01 January 2017
I am not very good with beginnings and transitions. And so tomorrow, the first working day of the year, frightens me. As a young boy, I disliked first days in school. I often got homesick, even if the school I went to was only ten minutes away from our house. The same boy reappears on every first day back to work after a long vacation. Waking up early, bearing the commute, tackling the mountainous heap of work from last year – it all seems daunting especially when you are still shaking off the holidays.
I often wish the work I am in required me to work during the holiday season rather than be granted an extended leave. Even if it were only for half days between Christmas and the New Year, I’d happily spend it in the office just so I do not lose motivation and momentum that is so often the case when you’re removed from a daily routine. Yes, I tried to be as productive at home during the Christmas break, but the thought of tasks left for the new year, and the inevitable additional work that will arise as soon as I arrive on my desk tomorrow really puts me out of rhythm.
Perhaps it’s also because of my job? It’s not the usual desk job I enjoyed when I was still a fresh graduate. Back then, I looked forward going back to work because, well, there wasn’t much to work on. I simply returned to the office to write, and writing was something, and is still something, I enjoy. My present job means a lot of “fixing” loose ends – troubleshooting, problem solving, managing both customers and managers, not to mention, managing oneself. It doesn’t help the customers can be quite nagging, and the managers are, well, not really good in their roles.
These professional concerns have not been overlooked in my spiritual direction and professional mentoring. In fact, they have often been the subject of my conversations with C, my spiritual director, and JD, my new mentor. C advised me to bear with my managers – yes, I have a number of supervisors – as patiently as I could, always serving with cheerfulness, always working with order, focus, and passion. JD, on the other hand, suggested I bring up employee management issues to the higher-ups rather than keeping quiet and simply “bearing” the troubles not out of charity but out of human respect which I often fall trap in. He knows I tend to say “yes” to my bosses because I mistake quantity of tasks as working with efficiency, and my failure to rise to their management style as incompetence on my part all the time.
What has always been agreed upon not just by my spiritual director, mentor, and myself, but by my parents and friends who know my troubles and anxieties, is that I am in a unique opportunity to really grow as a Christian even in what seems to be the most hostile professional environment. There are so many opportunities to really acquire and develop patience, and countless situations where I can learn to relinquish control and depend on God. For all my frustrations and fears, these people have never tired encouraging me. But they also know when to empathize, and can see objectively if, indeed, I am being overworked or if I am simply whining out of laziness. It’s good to have people like them telling me my professional role is God’s way of teaching me hard work, and instilling fortitude. Indeed, how many times have I been left with nothing else but my faith to get through and survive a stormy day at work.
Maybe this is my apostolate? Maybe this is my platform to holiness – to be that man who stands firm in his faith without eschewing professionalism; the man who becomes a bridge of unity when there is discord in the workplace; the man who remains a man when the going gets tough; the man who doesn’t flee from a problem but faces it courageously. But the responsibilities can be quite overwhelming. Sometimes I feel inadequate to carry out my role at work because it would mean going out of my comfort zone, and because it also presents so many occasions for failing. And when you’re busied by interior struggles, the external struggles appear like added crosses, the professional setbacks and pains like more pins to an already punctured heart.
But if I am to become a saint, I cannot allow my feelings to dominate my life. I cannot go back becoming that young boy in fifth grade who cries on the first day back at school. I can’t be homesick, not when people already depend on me to carry out my duties responsibly and yes, with great devotion. After all, if I want to offer my work to God for the sanctification of my soul, I cannot present to him something mediocre. I need to always give my all, my best, my whole being, applying to my work the same love and attention to detail I am sure Christ did as a carpenter in St. Joseph’s workshop.
If our Redeemer was dutiful in his hidden life as I am sure he was, than I cannot expect anything less from myself. I must struggle to work well, to remain patient and cheerful in the office, to develop spiritual fortitude internally and externally, to acquire Christian perfection through the secular role God has blessed me with to serve others and Him.
Wish me well, dearest H. Pray for me.