I had a manager who before he became my manager, tried to out shine me. He usually failed. So, when he became my manager, he was scared. I could see that. And I tried to open to the Lord, especially when he first became my manager. I vowed to serve him well, and I tried.
But he continued to be afraid, and all my attempts to help him see that he needed strategy not bluster, just seemed make him more afraid. Maybe he saw in me that if he accepted my guidance toward strategy that I would do some sort of “I told you so”. I don’t know. But I seem to remember long seasons of putting me down, and criticism. Interrupted here and there by some occasional times of kindness. In the end, he edited my employee input to my performance appraisal, because it reflected poorly on him. And he said that he couldn’t justify my salary and benefits.
After 7 years, he left for a better paying job. I rejoiced at his being gone. I felt that it was an act of mercy from God. But I had let bitterness grow. He was a manipulator. His manager, an assistant vice president was having conflict with another AVP. I don’t know if he instigated it, but it seems that he heated it up. After he left, our AVP asked me about some things, accusing his rival. I asked where he got the information. He said my manager. I told him that as far as I knew, and I knew pretty well, what he was told was just not true. But, the AVP would go back to the original narrative rather than admit that he had been wrong.
My current manager has spoken to me wisely and gently, but clearly about how sometimes, something will hit a sore spot, and I will come off very bitter and judgmental regarding his predecessor, and the AVP. I could see what he saw. I knew that bitterness wasn’t good. I had tried to forgive them, and thought that I had time after time. But the bitterness was still there. The soreness was still there. My manager is a follower of Jesus too, and he really wants the best for me.
So today we were talking, and I said that I thought that I was a place where I could let it go. If they were *ssholes, and treated me poorly, that was between them and God. But, it didn’t ring true. Something was still there.
So tonight, when I was walking the dog, Holy Spirit seemed to say “And Who gave them their authority that they misused?” “And Who knew that they would misuse it, or use it in ignorance?”
I had tried to forgive the people that I could see, and see their flaws. But, I was really still angry with God. I hated that time and all that I suffered. I hated that He had given men with less skill, and less intelligence, and less of a desire to live for Him better jobs and more wealth. I was an ignorant fool. And a sinner. I was judging God.
I know that He loves them. He needed someone who would follow Him close to them. He wanted to be kind to them in order to lead them to repentance. (Rom 2:4). He also wanted to be kind to me to turn me to greater growth. But I came up short.
It doesn’t seem to help to know that I am not alone. Psalm 73 speaks of where I was, and where I am.
2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot. 8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; (NASB)
Except, my feet didn’t just come close to stumbling. And, when I read this, I can imagine a time where feudal lords held more power than these men, and so were really much worse.
And, I knew better. I knew the verses that followed.
I can say that I really know the feelings expressed in
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence; 14 For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning.
Again, except that I didn’t keep my heart pure. There was another Christian in the office who I would pour out my hurt to, instead of taking it to God. It was wrong to put him in that position. He was not God.
I learned to hate coming to work. I would cringe when his number would come up on Caller ID. I learned to just not care about what he or any manager thought of my performance.
But secretly, I questioned God, and His love for me. Why did He allow this? And this wasn’t the only place where I was suffering. I was suffering at home. I was suffering at church. I was suffering in relationships. I didn’t feel that I could be honest about my suffering to an person, because first they might run from me overwhelmed, and second they might question the God that I love (as best as I can), and who I believe loves me, even though there are many times that if so much by faith and not by circumstances.
I can really relate to Ps 31:11
I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me. When they see me on the street,
they run the other way. (NLT)
I have tried different things. When I used to tell just parts of my story, I was convicted about holding things back, and not being completely vulnerable. When I let God be in control of losing friends, I lost friends consistently.
JJ Heller has a song called “What Love Really Means“
The opening lyrics are
He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night
Dear God, won’t you please
Could you send someone here who will love me?
I wasn’t a kid, but I would go off by myself to cry. And people believed my story, but left.
I cried just now, as I listened to the music video. He fully knows me. He sent JJ Heller to sing what I can’t put in words. Even the last verse is true for me. Jesus equated saying “You fool” to someone as holding murder in their heart. I have held that murder in my heart at times for my manager, and the AVP. I need to know that He still loves me. And that He forgives me.
“He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
“Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home”
I can relate to that too. I feel like I am in a cell. Every place that I turn, I seem to screw up. I want to go home, so I stop failing, especially those whom I care about.
And not just that, but if they saw Him in me while I was working for them, it would be a miracle. A true miracle. Most of the time, they probably saw me holding my tongue. But they didn’t see love. They didn’t see His love.
Lord, please undo all my selfish foolishness. Father, please draw them to Your son Jesus. And I believe that He wants to, and will, but it will be in spite of me. And even here, I hold both belief and unbelief.
So Psalm 73 has a turn in it.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. 22 I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. 23 Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. (NLT)
Again, I can so relate. All these years of jealousy and bitterness have torn me up inside. That is where most of the pain comes from. Me. Me not them. And why would He heal me when it was “your own damn fault”. I don’t know what love (and mercy) mean. And that has torn me up further, because I can’t give what I have not received. And that has implications especially for family.
But condemning myself doesn’t help either. Jesus was condemned for all my failures. Including these.