About a year ago I wrote a post here about how change is hard for both the agents of change and those who live it. I was smack in the middle of a theoretical throw down at work with a group of concerned and anxious parents. I said then that I would not give airtime to the ones who made it personal. But, today, I feel like I need to give airtime to all of those who did not, for the good far outnumber the mean.
You see, it is easy to focus on the negative when it’s in your face. It would have been very easy for me to vilify the people of this parish and decide “they” were all one amorphous group who acted and thought the way the few loud and vocal apples did.
I tried so hard not to do that. I tried to wade and wait through the turmoil so that I could get to the other side and really know the people I was here to serve. And, all the while I tried to be mindful of the fact that I was called here to serve, not be served. I didn’t always do this well. There were many nights I complained to anyone in my house who would listen and painted broad strokes with a less-than-kind brush.
I spent a good deal of last fall thinking I would quit this job at any moment. I was full of angst and doubt over the decision to come here and the outward signs were confirming my worry. Sometime after I wrote that post I decided to dig in, but it was almost out of spite, so I still wasn’t feeling completely good about the decision.
Then, more time passed and a funny thing happened: peace came, and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
I started to look at my job and this place with a whole new set of eyes. Instead of focusing on myself and how I was feeling, I started to look for ways to use myself to help others. You know what happened? Seemingly out of the woodwork came hordes of amazing people. Every day I am filled up by the interactions I have.
There are funny people and warm people. There are ridiculously helpful people and there are grateful people. There are talented and beautiful and wickedly smart people. I have not only come to find peace in the job, but I have developed such a love for the people at this church that I claim them as my own. And, much like family, I can still tease, but I better not hear you say a bad word against or else I’m coming for you!
So, what changed? Did suddenly all the doubters and naysayers and meanies leave? No. Did I transform them with my charm and wit? Decidedly not as I’m not terribly witty or charming.
What changed was my perspective. I stopped putting so much stock into the negativity and started actively looking for how I could provide value to the people I interacted with. I stopped looking for a way out and started figuring out how to make staying better. In short, I stopped looking only to be fulfilled and started trying to fulfill, and as you might expect, everyone wins.
I started walking the walk of someone called to serve and instead of figuring out how I was being made to feel, I shifted my focus outward, on making others feel good. When you spread joy, it usually comes right back.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still a fair amount of eye-rolling moments during my day. But mostly, I wake excited to go and leave a sense of a job well done. Call it magic. Call it God. Call it choices and self-motivation. Whatever the reason, this time, change wasn’t hard at all.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.