Sunday, January 22, 2012

Self-discovery #1: I'd make someone a great pet.

I told you I am on a self-discovery journey. Yesterday I discovered something about myself quite serendipitously. I had to do some heavy thinking in order to burrow through the fodder on the surface to get down to the roots of the Who Am I revelation. I hope my stupid little story and discoveries might help you discover something about yourself as well. If not, I hope to at least leave you amused and wondering what in the world God was thinking when He fashioned me.

I think I've mentioned that I work at Sears as a large appliance sales associate. That's NOT WHO I am. I hate the job. Don't ask me why I do it. That's a whole different post. But it is important for you to know that I work on commission. If I don't sell, I don't make money. And if I am not pacing the floor in the department of the store, I can't hound approach customers, and I can't sell anything. So, success partly depends on simple presence.

I have a co-worker--I'll withhold his real name just in case he is innocent of my accusations, but I'm quite sure he is not, so we'll just call him Pavlov--who loves to get me out of the department and away from any potential customers. He's been successful more than once. The first time he committed such a dastardly deed--shame on him. His repeated offences--well--*

One other thing you need to know about Pavlov: his wife makes some really yummy, and I mean REALLY YUMMY homemade caramels. And he brings these things to work.

A few evenings ago, Pavlov and I had to "close" together. Anybody ,including Pavlov, that has ever closed up shop with me knows that I don't like to drag my feet. When the front door locks at 9:00 p.m. I want to be ready to walk out the back at 9:01. (If the manager will let me, but it has not happened yet.) Co-workers also know that if they decide to piddle around and not participate in closing duties that I will do them all by myself, just so I can get out of there and hurry home.

There are several closing duties that can go undone and unnoticed by management, but one that can't is the closing of the cash registers. Obviously.

When a register closes down, it prints out a closing receipt. If there is no paper, or "tape" in the little printer, the register won't close down, and if the register won't close down, I can't go home. That's why, when Pavlov walked up to me with a helpless and sad look on his face and said, "Lavonda, do you know where there might be some more register tape? I can't find any. ANYWHERE!" I quickly and without thought replied, "Sure. I'll go get some." (Pavlov has worked at Sears over 20 years. Strange that he doesn't know where they keep the new rolls of register tape don't ya think?)

That little errand took me off the floor for several minutes even though I went at a high trot. When I returned with a half dozen rolls of paper, Pavlov was closing a sale. He grinned as I, out of breath, rushed past him on my way to load a roll into the disabled register and finish up the closing chores.

After his customers left the store, he pulled a zip lock bag out of his pocket and so sweetly offered me one of his wife's YUMMY caramels.

Okay, you are probably way ahead of me here, but be patient with me. Self-discovery sometimes take a while.

It wasn't until I was home, sound asleep in my bed, that revelation, like a bucket of cold water in the face, happened. As I slept, the events of that day replayed on the big screen of my sleeping brain, as did several other instances in which Pavlov had done something to take advantage of WHO I am and then tried to "reward" me with something. Sometimes his wife's YUMMY caramels, sometimes a meaningless compliment, sometimes a useless piece of advice. (The compliments and advice never make my mouth water, but those caramels...)

Suddenly out of sleep I was yanked when I shouted to myself, "He's treating you like a dog!"

Yeah, Pavlov has figured out my temperament. He has observed my involuntary reflexes. He gives the command, I obey, and then he offers a reward. --*Shame on me.

So what have I discovered about myself? Yes, I'd make someone a pretty good pet.

  • I do what ever I can to help people even when they mistreat me or take advantage of me. (I obey commands.)
  • I'm slow to recognize when someone is taking advantage of me because I don't take advantage of others. (I come back, wagging my tail after I've been kicked.)
  • Apparently I like rewards. (especially if the reward is a hunk of homemade caramel)
  • I don't make a mess in the floor. (But that has nothing to do with this post.)
I felt so angry and ashamed that I let this guy treat me like this. I lay there in my bed thinking about what I ought to do the next time Pavlov decides to use who I am against me. I ought to tell him to go get the paper himself. I ought to make him answer the phone and deal with the angry customer while I sell to the lady who just walked through the door. I ought to get right in Pavlov's face and ...

Then the Holy Spirit spoke silently yet so certainly, "But that's not WHO you are. You are made in the image of God with a heart bent toward grace. You are a reflection of Jesus Christ, an obedient servant who does what's right, no matter what others do to you. You are filled with, yes, God's Holy Spirit, a helper. And remember those fruits: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?"

So what will I do the next time Pavlov does something to get me off the floor or takes a customer from me? I'll probably, as usual, act instinctively, without thought. I will help, serve, minister, and do what is right--with grace and kindness--because that's who I am.

But when he pulls those caramels out of his pocket and my mouth starts to water, I'm going to firmly say, No! Thank! You! (I'll wait for my reward.)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Dumps

"THE HOLIDAYS" are over. All of them. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, and now even MLK Day, and I didn't blog a word about any of them. We didn't do much celebrating around here. In fact, we hardly noticed that any of the holidays came and went. "Bla" sums it up.

Now that we are halfway through the month of January, you'd think I'd be all bright eyed and bushy tailed, filled with new resolves, and bubbling over with hope for the year ahead. Strangely though, I am, well, still very much "Bla."

I'm not sure why I'm down in the dumps and out of such dumps I can't seem to drag myself. I don't believe any one particular thing has put me in this condition. No, it has been a combination of a whole bunch of stuff.  As my sweet and pious (and I mean that in a good way) sister put it, "2011 was the year from HELL." And for some unknown reason, there were enough sparks and embers left over to make the start of 2012 seem dark, scary, and smokey at best!

I know, this doesn't sound like me. I usually try to look on the bright side, right? So someone go head and slap me! Please! (Just don't everybody start ringing my door bell at once, okay?) I'm ready to feel happy about something, get excited about something, celebrate, and sing about something good! Oh HOW I'm ready! Unfortunately,  I've not been able to find that something.

I'm not ungrateful and I don't think I'm having a full blown pity party even though I do have a list of gripes. I know there are a lot of good things in my life. I am very blessed. Part of my dumpiness comes from sharing the hurts, disappointments, and burdens of others, not just my own.

If you feel like commenting and giving me all the pat answers that should fix my attitude problems, go right ahead. I'll consider that your "slap". (Insert smiley face.)

But what I really want to know from my readers is:
Honestly Now,
  • How do you deal with major disappointment? (especially if you are honest enough to admit that you feel that disappointed came from the hand of God)
  • Are you ever in the dumps and if so, what puts you there and how do you get out? 
  • Do you ever see hope in every one's future but yours? How do you deal with that?
  • Anything else you want to add here?

I really do want 2012 to be a better year. I'm praying for that. I'm praying for hope. Rain. Joy. Encouragement. Answers. Blessings. Vision. Direction. ....And discernment--to know what I should do to be in the middle of God's work and what I should NOT do so as not to get in His way!
Pray with me won't you?

Maybe I will get back before three more month waste away. You can anticipate a post about a  journey of self-discovery a friend of mine has encouraged me to take. I'll post more about it later because now I need to rush out the door to work. (#1 on my list of gripes).