From my previous post Jobs Not For Me I, it was clear that I should not be in workplaces that involve a lot of social contact especially with those who I see need help but that I am unable to help. However, it has been only recently after writing about these things, that I understand how I was affected in so many ways. During these places of employment I was also going through serious personal struggles, such as divorce, financial problems, health problems and ethical problems. I seriously struggled with my understanding of what being a Christian meant and applying that to my work life. I had fully transitioned into what I thought a Christian lifestyle was by the time I was working in this other place of employment. I had a lot of guilt and misunderstandings about all of it. I have intertwined my faith and work here somewhat to give a little clarity of what I was thinking during that time because I had a lot of inner struggle with the next job that I will talk about.
I was a human resource specialist for a temporary agency.
My job consisted of interviewing, hiring and trying to locate new positions for labor and clerical work. Once again in this position I felt something was wrong but I did not know what it was. I thought that it would be a good thing to help try to get people placed into positions who were unable to get work. The problem was, the owner of the company was doing things that did not seem right and during that time many of the the people who were looking for work were in similar life situations as those who use check cashing/payday loan stores. They have had hard lives, many of them want to do well but have a hard time doing it. There were many illegals that came through and were quickly pushed through with fake social security cards. I was unaware until I started noticing how blatantly bad some of them were. I brought them to my supervisors attention and she said if they don’t look too bad take them. I did not do that.
We filled factories with many people who could not speak English.
They lived in one and two bedroom apartments with 10 sometimes more people. They felt privileged to be working in dangerous atmospheres for $5.25 an hour. I got to know these people, some of them took advantage of me and some did not. I wanted so much to help everyone. I felt that having to work there was a short-term thing and that soon I would be led into my true calling, church ministry. I looked at work as a ministry opportunity also but it was not a long-term thing. My heart was set on ministry and I was heavily involved with my church. It was one of the good churches I have been in. With the ethical issues, the constant people coming in and out, interviewing, talking, having to make phone calls, the different types of people, I began to get sick. I regularly had sinus issues but I ended up getting a virus that lasted for over two months. I was also going through a separation waiting on my ex-husband to file the papers that he said he was going to do. I was also in serious financial trouble because he left me with mounds of debt, I will write about another time.
Both this job and the payday loan job were similar in many ways.
There was an aspect of being in danger that I felt but did not understand until later. One day however, I realized just how dangerous it was with this job sometimes. We had another office in a little town about 30 miles away, one day a week I was to go there and do interviews. The office was in a building that had other offices but no one got there until later in the afternoon. I was there by 7am ready to open the doors at 8am. There were times that I was in the office alone and would have several guys in the office as well, filling out paperwork and waiting for interviews. Many of them, in that area, had been in prison or had problems with drugs or alcohol at one point, possibly still but they were all required to have drug testing so we could know if they were eligible for hire. Many of them tested positive for drugs, which meant that they were possibly under the influence while in the office with me. This would explain some of the strange behaviors I noticed. Also things I felt or saw but could not explain.
This particular day, the office was empty and there was a guy standing outside the door, waiting.
I had a bad feeling the moment I saw him but I had to let him in. I gave him the paper work and asked him to fill it out. I was very uncomfortable and saw a swirly blackness around him, I also had a sick feeling in my stomach. I shut my office door and locked it and prayed for another person to come in for an interview. They never did and I had to proceed with the interview. I was also struggling, like I have so many times before, with feeling like I was wrongly judging the man. What if he was a nice guy and I was just being evil in my thoughts? I understand now that I had misinterpreted Christian teachings, though some people use them to manipulate like that, this was my own wrong interpretation. The whole interview was very uncomfortable and I just knew I had to get him out as quickly as possible. I did not follow procedure and after the interview part I just said we would call him if he was eligible. He then started to get a bit aggressive and insisted that we had to give him a job. I told him that I would look through his paperwork and we would call him for drug testing if it were to work out. He would not leave and continued to go into a rant about how we had to give him a job but that we would probably not since he had a felony.
I then said that I could call my supervisor and see what she said while he was still there.
