21 November 2023

Kindness Never Fails

Earlier this year, I taught my 5- and 6-year-olds in Sunday School about loving our enemies. It seems I need that lesson from time to time, too.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you..."

Matthew 5:43-44 has been on my mind a lot lately. I think I've shared here before I sometimes get grief from co-workers who have been asked to return to the office full time. Working from home four days a week enables me to care for my husband, but it also creates jealousy from others who wish they could work from home most of the time and who don't think it's fair that I'm being granted "special privileges".

My standard response to confrontation in the office (and yes, there have unfortunately been many quagmires the last two years) has been trying to hide my tears as I explain I would work 20 hours per day and 80 hours per week if I could have my husband back the way he was.

Deep down inside, I'd wonder if they'd feel the same way if someone they loved was saddled with a diagnosis that stole away everything their loved one cherished.

At some point last summer, I realized, unlike the progression of a life-changing diagnosis, my reaction is something I CAN control. I can be a better example, and I can use these difficult moments as teaching opportunities.

I decided instead of trying to justify the kindness my bosses are extending to me, I should sparkle with gratitude. I'm still not proficient, but my rehearsed response now is, "I am so grateful I get to be the one to take care of my husband. I'm so glad I get to spend time with him while he still recognizes me and is still able to do tiny bursts of the things we used to do. I am so grateful I am still able to take care of him by myself."

My change in attitude seemed to help and seemed to make a difference, at least with some co-workers. It made life so much more pleasant for me. I could deal with my own stresses and trauma without being thrown beneath the bus by people who should be my team members at work.

Last week, a true team member warned me about a co-worker I thought had accepted my plight and was no longer bitter and resentful. I was advised to be careful what I say to that person, or others whom I don't know well, because things were being taken out of context and used against me behind my back.

The tears made another waterfall appearance, and for two nights, I had more trouble than normal sleeping because of things said about me that got back to me.

Finally, I thought about that scripture again. Pray for those who treat you badly. People who go around making trouble for others are not happy people. Unhappy people need blessings as much as those of us who are doing our best to get through each day. People who spend nearly all their energy trying to bring others down must be missing something in their own life, or they wouldn't have time for such discord.

That night, I prayed for the 20-year co-worker who trashed me. My longtime friend with a diagnosis of their own; one of the six people I listed on my "Reasons I Ride" bib back in the day of our annual MS-150 rides.

Praying for my co-worker helped me remember this friend is fighting a battle of their own, that they have as many bad days vs. good days as us, that going into the office four days a week probably is just as much a struggle for them as even working from home is for me.

It helped me remember the friendship we once shared. It helped me remember the times when we used to help each other at work. It helped me remember I do not hate this person. I do not wish this person ill. It helped me remember I once had empathy for this person, and it helped me realize I can have it again.

This week, it was easier to be cordial to this person, and it was easier to pretend as if nothing had happened. There may still be things said about me behind my back, but I can still make the best of this and try to do my part in keeping the peace and showing compassion. It seems my prayer for my co-worker may have blessed me as much as it may have blessed my friend.

1 comment :

Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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