By Jennifer Frankenberg
In 2014, I was hired into my dream job. I didn’t know it was my dream job at first, but as time passed, I realized it was the perfect fit for me. I loved the excitement, the challenges, and the opportunities afforded me. But a few months ago, I was actually considering quitting. I didn’t have another specific job or employer in mind, but I knew I was unhappy. I grumbled to my family and friends and circulated my resume.
My feelings did not stem from one particular thing, but an accumulation of perceived slights—small incidents that when added together made me question if I was experiencing gender bias. At first, I discounted each event–perhaps it was just me blowing things out of proportion. Then I began to add them up. I started analyzing every situation, considering every word spoken to me, evaluating all my interactions with workmates. Going to work became stressful and discouraging.
I hesitated to bring any of these things up to senior management until I was sure I was seeing a pattern. I told no one, except my husband and a few friends. During all of these conversations, the idea of praying over the situation never came up. Eventually, my frustration and anger boiled over and our senior management team became aware of it. I was called into a meeting and confronted directly by HR and a member of the senior management team to explain the situation.
During that meeting, I laid down a laundry list of incidents with indignant rage. But as the conversations unfolded, my indignation turned to embarrassment when I realized that I was the one that had not handled the conflict well. There was understanding on the part of the management team as to my feelings, and some situations required follow-up to resolve. However, they were also concerned that I had not stepped forward early on, instead of looking for a pattern.
I needed to take responsibility for not letting them know what I was experiencing and feeling, rather than letting my emotions fester. By approaching each concern with a cool mind and rational consideration, the situations could have been addressed individually and the conflict minimized. If I had prayed and listened to God’s advice, I believe I would have approached the situation differently. Rather than keeping tally of all the perceived offenses against me, I could have been open without being confrontational.
It’s not easy to discuss touchy subjects without letting our emotions take charge, especially in a society where opinions tend to be seen as fact and people have become polarized. Wherever we look we see a lot of anger being expressed, breaking down the fabric of our society and at times, our Christianity.
We need to understand that each of us sees the world through our own prism and that open discussion, love, and forgiveness can quickly defuse emotional situations. The Lord gives us guidance all the time, if we take the time to listen. He desires us to remain open with one another— understanding of each other’s point of views—even if the messages make us uncomfortable.