Shoveling Manure

March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been feeling rather sorry for myself lately. I’ve been at my current place of employment going on three years, and for the most part it’s been a really good place for me. But something has happened in the last couple of months. I’ve seen things and had conversations that have shed a lot of light on how the organization is run and I’m frustrated. And I realized I’m mostly frustrated because I feel like I have no control over what’s happening. I don’t like not being in control.

Dear Pastor Kae preached a beautiful sermon last night about shoveling manure. No matter if I am a client service consultant, a project manager, a citizenship teacher or a linguist, there will be manure to shovel. A certain job is not going to save me, and if it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s part of being human. Aimee Mann’s song Wise Up popped into my head. That line: “it’s not going to stop” over and over and over until the end when she sings, “no it’s not going to stop, so just give up.” The obsession with trying to be thinner, stronger, smarter, better, the anxiety of the future, the fear of the unknown…it’s not going to stop. That’s also part of being human, and whether or not Aimee meant to convey the message, I hear it as this sort of zen wisdom. Don’t give up in the sense of losing hope, but give up trying to control everything because you can’t. It’s a message I need to hear over and over.

When Sam left, I only prayed one thing. Change his mind, God. Change his heart, God. Make him see that this is the wrong decision. I took the bus to work those days because I didn’t have a car, and from the moment I stepped off the 94 in downtown Minneapolis and into the Riverplace, I prayed this prayer. One morning as I walked across the Hennepin bridge, I watched the sun rise over the river and I felt something shift inside of me. I prayed a new prayer. God, whatever happens, grant me peace. I let go of my grip. It was an illusory control anyways. I knew intellectually I couldn’t control Sam and his decisions, but I wanted to and it brought so much unrest and disappointment.

I don’t know what will happen with my job. But I do know that hitting my head against my desk and bitching about it is not the answer. I also know that giving up hope is not the answer. So, in the meantime, I will go to work and shovel manure and trust that it is all important work. I will try to do this with grace and humility. I will try and love my co-workers, managers, directors and bosses. I’m sure I will fail, but I don’t want that to discourage me. I won’t give up on love.

A postscript: I have a little goal of at least blogging a couple times a month. I didn’t mean to jump on a soapbox this time, but I’ve been thinking a lot about work–this thing we do–and how it defines us. I think a lot of us feel uncomfortable when we have to answer the question: “What do you do?” Because we don’t want want to be limited to an empty title. Anyway, I somehow find great comfort knowing that it doesn’t really matter what I do, because it’s all the same. I mean, we all have unique skills and hopefully can find meaningful work during our lives, but there is crap everywhere. The other shoe will drop. But I think there’s room for hope in that too. I’ll try to sort this out some more later. Thanks for reading.

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