I just adore this wonderful friend. She’s everything I want to be, and handles life with such grace. And she’s so darn cute she’s just squeezable. I have nothing further to add, so I’ll let her get right to it. Please meet my friend Mary,
The Art of My Current Circumstance
“Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.” (Malcom Muggeridge)
A far more cliché way of saying this is, “everything happens for a reason”. Personally, this quote resonates with me. I find myself seeking meaning in the events of my life, especially when times get tough. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but think that there is an author of my life up there who doesn’t just let things happen randomly. Call it a desire for meaning, conspiracy, narcissism, fate, whatever. But I really think that there is a story behind what goes on in my day to day life. There’s a reason for it. It’s a parable if you will, intended to teach me something good should I take the time to reflect on it. Figuring out the meaning is what Muggeridge calls the “art of life”. So here’s my attempt at analyzing the art of my current circumstance.
Lately, I have been feeling under-appreciated at work. I think I’m not alone. I think many of us struggle with feeling under-appreciated when we are working harder than others around us and nobody seems to notice. There’s no public recognition, many of our friends don’t know what we do day in and day out, and sometimes even our own families or spouses are unaware the long days we’ve had.
Being over-worked never feels great, but I found myself becoming increasingly obsessed about being under-appreciated for being over-worked. I got to thinking, is this really worth it? Why am I doing all this? Because of the responsibilities I have, there’s only so much I can do about the workload, but as far as being resentful for a lack of recognition, I realized that I was struggling with a different animal. And so the parable unfolds.
If you are wired like me and have a need to be recognized for your work, you might be struggling with what 1 John 2:16 calls the “boastful pride of life”. I’m not wired to be naturally humble. At the core, none of us are, but some people are better at it than others. When it came down to it, I wanted someone to puff up my ego to make all this work I was doing “worth” it somehow if I could just think so highly of myself and have others agree with me. Anyway, with the way my attitude was situated, there was no type of recognition that would not corrupt me more and put me in a worst state then I already was. I realized that recognition was actually the last thing I needed.
Viktor E. Frankl said, “Don’t aim at success. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” Somewhere along the way, my motive stopped being for a cause greater than myself and in fact became for myself. The truth is, without Christ, this always happens. By nature, we are a depraved people. We can’t help but mix our good intentions for a greater cause with our own selfish nature to make ourselves great. The best anecdote I’ve found so far is in Scripture. Colossians 3:23-24 advises:
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
Though serving my students and my colleagues at work was certainly a noble cause, a cause greater than myself, it still got old after a while. Sometimes, you truly do something without expecting a return, but are still disappointed when you don’t seem to get one. On the other hand, serving the Lord is a motivator that I don’t need to worry about expecting a return because I’ve already had an advance return and am promised even more though I don’t deserve that. To Jesus Christ I owe all my life, all my gratitude, all my worth for on that cross, my burdens gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away the very sin that plagues my every good intention.
The parable of my life currently is that there is a reason that my works are going unrecognized. The Lord is not overlooking what I am doing, but rather allowing me to go under the radar. The best medicine for me is not appreciation and acknowledgement, but a lack of it that I might serve Him with a pure and simple motive. This is, knowing that the Lord, who is unseen yet true, sees me.
See? Isn’t she fantastic?? I love the godly women God has put in my life to remind me of what’s important.