April 5, 2010

Which Way to Go

I know it's asking a lot. I know that. But I still want to ask... Could I pleeeease work with people who don't mock God at every opportunity?

Coworkers... you don't choose them. I know that. In fact, since I came in after them I suppose you could say I chose them.

I didn't, really. Honestly I didn't feel like I could turn down a job. We needed the money, I needed the productivity and mental break. And I did meet a couple of people - my boss, a sales manager or two, the girl I replaced - and they seemed ok. I mean, they're people you can work with no problem. They're professional enough, hardworking enough, nice enough. Most of them are conservatives... but that does not mean they are Christians. A good lesson to learn - these two traits do not necessarily go hand in hand.

But the fact remains most of them think God is a joke. And it's hard to a) listen to people mocking Someone I have so much faith in, and b) not act differently toward them when I know how they feel toward Him.

I was not always what you might call a committed Christian, but I can honestly say there was never a time in my life when I didn't believe in God, nor a time when I mocked Him. I feared Him, recoiled from Him, I questioned and was angry with Him, but I never thought it right to verbally (or even mentally) spit in His face. Maybe it was the fear that kept me from that? Then again, a healthy dose of fear of God is a very valuable thing! That very notion is what lent name to this blog.

I know that many people who read this blog are not in the outside-the-home workforce, so you don't exactly have coworkers. But I'm guessing you have neighbors, non-believing friends, family, etc. who fall into this spoken animosity toward God. What I'm wondering is, how do you cope with this? Is there anything to do?

In a workplace, determining "what to do" is a tricky thing. Part of me says (nay, screams), "Tell them off!" Furthermore, "Get them in trouble for being non-pc!" (Ha.) Another part says, "Don't say anything; their vitriol is their own. Let them suffer for this later." (I know that's an awful thing to think, but in the spirit of honestly I'm fully disclosing.) Another part of me is so, so sad that they are disconnected from Him that they perceive a right to discredit Him (attempt to, anyway), and feels like this is a real opportunity for witnessing.

Hmm... witnessing at work? I'm sure you've heard that people do this, but I dare you to give me a first-person account! It's very difficult to accomplish. The timing, circumstances, mood have to be just right. And even if you accomplish saying something resembling the Gospel to them, you run the risk of being punished (or even fired) if they report you to a higher-up. And trust me, when jobs are so scarce the threat of being fired for your faith is genuine and hard to simply wave away. I accept that we can and will suffer for our beliefs. Tell me though, is it responsible to put one's household finances in jeopardy to eke out a cliff notes Gospel to a hostile coworker?

The Bible says we are not to give the truth to one who is drunk; the inferred meaning is that there is a mindstate in which people are more likely to receive the Word. When someone is mocking Christ on the Cross (on Good Friday!), are they in a mindset that will do anything but scoff at the Message - and at me?

So, for the moment disregard the complicated issue of witnessing at work. What is one to do in order to thrive in an environment that is openly hostile to God, His power, His will, Christ's significance and obedience, God's righteousness and justice (hallelujah!)? To report or not to report... Should I take advantage of the PC-laden atmosphere to shield myself from this quite offensive talk? Or is it hypocritical of me to use that to my advantage when I decry it the rest of the time?

Any suggestions?


Estelle des Chevaliers said...

> pleeeease work with people who don't mock God at every opportunity?

I don't think it is god that they mock: how can you mock an entity that does not exist?

I suspect that they are mocking the person who is dumb and deluded enough to believe in an invisible friend in the sky.

Victoria said...

It's unfortunate that you missed my sincerity and went straight to an attack.

This, uncoincidentally, is exactly the type of thing I overhear all day: how simpleminded, superstitious and uneducated we Christians are!

Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Simple minded? No, not necessarily.
Uneducated? Certainly not.
Superstitious? Probably.
Deluded? Certainly.

Julee Ann said...

Eventually, around the water cooler, discussions will turn to someone's problem, dilemma, tough situation, broken relationships ...

"I'm praying for you [Estelle]." is hard to argue with.

Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Julie, please don't waste your prayers on me. Just send money.

Victoria said...

Estelle, you've made your point (I'm delusional).
I thought this was my forum to ask a question that I very (I thought) modestly posted about, trying to be charitable to the other side. I didn't call them names. I thought I'd get an equal type of response.
But I didn't.
Maybe you're right after all?

Bonjour Madame said...

It's hard to avoid that in the workplace, but I must say I have never really worked with people who very openly mocked God, other than the occasional curse using his name, I've never run into someone more overt at work. Maybe it's because I work for a company that has diversity committees so any mocking of any "group" would be frowned upon and it's been hammered into our heads to not say anything about another group and the groups are endless so you have to watch what you say constantly.

