Vocationisms: Grace in the Workplace

mosquitos meet grace

Last week, one of my dearest friends in California, Dominique, asked me how I did Reslife with such beauty, grace, and joy. And in the midst of a frustrating job week, her question rejuvenated some grace-filled thoughts for me on why I love what I do.

I got her message right in the middle of an "I feel like a flaming-epic-tall-glass-of-failure" week.

I've had a few of those weeks in these past few months of being "new" to my job. Typical to failure, I WRITHE in it while it's happening, and, of course, send it a kind "wink and nod" when I look back on how abundantly I grew from it... I'm pretty sure it's the most tangible love/hate relationship in my life.

Some days I forget that it's okay to LEARN through failure. You can ask Brett, I think most of his frustration with me during our marriage has been mainly because I chose to let failure defeat me instead of teach me (Now's a good time to mention that if you've never seen J.K. Rowling's Harvard speech on "the benefits of failure", you need to go watch that right now and be changed. Stop reading my blog). There are some days, when, for some reason, I let my imperfectness consume my every thought until my heart feels dried out  and bitter like a nasty raisin.

All that to say, here's where my rejuvenating thoughts have brought me and why I love my job: I'm learning how to live out my own values as well as the values of the institution I'm working for. I'm learning how to work within someone else's expectations. I'm learning what it's like to come in half way through, when teams have been formed, bonds of friendship and trust have been made, and "the usual way" (or my absolute favorite "this is how we always do it") has been established already. I'm learning that comparison is the root of all frustration. Starting a relational job half way through the year has left me feeling as if I've had to (sometimes) weasel my way into my followers lives... begging them to trust me, to trust in my ideas, or asking them to let me lead differently than those who preceded me. I love that I've learned how to lovingly persuade and clearly communicate my expectations through this, because I don't think I realized how difficult that can be.

About two years ago I went on a TEN day leadership training trek with my university. This Walkabout trek not showering for ten days I thought I would hate (but loved... A LOT) was awesome. The only thing that sucked on that specific trek was the ridiculous swarms of mosquitoes we encountered. Those vicious vampire mosquitoes literally sucked our blood. ALL. GONE. A few days in, we ran out of bug repellent and found ourselves covered in itchy bites. Our faces started getting deformed from all the bites and that hideous mosquito net hat I swore to my Dad that I'd never wear became my key to sanity. I'll never forget how hard I had to fight for patience and positivity on that trip.

While we were treking, we camped by this beautiful lake. All the girls from my team had gone down to the lake to rest on these huge inviting slabs of rock. As I joined them, I stepped into the grass  behind a bush to change into my swimsuit... but as I did that I realized I had unleashed hell's furry of mosquitoes resting there. They were worse than vampires. They began World War 3 on all of us.  And about 2 minutes later, everyone had peaced out and I felt aweful for messing up their peaceful time...  I felt like I had cut off intentionality, something I cherish most. I felt as if I had missed out on great potential conversations. I felt embarrassed and silly. I still remember how I felt and how frustrated it made me... with me.

I think thats how this job has been. I really wanted this job. I really love this job. I'm still learning it, but I still enjoy it.  I think some days I leave work feeling as if I haven't done anything right though. Feeling as if I have only stirred up the mosquitoes and made everyone frustrated. Feelings as if I've stifled intentionality instead of cultivated it. Some days I feel as if I stirred up the mosquitos but have chosen to just laugh them off at the end of the day. And most days, I feel like the only person who's really frustrated with me... is me.

I've spent an entire night thinking and praying about these things... and here's where my heart has landed. I'm reminded that I really am thankful for God's grace. I honestly think I would suck at this job without such a Faithful Father. Because of Him I can confidently invite humility into my life as I learn and grow. Because of Him, I strive to not glorify myself. I strive to not please man ... Because of Him I strive to glorify God by loving others with the same love He so fiercely has for me. My GOSH, how many times  will I be reminded of this truth?!

Today I'm not asking the question, When will I ever be perfect enough to receive His grace in the work place?

Today I'm proclaiming:  Praise Yahweh, for He has given me so much grace to move my heart from one degree of glory to the next, even in the vocational work I do on this earth. 

Stacie Stine

Design Jamboree, Denton, Texas, United States