This afternoon was another hard battle with the nasty thoughts and feelings of angst and pain from a lost friendship. I feel that her hatred or stubbornness towards me was not only costing the department efficiency, it was also compromising on the quality of students’ learning and my professional outlook. Today I found out that she had shared information on reading programmes with other teachers in the department, but had conveniently left me out. I had a good mind to confront her about everything that has happened, but as I picked up my phone to craft a message, my fears of rejection and anger towards her got the better of me. Once again, that urge to deal with this conflict face to face subsided and is temporarily cast aside. I have to admit, when things happen that remind me of the nasty aftertaste our friendship has withered into, I need to get into my car, drive off and let it all out – sometimes as if I am talking to her, other times as if I am talking to someone else.
I think I have learnt that friendship is hardly ever a constant, and sometimes, relationships can turn sour, even the most unexpected ones. These demons have been plaguing my mind and my heart for weeks, and I really do not know to expel them from within me, if that is even possible. I realised what disgusts me at this point is not the bitterness that we have harboured between us, but the uncertainty of what is to come. I need to know if she expects or foresees a reconciliation. If that is not on the menu, I will then learn to adapt and work around it. What is driving me nuts right now, is not knowing how she is feeling, or what she is thinking. Today she walked past my cubicle, and in her eyes I saw an impenetrable glassiness, maybe even a sense of iciness that she had set up, perhaps to guard herself from wearing her emotions on her sleeves. All my remaining resolve to re-establish contact and speak to her personally melted away in desperation and pain.
This is not the only thing that is creating an unfathomable and unpleasant stir in my heart. As our managers iron out the intricate details of our roles and responsibilities in 2015, I realised a slipping in and out of contentment and discontentment. A good friend of mine attributed it to seeing how everyone else seemed to be “more in control” than I was. They were assigned the classes they had hoped for and the coordinatorship roles they had requested for. On the other hand, my dreams were crushed when I found out about some of my assigned duties, and that not everything had developed according to what I had in mind for myself.
I was upset – more than I probably needed to be – that my colleague requested for a duty I was given. My role has a coordinator was that simply taken away. There were practical reasons for my colleague to have made that request, but I took offense that she had done so at a meeting in front of all of us, leaving little room for private negotiation or discussion. I took offense that she had earlier asked that I put in a request that she be given the role instead. I took offense that she was inexperienced and yet demanded so much – I questioned how ready she was and whether or not she truly knew what was at stake. I was upset that when our shared concern to refine the Lower Secondary syllabus and assessment gave way to a stronger more balanced curriculum, she seemed to forget that we had pushed for it together. I know for sure that she has reasons to be proud of herself for she had accomplished much. But for what she asked for and was given, I felt she had taken away.
I don’t think I have ever experienced jealousy in the workplace quite so pungently before. Perhaps there never was direct competition.
But I need to pause and reflect again. When writing the previous entry, “Learning to Let Go” – you would see a blank entry right now, which is testament to God teaching me to let go (similar to the title), even when a wonky connection meant that I lost an entire personal entry – I had promised myself never to forget the goodness and grace of God in my life. I had promised myself to learn to let go and let God because there simply isn’t any other way to go toward joy and peace and a victorious life.
Since putting that entry together, James 1:17 keeps coming to mind:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I had prayed and committed my career and my life into God’s hands. I had trusted Him that whatever role and responsibility I was assigned next year, God would teach me to humbly receive and then to humbly give back. No matter how trying that seemed to be, I could trust that God would give me the courage and strength to accept in joy, the good and perfect gift from above.
This soup of unhappiness and discontent and angst that have been stirring in my heart is a concoction of disgruntle and bitterness. I had expected myself to be playing particular roles, to take on particular responsibilities, to be stretched and groomed in particular ways, and when the opposite of that happened, I became upset and found it hard to swallow. Especially when everyone else around me seemed to be happy with their lot. It is easy to be jealous of another’s lot, I realised.
But when I reconfigure my mind and look at my assigned duties and teaching classes as a privilege, a calling, a chance to learn how to serve… and last but not least, as a gift from God – I don’t think anyone can complain.
My soiled friendships may have cost me some opportunities, but I know that when resources are inadequate, God’s strength is made perfect and His resources are abundant. If there are other challenges that may pose problems along the way, I need to be prayerful and proactive in seeking out a new way.
My goal for next year, is to be 1) More proactive – in voicing out problems, suggestions, and making possible things happen. As well as, 2) Be nice. Say what builds up, not what tears down.
I need to trust that even if the workplace politics are cut-throat selfish and competitive, in His own time and way, God will make me.