[The wages of sin]
When I was 15 years of age, I sought out my very first job, landing an interview for a position at the food-court in the mall. As fate would have it, that interview proved to be the highlight of this new venture–being that the lady interviewing me was very kind. Unfortunately, and even bizarrely, as with my first educational experience, my first work experience would go uncannily similar: the lady interviewing me would not be the boss that I’d receive. Unbeknownst to me, she was interviewing for two different stalls in the food-court.
Like my first teacher, my first boss also had a challenging personality. I’ll give you, being that this was my first job, I was a nervous wreck, but she was also very moody and impatient. Her demanding personality didn’t help my social anxiety one bit; I couldn’t think straight and I wasn’t catching on quickly, but to be fare, she expected way too much, too soon.
Not long after I started this job, she pulled me aside and gave me an ultimatum about my poor performance and informed me that I would be put on a probationary period. This has never happened to me at any other job I’ve held. To me now, it seems ridiculous. I quit that job not long after her ultimatum; having her constantly breathing down my neck, and receiving her impatient snears were more than I could handle. I never did perform well under pressure; my mind would go blank, making it impossible to hold onto new information. Do you know how hard it is to learn anything under those conditions?
From there I went from job to job. Either I would quit due to the anxiety, or I would get fired because I lacked the confidence to boldly interact with people. In truth, not every job that I lost was due to my inability to do the job well. I was trying, but it’s a jungle out there.
While working at a clothing store at the mall, the entire staff came under review. Making a real effort to improve my customer service skills, I was helping a customer with the shops assortment of leather jackets. Undecided, she told me she’d need some time to think things over, then she left the store to investigate other shops as she considered the jacket. When she returned, she asked for me by name, ready to make the purchase.
Unfortunately, as with any jungle, there was a snake in the grass; my assistant manager insisted on taking the sale. (Well of course she did. She was under review too, but this was my customer! It should have been my sale!) I lost credit for that sale; I also ended up losing my job. There was no hope of me proving that I was capable of doing this job. I learned then that people will stomp all over you given the opportunity. Being that I was just a lowly clerk I was in no position to do anything about this.
When I worked a job busing tables, we were told to arrive 15 minutes early so that we’d be available to start our shift immediately in the event that the restaurant was busy. Most of the time I’d anxiously tremble while I waited out those 15 minutes before my shift started. I was often sexually harassed on the job (even by the assistant manager), but thankfully my gut instincts have always proven to serve me well; I turned down a date with a guy who I’d later find out had a bet going with his buddy in back (the dishwasher). For whatever reason, he informed me that they wanted to see who could get me into bed first. That was never going to happen, so neither of them were able to collect anything on that bet.
The last job that I held outside of the home was while I was dating Andrew; it was a t-shirt shop in the mall. My memories of that job aren’t all bad; when the owner of the shop wasn’t there I did just fine. I opened the shop on my own, and I’d confidently assist any customers that came into the store. However, when the owner was there it was a totally different story. I had no confidence and I made mistakes. He wasn’t an easy employer to please either. When the money was rolling in, he was temporarily a happy camper; he’d even buy the staff hot chocolate, but catch him when he was losing money and his tune quickly changed; then he wasn’t such a nice man to work for.
It wasn’t too long after I started this job that I made a mistake that could cost him some money. It was an honest mistake; I didn’t know what I was doing. He was so outraged by this, that he asked me if I was stupid. Back then it wasn’t too common for me to stick up for myself, but this was one of those rare moments when I understood that I didn’t deserve that. (Nobody does) So I stood up for myself and I reminded him that I was a new employee who didn’t know all the ins and outs of the business yet. He fought me on this by saying that I told him I’d had experience on cash. I informed him that he was wrong and that what I had in fact told him during the interview was that I didn’t have any experience on cash. With a rather sheepish look, he backed down. I believe he even apologized, but the sting of him insinuating that I was stupid didn’t fade so easily.
When I got home, Andrew was waiting for me at the apartment I shared with one of my older brothers. Still upset by my bosses words, I couldn’t hide it, so I ended up in tears. Being that Andrew is very protective of me, he offered to have a word with my boss. As I always do when Andrew gets a little riled up about anything, I insisted that he would do no such thing. He then said that I should quit my job and he’d take care of me. Only dating at the time, I didn’t feel it would be right to let Andrew do that, so I decided to stick it out.
