This morning as I caught up on some of my internet reading, I came across the following quote by Thomas Merton.
All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.
Saturday dawns with me thinking about work especially my last week at my day job. Stress seemed to be contagious. There was a whole lot of grumpy panic running wild. There was also a lot of “the-farmer-kicks-the-cow, the cow-kicks-the-cat, the cat-kicks-the-mouse, the mouse-jumps-off-the-barn-roof” going on. A lot of the people filling my week were not filled with happy. It was robbing me of a lot. My work felt futile, meaningless, painful. If ever a week needed love; last week was it.
Some times work is work. Work that requires effort and perseverance. Even the best jobs, won’t always be fun. That doesn’t stop me from wishing they were. It’s also not going to stop me from working toward an attitude that accepts the challenges and sees them as opportunities.
Last week, I learned a lot about education, human nature, human suffering, cognitive distortions, stress reactions and what lies underneath it all. How could this last week not have great value?
More than once, I jumped on the “short bus to crazy town.” It’s a very short trip proving that keeping one’s wits about you when everyone around you is losing theirs and blaming it on you, really is a monumental challenge. Once you jump on the short bus, you can pull the bell and get off. Don’t worry. I guarantee you the bus will come around again and you’ll be free to choose to get back on. (I like to sit in the front where I can watch the driver as she careens wildly and screams.)
Let’s face it. The short bus to crazy town isn’t a pleasant ride. I prefer the limousine to peace.
The limousine isn’t going to pick me up if I have a full rant going. If I’m on my soap box spewing emotion and words in a lava flow of outrage, I’m not going to find that limousine at my door with its handsome driver and luxury accommodations. If I give in to the anger, the frustration, the desperation, that limousine is not going to come for me.
This morning, as I stood in the shower, preparing to face my weekend, I realized that I was fighting to save something I didn’t need to save. For lack of a better word, I’m going to call this thing, ego. A big part of me was upset because I was taken for granted. I wasn’t consulted. My input didn’t seem to matter. I was a warm body tossed at a job and doomed to be less than as effective as I wanted to be. Life felt out of control and I didn’t like it. I wanted to be in the driver’s seat because a big part of me was convinced that I could do better.
This could even be true (at least once in a while.) What I had forgotten is that my job isn’t about proving anything, it’s about me doing the necessary work to the best of my ability and knowing that sometimes the task is impossible, that people often get in the way, that I can’t control the outcome or what other people think. I can only do what I can do. You can’t fight crazy with crazy. Getting my ego too wrapped up into the uncontrollable aspects of my job was crazy.
Forgetting that I’m not in charge of the universe, also crazy.
As I stood in the shower, praying for help from some one or some place outside of me, I wanted a different life. The urge to run can be especially strong some days. Suddenly, a strong, clear voice whispers in my head,
“You are exactly where I want you to be. You are my gift. Everything in your life is as it should be in this moment. Everything can work toward good if you allow it.”
My first reaction was to argue. My words came out as a long, “WAAAAAAHHH.” My heels were making trenches as I was unwillingly drug across my days. I knew I was being ridiculous. I don’t have anything to prove. My job is to show up and cooperate. I can relax. I can feel peace in the midst of the storm. This lesson alone may be the central lesson of my life. I’m not sure. I just have to show up and cooperate.
Cooperation is not surrender. Maybe, some day, I might be called to take a stand and honor what I believe. If so, I’m sure they’ll be a sacrifice. Life (God) demands sacrifice as easily as It grants rewards. I am a gift especially when I don’t feel like I am. I’m not always going to recognize that fact or even enjoy it. My feelings, however, don’t change the reality.
My ” zen moments” don’t last long. I slipped on the crazy bus and jumped back off again repeatedly yesterday. Today, began the same way: on the bus, off the bus, on the bus, off the bus. A little bit of Merton, a few seconds of peace and the bus picks me up again. Perfection is a place no bus goes. What yesterday taught me is that I have the ability to figure out when I’m on the crazy bus and that alone makes a huge difference.
In the distance, I see the limousine. It’s going to be such a lovely ride when I’m ready. I have something to work toward. Ah, the driver can see me waving. I’m wearing the biggest smile.