seem to be more important than people.
- The general air across the whole center is soooooo negative, tense, and stressed. You can feel it in the air.
I have never worked in an environment like this before. I have never cried so much or been so exhausted by a job. And on top of that, I have had the hardest time figuring out why I’m even there because when I asked the Lord to help me hit the expected numbers, he said, “No.”
“Wait, what?” said I. “So you’re setting me up for failure? This is extremely uncool, and I don’t understand.”
“Daughter. Chill. I am not setting you up for failure. I will protect you, and you know that. What I AM doing is giving them a chance to realize how unrealistic their expectations are and to change them. In the meantime, speak life every opportunity you get.”
Okay, then. First, I had to make a Herculean effort to climb out of the sludge of negativity that just consumes that place, and I realized the only way to do so was to crawl up in the Lord’s lap and let Him wrap His wings around me and not move an inch. I had to choose to see things from His perspective, rather than focus on the chaos around me. Most days now, I do pretty well. What still gets to me is seeing/feeling the frustration others carry, but that’s where His directive comes into play. I have been looking for every possible way to speak life over people. For many, it’s as simple and basic as a smile and finding something positive to say to them (although the Lord asks me to pray for them in my own time). For a few quietly like-minded believers on site, I get to ask openly how I can pray. For two, maybe three, I can go a lot deeper. There’s one who’s on a journey to discover the Lord, and I feel incredibly honored to be even a small part of that.
So, in hindsight, I guess I really should have realized that it wasn’t going to be what I thought. The Lord sends me into places on assignments – he’s always done this – for his purposes. I suppose I assumed, since the job description looked like someone wrote it based on a list of my experiences and qualifications, that I was going to make an impact through the job itself. But y’all, I am not a “numbers trump people” kind of person. I’m actually a pretty terrible manager, if you go by their definition of management. I could not care less about being number one in the nation, or meeting quotas, or writing monthly reports, or or or…
I’ve got some future dreams burning in me, and I’m thinking they’re going to come to life pretty soon. But I’m to stay in this job until the Lord says the assignment is finished. And if I’m the only one in the entire company who believes that people are more important than stats, so be it. I think about the stars, how from our perspective, they’re tiny little pinpoints of light in a vast blackness, but in reality, they’re quite large. And to me, those little positive words are like the stars. A small word of hope or kindness or truth can be a HUGE thing in the darkness of someone’s life, and I might never know because from where I’m standing, all I did was say, “Hey, you’ve got great hair,” or, “You are doing an awesome job, and I appreciate you.”
So there I go again, being all optimistic. Sorry, cynics. In the end, I know who’s got me, and I want to see things the way He does, always. I choose life.