Leaving the desert.

When I graduated university I entered a really intense desert period with Jesus. During the summer I read Job and I felt like we were kindred spirits, meeting thousands of years apart, fully understanding how the other felt about having the rug pulled out from under us and having everything (almost everything for me, any way) that we knew and loved taken away.

I have spent so much time in the past ten months crying out to God (literally and figuratively, and sometimes with actual tears), not having a clue why I was doing this alone or, really, how I was managing it. I frequently tell people, “I don’t know how I coped. In fact, truthfully, I didn’t cope at all. I didn’t cope.” And I didn’t. I turned my back on God at one point, angry that I was so lost, but eventually came running, nay, sprinting back to Him because I knew He was the only one who could truly fix things.

In Church, before Christmas, the sermon theme was ‘stepping out of the boat’, and the truth that you can’t walk on water if you never step out of the boat. It was as if Jesus was standing in front of me and shaking me, shouting at me to listen. He doesn’t often yell things right in my ear but this time he did. But, since I’m super smart *intense sarcasm intended*, I decided to ignore this until I reached breaking point this week. Usually Church was enough to keep me going, even if I wasn’t getting any fellowship, but I hadn’t gone for two weeks and I was becoming really weak. I had started to realise a lot of things about myself, the way I was treating people, the words I was using, etc., that weren’t making me happy. I had been in touch with a friend about joining the house group that he goes to (if you’re not sure, house groups/cell groups are small gatherings of people from the same Church who get together once a week to have fellowship on a more intimate level than normal Church, to discuss the Bible, pray, and have yummy food and amazing banter) but had chickened out last week. This week I was so in need of fellowship that I had no fear at all; I needed to go this week and nothing was going to stop me.

Being in that sort of environment again, for the first time in almost a year, just tore my heart up (in the best way, of course). I was quiet, yes, but I felt accepted and welcome and loved. I was so encouraged to know that I wasn’t the only one there who worked in a secular environment and that I have the same worries and stresses about the workplace that these people do. It was great to share my fears with them and to tell them that I was glad to be with them and that it truly meant a lot to me. Mostly, the discussion we had reminded me of how important it is for me to love my work mates, and to pray for them. I could go on and on about the way those two hours encouraged me¬†immensely¬†but I won’t bore you (hopefully I haven’t already).

What I’m trying to say is that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Monday evening was only the first night of getting to know these wonderful people, and sharing my life with them, and there are so many more nights to come. The desert can’t last forever and, eventually, you will reach the ocean.

All that’s left to do then is stepping on to the water; trust me, you can do it.

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Learning.

In January I passed my driving test and was really excited to finally gain a bit more independence, not having to rely on people to always give me lifts or always using public transport. However, the longer I’ve been driving I’ve noticed one very frustrating thing: society doesn’t leave any room for people to learn. I noticed this when I first started my job too. Every so often I would be speaking to a rude customer and they would say, “Are you new?” As if their frustration was completely down to the fact that I was still learning how to do my job and that being new and still learning was a bad thing. In regards to driving, I may have passed my test but tonight was the first time I’d driven to Belfast, and all the lane changes were quite confusing.

Here’s a quick summary of what happened:

  • I realised, at the last minute, that I needed to change lanes.
  • I had checked in my mirror, was certain no one was coming up behind me, and went to move over.
  • All of a sudden someone beeps their horn, but they don’t just do it briefly, they held it down for what was about 5 or 6 seconds (actually a reasonably long time).

It came across as very aggressive and actually had me in tears because I got so panicked by it all. To add to the trouble, in Northern Ireland you have to drive with ‘R’ plates (restricted) for the first year after you pass your test, allowing everyone on the road to know you haven’t been driving for very long. My issue with ‘R’ plates and how they do more harm than good in causing other drivers to think this means it’s their job to “teach you a lesson” or put you through some sort of sorority/fraternity style initiation is a whole other post, so I won’t bore you with that now.

It just really bothers me that every single person who has a driving license in the UK has been through the same process as me, but eventually something inside them goes, “Okay, you’ve been driving long enough to treat people like crap because you have no patience. Yep, that’s fine.” It’s the same in work: every person I speak to had to learn to do their job so why am I not allowed to learn to do mine?

It’s the same in so many situations; if you’re not perfect straight away you’re not good enough. I think it’s something to do with selfishness and self-entitlement, but I’m not too sure. Mostly I think it’s just a bullying tactic, to make yourself feel better because you’re not new to whatever it is you’re doing, or, in regards to dealing with customers, to make the person feel like they’ve failed at their job somehow because you haven’t got the response you wanted. We don’t laugh at people in school or university who are learning about a new subject for the first time, so why do we do it in other areas of life?

I think bullying is a big problem in society, to be honest, and not just between school kids. It happens at university, in the workplace, in day to day interactions with strangers, on the roads… And yet we’re all shocked when we hear stories of teenagers killing themselves because they’ve been picked on so terribly by their peers. The world is a harsh place but it appears to all be fun and games until someone gets hurt. But, as I’ve learnt through a job in customer service, adults are more immature than six year olds. I have said countless times that I would rather work with small children than adults because children use more logic than a lot of the people I’ve spoken to. If we don’t want our children to be bullied or be bullies we have to start acting like adults, not mirroring the negative attitudes that we have given to our children, because children learn from the people around them and, for most, those people are adults.

People need to learn, and I wish more had the opportunity to learn from responsible, mature adults. We need to give people space, we need to encourage them, and we need to build them up, not bully them and make them feel small. Being a bully only makes you look like an idiot.