This particular job was family run and they were not fun to work for, my bosses wife would come in and make her demands, then my boss would come in and tell me not to listen to his wife. Of course his wife would tell me the same thing. If that wasn’t chaos enough one day my bosses daughter decided to rearrange the entire store, causing an upheaval. When her father informed me that I’d have to come in on the weekend and help put the store back in order, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Having had quite enough, I decided to finally take Andrew up on his offer.
Other than doing a bit of work at my aunt’s office, my work since then has been from home. When Andrew and I got married he said to me that I wouldn’t have to work if I didn’t want to. I wasn’t enjoying the workforce so I did take him up on this offer. When Andrew’s health difficulties forced us to both apply for welfare, God blessed us with an opportunity to work together from home; Andrew’s aunt had taken on a small ceramics endeavor which she offered to us. Weighing our options, trying our hand at ceramics seemed much more desirable to both of us then being on welfare. Currently, due to severe health challenges neither Andrew nor I are able to work, still we trust God to provide and He always does.
When I look back at everything that I went through and the people who’ve either handled me all wrong or purposely cut me down, I don’t have any difficulty understanding why I struggled so much with social anxiety and low self-esteem. Through all of those years, however, I just couldn’t see the truth. I came through it feeling as if I was the one who was an incompetent misfit. I always felt so weak and small. I saw myself as abnormal. I was uncomfortable in intimate social situations (I didn’t know how to socialize) and I’d follow Andrew around like a lost puppy, afraid to end up alone with anyone; they might ask me questions after all, and figure out that I was a nobody who was good for nothing. At least that’s how I saw myself.
I was striving and struggling to live up to everyone else’s criteria and expectations with no hope of ever being able to do so. I didn’t fit in and I really didn’t feel like there was a place for me. Thankfully, I was wrong. When I became a Christian my perspective changed. I can’t even say when it officially began to change, but one day as I glanced back I realized I didn’t see anything as I once had. Thus the poem I wrote titled: Loving Me Gently
While difficult people aren’t in short supply, I’ve also met and known people who are extremely warm and compassionate. I’ve known those who make it their mission to build others up and are always available for a friend in need (One of those people is my sweet husband), Having viewed life from more than one angle I’ve come to understand this:
Where people blame God for the shortcomings of humanity, I see a God Who is slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8) It’s not the Lord Who hurts people, it’s people who hurt people. However, all of mankind will face their Maker, whether they believe in Him or not.
Those early years may have done their damage, but when I was given the gift to be born again into a new life and a new spirit, everything changed. Once more I was given a fresh start. The closer I walk with Jesus (my Lord and Savior) the more vulnerable I find that I can allow myself to be, and the less insecure I find myself in that vulnerability. I know that I have nothing to fear because the God I know is merciful and compassionate. Those who trust in Him will not be put to shame. (Isaiah 49:23)
The truth is, that the truth truly did set me free. In fact, it continues to set me free. I’m still changing and growing as I grow closer to my Lord and those insecurities and fears just don’t have that same grip on me they once had. I don’t have that grip on them either. (Thanks Kenn for your insight on fear. [ Snowgators ]
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” –Matthew 10:28
I chose “God’s Kid Speaks” as the title for my blog because it speaks of who I am today. It also speaks of the desire I have to share what God puts on my heart. However, much like a mocking reminder, those years that I was silent came flooding back to taunt me. I decided I’d shrug it off. As I wrote this piece, I realized the testimony in my story. (God’s story really.) Unintentionally, “God’s Kid Speaks” has more than one meaning I suppose. It may also be a reminder of my past, but my past helps to prove the sheltering love of God in my life today. He took me out of all of that and gave me something far better. I no longer have to live in fear of man because it’s not man that I aim to please; instead, it’s my Lord Jesus.
The first twenty-one years of my life may have defined me, however walking with the Lord began the journey that is redefining me. True disciples of Jesus know the truth. We believe that every word that Jesus ever uttered while He walked the earth is irrefutable and infallible. We also still hear His still small voice when He speaks to us today. As Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28) The truth brings everything into the light, but this is a good thing because it’s only when we can see where we’ve gone wrong that we can begin again—this time with God.
“Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.” –Romans 4:4-5
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 6:23
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. –Romans 1:17-21
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. –Romans 1:28-32
“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. –Romans 2:1-8
“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”–Romans 2:13