And maybe it's because of where I live but I don't know anyone personally who has verbally proclaimed they do not believe in God. My only exposure to atheists is from pundits on television when the topic is on a talk show. It's astonishing how hard they try to convince believers that there is nothing to believe in. If you do not have any belief that there is a God, why do you have to convince others that there is nothing to believe in? Why the urgency? Why the passion to convince others of nothingness?

I think the best you can do is live by example but let them know if they are offending you by their remarks. It is scary witnessing to people at work. It has taken me 17 years to approach the subject with one of my very best friends whom I happen to work with and it took the exact right moment and conversation we were having to do so. It was the perfect moment. It takes time, but they come.

Sorry to have written a novel here :)


Victoria said...

Stephanie, thank you for your novel :) You touched on some really important points.
Like you said, there is a right time to say something. I've only known these people 8 months. I have that sense of urgency, though, too, which puts this at the forefront of my mind. But, yes, patience is key.

I happen to live in a VERY liberal place. Kalamazoo was no different, and at least there we had reformed churches en mass! Here... it's anti-God (helped along by the university) or the watered-down version. You know, there's a perceived "cool" about not "falling victim" to the "delusions" of religion.

What unbelievers don't realize is that, it's not a prison - it's a release! We are free now.. We weren't before.. We were bound by our superficial understanding about the world and our place in it. Now there is truth, and a purpose (His purposes). I breathe a sigh of relief at knowing this. I think this is what motivates me to want to tell others... and I think that's the natural result.

Estelle des Chevaliers said...

>I think this is what motivates me to want to tell others...

You mean indoctrinate?
What right have you to do that?

Diogenes Sarcastica said...

Victoria, I'm in the secular music business so I know what you mean about senseless mocking of God (or belief of any kind). I hear it constantly. My situation differs from yours as I can sometimes drown it out rather than have to listen. But my heart does sympathize with you. As for witnessing, probably better left to after hours. As has already wisely been said, live a life of example....people will notice. That is sometime the greatest witness of all.

Burkulater said...

First, I think it's important to not take these things personally. As Christ hung on the cross, and while Stephen was being stoned, they asked God to forgive the people stoning them because they didn't know what they were doing.

Taming the tongue in the face of adversity is can be a hard task for someone who is so passionate, but we are called to do so for the sake of Christ and for the sake of showing Christ's love: all of which I'm sure you know. I think the point of your blog was more to reveal your frustrations and reach out for help. People sometimes do not change, but God has His plan in motion. We are servants.

Prayer most certainly is the answer. Ask God to help them in their unbelief.

Also, I know you know this but remember, we Christians are not simple-minded. Some of the most brilliant people in the history of the human race were Christians. Pascal comes to mind...but there are many, many, many others. Intellectual reasoning is behind the existence of God, but if hearts are hardened, not much belief will be done.

On a practical note, maybe keep a verse with you in your mind to strengthen you when you are frustrated.

Also, in his final sermon in his Doubt series, my Pastor talked about Acts 1 today. He highlighted Paul's trips to Berea, Thessolanica, and Athens. In Thessolanica, some people came to know Christ, in Athens, few, in Berea many. It's worthwhile to compare the differences between the people of each region and how these differences may have lead to belief/unbelief in Christ. I found it very interesting and applicable to my daily life.

Push through...it's all worth it, and God has you where you are for a reason. If God is with us, who can be against us?

Victoria said...

Mark, thank you for your comment. I do think it's best left to outside the workplace. I don't think I'd really witness here... it's just frustrating to hear things so offensive to ME, while more "acceptably offensive" comments (like, "that's so gay" or any kind of racial remark) are met with such rebuke by superiors. But I know, that's how it is now.. Thanks for sharing and your advice. I take it to heart.

Victoria said...

Burk, thank you also for your heartfelt comment. It's hard not to take it personally, or on His behalf, but you're right to suggest I have a verse at hand. People, though they are without excuse because they DO know God (in some way; the Bible says so), do not know what they're saying. Some of them are Catholics! But that's a whole dif't thread...

Prayer is the other answer. If I care and want them to know Him, which I do, I should be asking for God to call them out. "Taming the tongue" and "one should pray" seem to go hand in hand. You know I suffer from the overly-passionate spirit! But passion for Him does not mean in spirited language, I get that. Or, I'm getting it. :)

Thanks for the time you spent responding to this. It helps me to be reminded of my Family here in blogland!

Victoria said...

Ah, Estelle... "indoctrinating" is forcing them to believe what I do. I am under no illusion that I can do that. But, just as I'm not censoring your comments on my blog, no one can censor me from sharing my beliefs. Sorry, not even you.


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