When I went to work at Frederick Memorial Hospital in 1990, I wasn’t especially happy to be there, but our family needed the income and benefits the job would provide. There were five of us in the Purchasing office — two buyers, two clerical people and our director. One of the clerks was angry that she wasn’t promoted into the buying position I got, and the other buyer was threatened by the fact that I had a college degree and she didn’t. The atmosphere was, to say the least, not very warm. In addition, there was a lot of bad language, off color jokes and sexual innuendoes. I was miserable and wondered how I would ever stand to work there. However, as a stubborn German type, I figured I could tough it out and would last longer than those who didn’t like me, especially the young woman who wanted my job. I’ll call her “Amy.” As a Christian, I prayed, but my prayers were more along the lines of “deliver me from evil” than “make me your instrument.” I was working with some difficult people, but my attitude wasn’t all it should have been either.
Several months into the job I attended a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend and that helped me change my focus. Every morning I sat in my car for a while before work, reading my Bible and praying. I even prayed for Amy. My heart softened towards her as I realized her life wasn’t very happy. Her life was filled with possessions that were important to her, but lacking in love and stability. She was angry and took her anger out on others around her — she wasn’t singling me out. I stopped taking her behavior personally, and found it didn’t bother me as much. I tried to be friendly and invited Amy and her little daughter to some church events. She didn’t come, but shared that another coworker she seemed to like and admire, had also invited her to church. I encouraged her to give it a try, and I wish that I could say that Amy became a Christian, but I don’t know. She left our office soon afterwards. Our conversations may have had an influence on her life, and I continued to pray that God would send someone into Amy’s life who would show her where true happiness lies.
In the meantime, there were other changes. I’m not a gifted evangelist, but I had ways to let others know I was Christian. I talked about church, had a Christian calendar on my bulletin board, and often wore a cross. These things were noticed. People began to ask me questions–everything from “what is Shrove Tuesday?” to “what does your church believe about life after death?” Most of my coworkers had some sort of church background or attachment, and as I talked about my faith, they began to share, too. Then one day our director told me he was going to bring up the language being used in the office at a staff meeting, and would I support him in asking that we clean up our act. Although I hadn’t complained, I guess just not joining in made an impact.
To be continued…..