Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Of My Own Volition

For anyone who knows my testimony, the BIG turning point for me in understanding Christ's place in my life occurred when I found out that I no longer lived by law, but rather grace. I had grown up a bit misguided in my faith due to the teachings of my grandma believing that every act of "devotion" to God was being kept on some huge Star Chart in Heaven, and likewise, everything I did wrong was being recorded as well. I lived in constant fear that if I didn't read my Bible at night, actually enjoy the Bible Trivia game Grandma wanted to play with us (that I did horrible on without the help of Sunday schools growing up), or confess any known sins, were I to be hit by a bus, I would end up in Hell. As a result, when the "dawn of understanding" came the day after a very special retreat, it was an awakening for sure. The idea that my acts for God were coming from love and not duty was HUGE - and all of a sudden, I wanted to do all those things - read my Bible, learn about God, serve Him, sing to Him, pray to Him - it all changes when you recognize the right motivation.

That has been a recurring theme for me over the years. I find that if something is my idea, I am much more apt to give it all my heart and follow through no matter how long or hard the course. But, the minute that it is somebody else's idea for me (i.e. - being paid to do it vs. volunteering, trying to meet "higher than you'd rather go" expectations of others, or just plain old "do this" orders), my attitude can take a real nosedive.

I think God is working on this with me. Perhaps He's saying, "Even if it is coming out of someone else's mouth, it is still MY request for you, will you please consider doing it on my behalf...." - and I'm not really listening. Instead, lately, I've just been getting really ticked. Ask Lisa, there has been a LOT of grumbling on my behalf lately because I've really been feeling used by people to accomplish THEIR tasks without regard for whether or not I'm on board with it.

The latest of these examples occurred yesterday when I received a letter in the mail telling me I had 48 hours to round up 11 volunteers for Brayden's school carnival. It was supposedly my job because I am the "room parent". But, I NEVER VOLUNTEERED TO BE ROOM PARENT! Way back when, in October, I got a similar email TELLING me I was room parent and what I needed to have done for the Harvest Party. That didn't sit well either, but I grumbled my way through the task. Yesterday, I was livid. I have to give a bit of back-story and say that my relationship with Brayden's school isn't super. I have loved his teachers and really like what I'm seeing out of the 2nd grade curriculum, but I have very little respect for the principal or the way things have been run by the PTC. So, I suppose, I already had a chip on my shoulder going into this thing.

I sent an email back yesterday to the woman who "assigned" me as room parent. I questioned how that was determined and tried to firmly but politely indicate the principals I have above described. However, this morning, I woke up feeling guilty and hopefully softened things a bit with another short emal indicating that I felt like I had been too harsh, I appreciate much work needs to be done, and for the record, I appreciate all of the effort she has put in..... I think that must have been the Holy Spirit working.

As for those 11 volunteers, I spent over an hour last night calling every family in Brayden's class to see if they could help. I only filled half the slots and I guess that will just have to do. The carnival is the night of our anniversary and we'll be heading out of town for the weekend to the coast. I wonder if I'll get fired because I didn't get my job done right, one can only hope.....


Anonymous said...

Steph, I am so with-you on this post. Anyone who knows me at all has figured out that any advice or direction, no matter how wise, will be met with an angry face and a brick wall from my side...I tell them, you have to let me go and think about it on my own for a day or two, and I often come around...but that initial feeling I get is pretty ugly. I have really been hit lately by all the people at church and on radio who say, God speaks to you through: His Word, His Spirit, and Others (both Christian and non-Christian). That last one is hard to accept but I've seen it happen many times, and like you I'm struggling to beat back my own pride enough to take some constructive criticism.

That said...I would have been angry about the round-up orders, too! You may have felt bad for the strong words you emailed, but speaking up (in a loving way) is much better in my opinion than becoming a bitter martyr (which I tend to do). If it happens NEXT year, you will politely decline the appointment immediately, right?

It's so awesome that you are using this as a growth opportunity (Yeah, "growing" can be a pretty sucky and humbling exercise, though).

Anonymous said...

P.S. This idea of going along with projects and activities that are not my desire, or maybe even totally against my morals, has made my life interesting as a full time employee...I especially hate making unpleasant phone calls that my bosses pawn off on me and have a pretty rotten attitude some days.

I remember being at a women's bible study when one of the leaders talked about working at a local bookstore and being assigned to clean the bathrooms. She was furious that she should have to do that; but finally realized God was showing her what it took to have a servant's heart and to do ALL work as unto the Lord...a lesson I'd like to fully embrace one day.

StephieAnne said...

Thanks for the great encouragement, Heather. And, yes, next year I will not be making it an option to volunteer at all at Gilham. I'll talk to Brayden's teacher one on one and see what he/she needs, but that will be it. Mikayla will be spending her kindergarten year at the pre-school/kindergarten they've been going to at the little church and I will be very happy to volunteer there as it will be my final year working with that school.

That being said, you should have read the letter that I sent to Brayden's principal. I left it annonymous for a reason (I emphasized in the letter why) and I spelled out a whole lot I felt was lacking in the atmosphere of the school..... I think we all just hope she quits, but I feel better knowing I at least did something (which is not usually my protocol - generally I just grouse and moan a lot to other people!)

In the big picture, though, I know I have a lot to learn about "worship through serving" - I don't think I've passed this latest test, so I'm sure they'll be more opportunities to practice on their way!