As I tried to explain to her what was going on, she could hear him in the background being loud. She finally told me to tell him that we could not hire anyone who had a felony due to our insurance policy. This was actually not true but I didn’t know that at the time. I told him, he was very upset, I stayed on the phone with her until he finally left. When he left the office she told me to look and see if he wrote down what he had done. He had and it was for rape, he had been in for 10 years. She told me to quickly pack up and get out of there and come back to the office.
Again, things began to connect for me about the job just like with the other one.
I started to understand the kind of potential dangers I was in. I started to understand about the people who were suffering and working hard to make ends meet. I was starting to understand that there were people who were taking advantage of people like me, though I could not differentiate between them. It made it even harder because my employer was taking advantage of me, my supervisor and the temps and the temps were also taking advantage of me and the employer. It was too much for me to understand.
By this time, with this job I had lost so much weight I was down to 100 pounds again.
Unlike before in my life, this was not self-induced weight loss. I am 5’4 and that is just not a healthy weight for me to be at. I became very sickly and I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. The only thing I found comfort in was my church. To this day it is the best church I have ever been in. They supported me during my divorce. They encouraged me to get into leadership. They developed me in my prayer life and challenged me in my faith by reading books from people of different faiths and beliefs. They encouraged loving people right where they were at and most of all they did a lot of hands on ministries. We would work with the many different ministries throughout the city and offer help. They were very unity focused and did not see any reason to start a ministry if there was one already in progress no matter the faith or no faith, we would help them help others and be actively involved in our community.
I was at church and serving as much as possible.
I found that this too was too much for me emotionally. I wanted to serve and help anywhere and everywhere. I spread myself thin and was basically working two full-time jobs with my regular job and with serving at the church. Both involved a lot of social activities and both caused me to stay very sick. I was overwhelmed and slept or had meltdowns all the time at home. I will be writing about my church experience in the next few months because I feel that I am able to without any anger or hurt now, this church that I talk about now, was the hope that helped me not give up on all churches. I know from their example that there are good churches out there and good people.
But back to the jobs.
What I discovered from both of these jobs was that I am not capable of working in places like that. Someone like myself cannot handle the stress and pain of watching people suffer, go in cycles and not change, the unknowing of who is taking advantage of me and who is not and the inability to do anything about the injustice of it all. Talking to people who are unable to buy diapers, food or have heat in the winter is devastating for me. Especially when I too was in such financial burdens that I could barely help myself. I wanted to help I tried to help and on many occasions I got burned for it. There were a few who were able to receive help and be able to get in better places in life. I hope that they are still doing well. I am thankful about that but I cannot work in environments that use so many different social situations. Too many for me to understand. I would sometimes be overwhelmed with emotion and didn’t understand what I was feeling.
I then had to protect myself.
I started to get a hard heart because I couldn’t take it. I shut down emotionally and the people became objects and I began to trust no one. There was a major problem with this because even though I shut down, I still felt it since I was engulfed in it. Since I was going to church I was constantly reminded that my faith revolves around loving and caring for those in need. It was very hard but I have now come to understand that I was not bad for trying to protect myself. I was taken advantage of so I should protect myself. I also understand that my longing to help others can be better used in different ways. Healthier ways for me. We each have gifting and they should be used in their proper place. I am not gifted to work in these environments because they will eventually kill me. Suck me dry and leave me empty.
I am thankful for all of the good things that came from those work places.
I learned a lot about people, unfortunately I still get sucked in by certain types of people sometimes. I have to stay on guard but I have grown in that area. My church experience has opened my eyes in a lot of ways also. All of these experiences that I have gone through have actually helped me to understand that the world is a lot different from what I thought it was. Now that I have been gaining an understanding about how my brain works and that I am not at fault for how other people behave, I see all of these situations in my life as learning tools. This information can help my kids when they get older or help someone else right now. I felt stupid and ridiculous when I realized that I had been taken advantage of. I felt confused because I didn’t understand how to incorporate my faith into my life without sacrificing my sanity and health. I would bypass my gut feelings because I felt that I had to be wrong, Jesus would never think that way about a person, so I shouldn’t. I couldn’t understand why everyone else could get it and I couldn’t. I see now that I was not wrong for wanting to protect myself and I wasn’t wrong with my “gut” feelings.
I am just not capable of working in those kinds of environments and I am not a bad person for that. FREEDOM!