Let’s be honest, we’ve all had days where work makes us angry. Thanks to Chris Dortch for being honest about it for the Finding God at Work series.
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Blasted crape myrtles. I know most people wouldn’t describe them so, but their pretty, pink posies fall in droves, faster than my net can skim them off the water. I know I should enjoy the hot sun on my back, the cool breeze fighting back against the warmth, and the freedom for my mind to wander—from Aslan’s bright shore beyond the Great Sea all the way to the bloody streets of Victor Hugo’s French Revolution, from the emeralds of Oz to the dark stage haunted by the Phantom.
The strong smell of chlorine wrenches me from the worlds whispered into my ears, and I have to step back before the fumes overpower me. I really should pay more attention to my job. This daydreaming landed me in the pool last summer. I pull out my headphones and focus on the plague of pink that has now consumed the pool. How is this even possible? There are more flowers now than when I got here half an hour ago!
From bad to worse
I take a deep breath, and four more steps back as the chlorine wafts over me again. I decide to tackle the sickly green algae coating the sides of the pool and pray the wind dies down soon. I hate leaving a pool looking less clean than when I arrive, but the weather has other ideas today. I start thinking through the rest of my day: the five other pools I need to stop at before I can go home, and how dirty they must be, along with all of the homework waiting for me, the laundry piling up, the bills to pay…
A loud splash and a sharp pain in my toe yank me out of my head and back to the edge of the pool. I watch the rock I kicked dive to the bottom of the pool and see blood seeping out of my foot. I quickly splash water on the deck so the blood doesn’t stain it and hobble back to my car for a bandage.
As I put pressure on the gash, I start pitying myself into a state of indignation. Why does today have to be so hard? Why is nature against me? A bird chirping nearby just makes me angrier as I consider how easy its life sounds—hardly a care in the world, able to sing and fly free of responsibility. But then a thought interrupts my anger.
The story I can’t turn off
I enjoy God through stories; this is why I listen to audiobooks while I work. I can set my mind loose and seek God in a different world. There, I know I can find him shining through Aslan or glimmering through the selfless love of Jean Valjean. However, while I sit trying to ignore the pain in my toe it strikes me that despite how easily I can find God in a book, I neglect seeking him in another story—the only story that I can’t turn off.
The continual drone of work isn’t the problem, it isn’t what keeps me from seeking God. That problem lies within me. I’ve learned how to hear him calling to me through the stories I love, but he also calls to me through the story all around me, in the constant, and sometimes aggravating, work of setting the world aright, of curating nature, and of skimming another blanket of blasted crape myrtle flowers out of the pool.
Chris Dortch is a PhD student at Dallas Theological Seminary, where writing is mandatory. Every now and then, he writes for fun and friends, and here is the product.