Updated: May 16, 2019
I have a confession to make. While I have been a dedicated employee, appreciated God-given opportunities and been thankful of provision, since my first day in the workforce, I have pouted. A small secret part of my attitude was like a whiny toddler who wasn’t getting their way. I didn’t want to work. I’m not lazy; I just wanted to be a wife and mother. I wanted to be taken care of by my husband the same way my father has taken care of my mother.
So from the very first day that I walked down the long, daunting halls of the FBI federal building, I was determined to find a way to not have to work outside the home. But the Lord had other plans, and while I didn’t know it at the time, there were lessons I needed to learn. Now I see how each job was a stepping-stone to the next lesson.
While I grumbled and complained about being on my feet in the midst of thousands of file cabinets, those years spent reviewing FBI files taught me how to make informed decisions. I learned to take presented facts and determine if the information was relevant. If the answer wasn’t clear, I learned how to use resources to form my conclusion.
When I took a job with a tobacco lobby, I witnessed first-hand powerful lobbyists attempting to sway the government. I never knew on a given day if I would be taken away from my workstation and sent to the Hill to attend a congressional hearing – to literally take up seats from anti-tobacco supporters. I learned a good paycheck isn’t worth a compromise in values. I needed to determine, and then hold fast to, my ideals.
While I wasn’t active duty military, the years I spent supporting the Navy were years of learning process and protocol. I learned to communicate and resolve conflict. I learned how to respect others, even if I disagree with them.
My most rewarding years were those when I was the executive assistant to the commanding officer(s). These leaders became great mentors to me and they gave me wings to fly. They entrusted me with responsibilities far beyond my job description. I watched them interact with superiors and subordinates, with professionalism, respect and kindness. I learned the greatest leaders lead by example.
After several years, I was promoted to an analyst position. Thrust into the world of policy and procedure, I honed my technical writing skills and thrived in the environment. Yet, I also learned a very tough lesson: I spent several hours on the witness stand as a prosecution witness during a violation of ethics trial. To quote Edmund Burke, I learned “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I made the commitment to speak-up if I ever witnessed wrongdoing.
My most challenging and difficult years have been since I left federal service and became a contractor. I have learned that often, no matter how much I beg and plead, the Lord won’t always remove me from difficulties, but He will walk with me through them. He won’t always change the situation; His desire is to change me. He did; about six months ago, I finally surrendered the secret childish attitude.
Then, recently, the Lord closed a door for a hopeful job opportunity. Almost immediately, He opened another door; one I didn’t see coming…but one that excites me. After almost 38 years, this is my last week working fulltime. By choice, I am converting to a reduced workweek.
As I reflect back on the many years of my fulltime career, I have learned the Lord is trustworthy, in all things and in all ways. I am keenly aware that He alone is my provision. He will work all things out for my good. And, thankfully, His ways are not my ways; I can’t begin to imagine all the blessings I would have missed if I had had my way.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9