I haven’t written in over a week and I feel exactly the same as when I don’t work out for a week: bloated and heavy and miserable. I would like to say that I have been successfully working on my book every day, but even that has taken a detour. And why is that exactly? Work.
At the risk of repeating myself: I HATE MY JOB. That’s not an exaggeration. Last January, when I was on my previous ship in the whirlwind of craziness, I found a lump in my breast and had to have a mammogram and a biopsy. I was convinced that I had breast cancer. I could practically hear the words the doctor was going to say when he sat across a cheap, dark-stained desk from me and changed my life forever. I thought about this constantly as I waited for the results and how I was going to react to it. Do you know what the benefit (in my head) from having breast cancer was? Well, at least I don’t have to go to my next ship.
Is that shocking? I thought that was a relatively unique sentiment until one of my co-workers shared a dream that he had recently. It was a very vivid dream where he had cancer and he thought the exact same thing: well, at least I don’t have to be on this ship anymore. I don’t mean to make light of cancer in any way, but how awful is your job when you dream about a terminal illness to get away from it?
I used to try to “pray the craziness away.” I’d pray that all of the drama and headache would just disappear one unassuming Monday morning. I’d wake up and my life would be different and filled with more kissing, laughter and dancing and way less screaming. I’d dream of alternate, better endings for my life where I’d get the Olmsted scholarship that I wanted so badly or I’d develop some type of blood issue and not be allowed to work around radiation anymore or I’d get selected to do something (anything) that wasn’t this.
I don’t pray for that anymore. Not because I don’t want something else. It’s just that I’ve come to understand that pain and suffering are a part of life (they are currently a rather large part of my life). And, well, this is my life– the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is the path I am on. And perhaps you think suffering seems too strong a sentiment for one’s work, but you don’t know my job. And in the words of Stephen Chbosky: ‘And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.’
And what I have is a job that seems beyond the limits of my patience, kindness, and effort on all but the rarest of days. I have been taking heart in this particular verse as of late:
Tribulations? Check, got those. Perseverance? Hmm.. I think I may have gotten this perseverance part down. And by down, I mean I no longer feel the need to turn heel and run in the opposite direction whenever things start heading towards Antarctica (there’s definitely a reason why grit is my word this year). I think I am firmly entrenched in the character building phase.
This is the part where I would normally say, “this character building is the hard part.” But, I’d be lying because it’s all been pretty hard. Tribulations are just as hard as sticking it out through the tough times and character building is just an extension of all of this. I am at the point where I can choose to be bettered by this experience or embittered. Better vs Bitter. What a difference — what a life — one letter can make.
But like everything else, this is hard. Sometimes I catch the arch in my voice and the quick inhale of breath as I start to wind up. Sometimes I hear the wheedling sound my voice makes when I complain, and I cringe. Who is this girl, I think, and what has she done to the real me? This past week I didn’t even recognize the girl who lost complete control of well, everything. The real me is going through the fiery furnace and I’m not really sure who is going to make it out alive. I don’t know what me will be left standing. My heart’s prayer is that I am changed for the better, but it honestly seems to be anyone’s game at this point. How do I get better without letting my circumstances get the better of me?
Step 1. Read Tim Keller’s book, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering
Step 2. Pray
I haven’t really gotten any further than step 2.
But,I did have a mentoring session with one of my girls this week and she is going through some intense suffering of her own. When she asked me how am I going to get through this? I told her one day at a time ; same way you get through anything else. I think I’ll take my own advice on this one. And come up with some more steps…