Reality Smacks Us Right In the Face

People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.
Proverbs 10:9 NLT

We read our morning devotional together as a family to start or day as usual:

But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
Matthew 5:39 NLT

And my prayer was something along the lines of:

Lord, help us to be humble and faithful and forgiving. Help us to not expect anything ot of the world around us but wickedness and hurtful behaviour towards us from people who are lost and are full of sin instead of full of you. Lord, it isn’t easy when people at school are mean to us our our friends, and it isn’t easy in the workplace when things are unjust and we are faced with challenges beyond our control. Lord, help us to see these difficulties as a bold dividing line between how others lost in this world act and are seen and recognized, as opposed to those who love and serve you and not just themselves. Help us to be willing to shine brightly as that peculiar people you have called us to be, even when it is hard and difficult and feels unfair. And may the people recognize the difference of this faith, of this integrity, of the fruit of your sweet Holy Spirit stirring something up in us that is unexpected and unusual — so that they might want this for themselves — that they will draw close to us wondering what it is that is so different — that they will find you because it is Christ in us that is the source of this hope that they know instinctively that they need too. Lord, we can’t do this without you. It is too hard, too wearisome a road to try to walk perfectly and with integrity in a world that wrons us and our flesh cries out — producing grumbling, demanding justice, yearning for vengeance! You didn’t promise us a life of ease, living amongst a wicked, sinful world in compromise and comfort — and we may not see on this side the evidence of any effective change from this sowing of the seeds of your love, of your gospel, of suffering silently knowing that we share both in your sufferings and as heirs in heavenly treasures. But help us to do your will, too be your messengers, to keep our hand on the plow no matter the challenges around us. Help us to be willing to speak up for those around us who are being bullied and wronged, and to do our best to help them, even when it puts us directly in the line of fire instead. And help this burden to be light because we find peace in knowing that nothing in this world can steal us away from you and what lies ahead for your children. Amen.

There are some very real challenges in my workplace. We were recently purchased by a competitor and there have been serious management, compensation, process and culture changes that have come with this acquisition. This had been extremely stressful for most of the employees, with most folks admitting privately that they are either actively or passively seeking other employment. Honestly, I can’t say that the new company has any less integrity or any more wickedness than the previous owners, but everyone is not accustomed to the differences yet, so issues are compounded because of the lack of trust. People are getting thrown under the bus, and then are themselves tossing others under the bus, etc. And it has become in many ways a very toxic work environment, like dogs ripping and tearing at each other, and like caught criminals informing on each other — generally not out of a sense of integrity — but from a place of blame shifting and vengeance.

And with the technical and operational challenges of merging two very different companies, there are challenges that arise because of the necessary amount of change that is occurring to processes, systems, and personnel. In the midst of these changes, the are things that are broken and clearly not working right, and that are affecting my team of co-workers, but many are afraid to speak out or provide any honest feedback, because of the hostility and bullying they have seen and experienced first hand. Any value and trust that had been built with previous management has either left the building as those old managers were changed out for different ones, or they have been eroded by the toxic, dog eat dog environment of what the world would understand in comparison as an unexpected coop and ensuing occupation.

Now, we all know that some changes and even some occupation by foreign forces, can be liberating and prove good for the better of the country in the end. So don’t read into this that I’m condemning the new owners — without them, we would have been tossed aside with no jobs by the old owners. I’m simply sharing the current culture and environment so that you can understand the circumstances.

On a similar note, my daughter, who is a second grader is dealing with a group of girls who have risen up to pick on and bully others in her class and have created and environment that some days does it’s best to steal my little girl’s joy. She won’t speak openly with us about it very often, but I can see it in her normal facial expression no longer being that hopeful smile, but it is more often a pensive, shut down frown as her mind is a thousand meself away, trying to process the weight of the situation.

And I am the one in my own workplace, that when I see coworkers and teams suffering from the broken systems and processes that used to work properly but leave them now with no answers — I’m the one that opens the support tickets for the failing systems, and communicates the broken processes with management. And even though taking the time to document and report the issues seemingly just makes me in the eyes of others a trouble maker, a voice of discontent, someone who they would rather just respond to with “shut up and do your job”. I’m actually trying to help communicate effectively what will help better serve our “company values”.

So, I too understand after day after day of broken phone systems, failing applications, broken processes, absent supervision/support — where like my daughter’s situation, the bully/ problem doesn’t want you revealing what is going on, and the teacher/ management doesn’t want to see any evidence of something not going right “on their watch” — how the joy doesn’t seem quite so close and evident in my resting face, in my pensive moments, in those moments when I turn off the plastic, painted customer service voice of “Thank you for contacting _____, this is Hop, how can I help you today?” to sink back into the pit of today’s circumstances.

“It isn’t fair!”

“It isn’t fun!”

“People are sometimes really jerks!”

A voice shouts at me from inside my head.

“You can show them!”

“You could make them pay!”

That same voice entices me to not only ignore any remaining joy or peace left dwindling in my mind, but to pour out the sickening vomit of grumbling, of dissent, of vengeance upon anyone “deserving” that is within reach.

But that enemy, that flesh or demon, whichever it may be — shouldn’t have mentioned the word “deserving”.

Because what am I deserving before the Lord, but the very things that the voice wants me to pour out onto others?

So I remember what Jesus Christ endured when He truly deserved none of the suffering and shame. I remember all that I have done wrong that deserves worse than I have received. I remember that everyone around me is fallible and falls short of the glory of God. I remember that I could expect worse than I receive from the wickedness of this world if it were not for the grace of God.

And I am renewed.

And eventually, the truth will be revealed.

Until then we share in the sufferings, just as one day we will share as heirs with Christ.

Lord, as I prayed this morning, help us. Help my daughter endure not only those who would put her down and try to tear her down, but that she would continually be willing to step forward for those others that ate being hurt — even when it hurts to do so and makes her a target. Lord, let it be a shining testimony of Christ in her. And as much as I want her to never be hurt, never suffer pain, never be wronged, never be broken hearted by the fallen things of this world — let this drive us to you, Lord. Help me, Lord. Help. Amen.

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