August 14, 2010

I've Been Attacked!

Oh, what a dreadful morning this is -- and it is only 7:00 a.m. First off, I woke up to one of my male cats spraying in my closet. He does this occassionally, but has not had an incident in over six months. I changed his food, and the spraying stopped -- immediately. However, within the last couple weeks, and since I started working, I had to go back to the cheap stuff. The spraying started up again last night. So at 4:30 a.m., I was up scrubbing my closet floor, washing a throw rug, and pillow, and generally being miserable. Then after falling back to sleep for a time, I got up to feed the cats only to find the entire kitchen floor covered in ants. And, I mean ANTS! We have these especially nasty ones here in AZ. They are offensive type ants, and will attack anything in their way. They bite like crazy, so at 6:00 a.m., I was trying not to get bitten while I vacuumed, sprayed, and then mopped the floor with bleach/cleaner. I am now at my desk, having my first cup of coffee and downing the last of the mini donuts I bought last week.

I have to work a long shift at Macy's today, and I am just not looking forward to doing it. I was so excited about working there, but after meeting a wide range of sales associates, I have discovered that Macy's is not the best place to work. The people have been very nice to me, that is for certain; but, most are dissatisfied with the amount of work (and I agree), the low pay, and the constant harrassment from managment to sell more credit. I have noticed it, and while I try not to let it pull my attitude down, it has had an effect on me. I see the work, the low pay, and the physical drain on me and it has only been one week. I regret taking this position now, and have prayed to the Lord about it. I don't want to stop thanking Him for His provision, but I am just not a good fit, and I think He knows it (knew it). Of course, Carol -- of course the Lord knew it. I just needed to test it out so that I WOULD KNOW IT TOO.

What do I do now? Do I go in and quit? Do I say to them, "Ok, I have worked a week, and this is just not a good fit for me?" Agh! I hate having to quit things, and I hate giving up. I don't see any positives coming out of this situation at all. My manager offered me full-time work, and I looked him in the eye and said that I didn't think I could do that "physically". It was the truth. My feet and back ache and I am not able to work any longer, any harder, or any more hours than I already have. Plus, I cannot imagine working more hours for this low pay. There is no way I could do anything else, which is what I had thought would be the case. I cannot do it, I cannot do it, I just cannot do it.

Here is the rub in all of this: my family thinks I need to stick it out. They don't want to see me unemployed again. I understand their point of view, but at the same time, they are not working this shift nor at this place. They say "Carol, don't give up. Something else will come around." Yes, but how do I find something else when I am dead tired and unable to stand? I don't think so. Plus, they are not trusting in the Lord for His Provision. He provided me with this job -- for whatever reason -- and I know He will provide something else. I don't see God as a one-stop shop. I mean, you don't ask Him for something, then get it, and say to yourself: "Ok, now you've used up your one request, so go be happy about it." The Word tells us to ask for anything, and it is not specific as to how much we can ask for at any given moment. We can ask, and ask, and ask, and the Word says that if it is within His will, it will be given to us.

Macy's was within the Lord's will, that is for certain. It would not have come to pass otherwise. This is the thing I have come to understand about the Lord's will -- it is not all or nothing -- it is everything. We tend to be so fixed and literal about everything, and that is not how it is with God. Our God gives liberally, with abundance, and that means that within His specific will for your life, there are many, many choices. They all are within His will, but some are better than others. And, when I say better, I don't mean it this way: good, better, best. With God, all things are GOOD. Some things suit you better at this time or that -- somethings are a better fit now; somethings are a better fit later. They are all good, just not the best fit today, tomorrow or in the future. Does that make sense?

So with this stream of logic, I am able to say: "Thank you, Lord, for the experience of Macy's. It was interesting to test it out, but I see that it is not the best fit for me at this point in my life." I know that there is a better fit for me, a better choice, a better opportunity. It is not better in the sense of Macy's/bad; other job/good -- it is just like a good pair of shoes -- they won't rub me in the wrong place. I am seeking that good pair of shoes that won't rub me in the wrong place. I have poor feet, tired feet, aching feet -- and they need good, supportive shoes. I am taking off these poor fitting shoes and putting on some comfy ones, that is all.

Now to my comfortable shoes, this I say: "Thank you, Lord, for providing me with good shoes, good comfortable shoes. Shoes that do not hurt my feet, do not cause blisters or aches in my back. Thank you that these shoes support me well, and give me the needed support to provide stabilization and the ability to walk well. I am thanking you for your provision of these good shoes this day. In Jesus' name, I give you all the Praise. Amen."

