Today, my reading in Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson is about "work." That thing we all do everyday to bring home a paycheck and pay the bills... How do we find meaning in what we do? And how do we live out our faith in the midst of it?
Here's my favorite part from this week's chapter:
"Ministry is not just for ministers: In the new spirituality, a minister is anyone who chooses to use our resources to tend to the wounded heart of the world. Anything we do can be a ministry, from menial labor to the highest professional endeavor. It is our ministry if it is an activity we use to spread peace and forgiveness and love.
"We transform our work into a scared experience by transforming our sense of purpose - from that of serving our own needs as we define them to that of serving the work of God. This shift in purpose - from a focus on ourselves to a focus on God's love - activates a chain of miracles. For anytime we walk into a situation with a higher sense of why we are there, we are bringing down the light."
It's funny to think about some of my past jobs, and realizing that I always had a sense that I was there for more than the job itself.
Working in a pet food store, I was the salesperson who took time with customers that no one else wanted to serve... (I remember one woman who had a very unfortunate deformity on her face. The manager of the store always told me to hurry up her sale and get her out of there, because she made people uncomfortable. But, that's exactly why I took my time with her... She had at least one place where she was known, and knew I would welcome seeing her each week.)
As a waitress, I knew most of my regular customers' names and what they ordered and greeted them enthusiastically every time they came in! I knew when they were ill, when they lost their jobs, when family came to visit... I was able to smile, serve, and offer friendly conversation each time they walked through the door. When they were having bad weeks, they knew they could come in for a little cheering up!
At the same restuarant, I had the opportunity to share my life with the other employees, too. A teenager that worked there once asked me what I did for a job before I worked there. I told him I had been a youth director at a church for three years. He smiled and said, "that makes sense. I knew you were one of those people!" When I asked what that meant, he said there was something different about me... That I was nice to everyone and that I never seemed to worry about things... It made total sense to him that I believed in God - because why else would I be that way? (At the time I laughed it off. But over the next few months, he would come in and ask me questions about my faith and life and we would have great conversations - with the other staff members jumping in. It sparked a very cool relationship between me and my co-workers.)
I've had other seemingly "meaningless" jobs - and most of those have stories, too. Now, I work at a church and get to be part of other people's lives in big and small ways - always ready with a smile, a hug, a prayer... I'm blessed to be able to share God's love through my work everyday.
But sometimes... I miss the "miracles" that happen when an incident incites the sharing of my faith. I miss the unexpected encounters that open a conversation assuring someone that they are seen, valued, and loved.
I've liked most of the jobs I've had in my lifetime so far - and I think it's because I always stayed true to my faith, joy, and love of life - and enjoyed sharing that with those who may not always experience it. It's very true... Every job has a calling higher than the paycheck - we just have to decide to recognize and live in to it!
How do you get to make a difference in the workplace?
Things I am thankful for today:
1. A hubby willing and able to drive me around in bad, snowy, icy weather!
2. Looking out the window at church and seeing that hubby brushing off other people's cars. He's so sweet!
3. Teens that make me laugh.
4. New members at church!
5. Beautiful snow.
6. Our dog getting crazy and jumping around in the snow. (And even bringing her favorite toy out for a romp!)
7. Some kind words said to me today, from an "elder" that is friends with our pastor... Reminding me that my work does not go unnoticed, and that in fact, is sometimes inspiring to other pastors who hear my ideas.
8. Kid President. I can't get enough of that little guy!
9. The Grammys are on tonight!
10. Blankets, Pj pants, and books - Oh my!
QotD: If this day was an animal, what animal would it be?
I would say it's a cuddly-polar-bear kind of day!