My good shoes happen to be the job I have done for now on ten years. At times, the shoes fit me well, and at other times, well they got a bit worn in. I thought I needed different shoes, a different job, a different career and life; when in reality, I just need a new pair of the SAME shoes. Sometimes the soles wear out, the sides give in, and the arches go flat. This is due to wear and tear, and you usually can sense it. The shoes look worn and tired and old. That is how I felt about the work I was doing from home. I was worn out, tired of doing the same old thing. I wanted to do something different. So I tossed out those old shoes, and searched for new ones that would fit me as well. Nothing I tried on worked, nothing I put on my feet felt good on me. It took me a very long time to realize that what worked for me before would and could work for me again -- so long as this time -- I gave Him the Glory. This time, the job, the business, everything was to be done unto His Name and for His Glory.

My old job, my old work was not surrendered to Him. It was done for one purpose and that was to make money for my husband. I say it this way because it was the truth, and because of that fact, I deeply resented doing the work. I didn't like the clients he brought to me, and while they paid me, I was constantly at odds with them. My spirit worked unto the Lord, and the Lord blessed me with the ability to keep most of these people on my side ("He that has all hearts in his hand, can make a man's enemies to be at peace with him." ~Proverbs 16:7). God Graciously enabled me to shine His light into the hearts of those I provided service to, and I was able to continue to do business with them. I didn't like the way the business was run, was organized, or even conducted on a day to day basis. I felt like an employee in my own home, and not an owner of a business. Furthermore, I never saw a dime of the money that I earned. It came in, was deposited and then spent on things beyond my knowledge. Yes, the bills were paid -- often late, often missed, and sometimes not at all. The money, enough to cover us and care for us, just never seemed to make ends meet. I don't know where it went to or how it was spent -- I was not given permission to know that, so all I did know is that I had to work harder, work more hours, and do more to make things well for us.

I finally gave up. I gave in about three years ago after crying out to the Lord for His Mercy and Provision of another way. I waited, I begged, I pleaded for Him to release me from this work. Finally, He did it. Finally, He said OK. It was three years of patiently waiting, patiently enduring, and patiently trusting Him to provide another way. When I stopped working in this business, our life fell apart. And, I mean it fell apart. I began to see that my efforts were the reason we were staying afloat. It was as if I stopped paddling, and our boat started to sink. I stopped moving us, pushing us, and driving us, and we simply stopped in our tracks. I realized then and there that I had been the sole provider for my family -- consistently -- since the beginning of our marriage. While my husband worked, he never really worked consistently. He would go from one job to the next, from one big idea to the next, and from one get rich scheme to the next. I would work hourly; work long, long hours doing work I detested just so we could pay the bills. I would beg, I would plead, I would ask to be released from the work; but he would always say "no, we cannot afford to have you quit." Why was this so? Why was I killing myself to make ends meet? Simply because without my work we wouldn't eat. God provided me with jobs that met my needs. My husband, on the other hand, took what I worked and used it as extra income for him. He bought seminars and tapes without my knowledge, books from, items from the Internet, lunches out, dinners out, and event promotions --all in the name of doing "his business." In short, my work was done to support my husband's lifestyle and business needs. He used me to keep himself in business. When his business failed to bring in enough money, he simply told me to work harder, to work more hours, to find more clients, to collect more money.

Now, I am sure he would disagree with me, but I think I am looking at all this logically. I have, after all, had time to evaluate the truth, to discuss it with the Lord, and then see it laid out plainly and clearly. Yes, this is the truth, whether I like it or not. I have been a slave to a man who used me to support his lifestyle, his dreams and his aspirations. I have suffered physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually as I attempted to respect and to love a man who had an insatiable love for himself.

I write all this simply to get it out, to say it, to make it stand on it's own. I am no longer ashamed of what I did -- I did what I had to do -- to keep a roof over my head, and food in our bellies. Now, though, I am on my own (practially speaking), and I am working on a new plan, going down a new road. God is my Driver, He is my Leader and my Guide. He tells me where He is going, and I ride along with Him. I don't call the shots, I don't say "Let's go here today." No, He says where we are to go, what we are to do, and how we will do it. I simply agree to participate and follow Him. I am good at following, after all, I have followed someone for a long time. The difference now is that the One I am following will never take advantage of me, will never ask anything of me that He hasn't already done or experienced, and will never betray and abandon me in favor of someone else. Nope, my God is with me until the end, and I am blessed.

God is so very GOOD to me.

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