Monday, October 15, 2012

Unexpected danger

Cat attack!
We got ambushed this morning. The dogs and I were walking along like usual when a cat ran across the road in front of us. Ziggy, who loves to trot behind me, is the heavier dog. He keeps Missy, who loves to run and roam, in line beside me. Zig kept Miss Missy from running after the cat, who disappeared ahead.

Except that -- oh ferocious feline -- pouncing -- hissing -- scratching -- THAT CAT jumped out from a fence and attacked my dogs!

Having had a cat, I automatically hissed and pulled the dogs away. The cat retracted the claws she'd caught in Ziggy's raincoat and stalked off, sitting in moody defiance by the roadside as we walked away.

First, I found some red leaves and
a hydrangea someone had tossed
I laughed to myself as we made our escape. Lucky us -- she could have put out an eye, torn up my beasties, and inflicted damage. A cat. Attacking dogs. Two dogs. On a leash with a person.

Who knew? It was a more dangerous morning than I'd suspected and we'd gotten away Scott-free. I celebrated by gathering a gorgeous bouquet of leaves and flowers from the sidewalk.

Sitting at my desk, I'm thinking about a job I had once. My manager would call me into her office and I'd skip down the hall, expecting kudos for a job well done. Almost without exception, I'd get slammed. "That was too small. Too big. Not enough. Too much. What were you thinking? Were you thinking at all?"

I'd leave her office, shaking my head, wincing at the unexpected blow. I'd go back to my desk and think about my lucky escape. I hadn't died. Hadn't been severely wounded even. I'd try harder, look around more carefully, and do my best.

Then I gathered wind-tossed needles, a mossy branch,
and three heads of clover
Eventually, the scratching penetrated my skin. I began to muddle, to second-guess my decisions, to retreat instead of advancing.

I've pondered those interactions. Here are a few things I learned about being a misfit:
  1. Danger lurks in unexpected places. Even if you're walking along, doing the work assigned, surprises can jump you. 
  2. Blows from a friend can be trusted. Hits from someone defending or defining their turf should be avoided whenever possible.
  3. There's a time to stand. When my manager first started attacking, I went back to my office, rethought my ideas, and presented a better proposal.
  4. There's a time to hiss back and shake off the attack. After a few unpleasant interactions, I returned to my desk, worked my hardest, and just ignored the lack of helpful input.
  5. There's a time to walk away. When my strengths shriveled into defense mode, I quit. I shouted for joy the first morning I didn't have to go into the bunker. I gloriously changed my employment to something where God' gifts and calling reemerged and I could do good work. I bet my manager was as delighted as I.
  6. It's important to reflect after a major change. Consider what God is doing in you, what he's teaching you, and how he's disciplining you by failure as well as success. Did you sin? Did you work from weakness rather than strength? Did you cooperate or resist good counsel? 
  7. Don't move on without admitting your part in attracting danger. I've considered the weaknesses and flaws in myself that brought out aggression and frustration in my manager. And I've avoided such negativity and similar miss-fits for how God made me: I realized that I work best in a freewheeling, interactive environment where ideas and possibilities are welcomed and encouraged. If you feel thwarted and are frustrating others where you work, would YOU be a better partner elsewhere?
  8. Know yourself and your strengths. Find complementary partners. I'm an activator, an idea person, and a resource magnet. My many weaknesses include maintenance and accounting. In fact, the "fiddling details" that go on and on or going round and round during execution of ideas saps my energy. While my guess-timates usually hit close to the bulls-eye, balancing accounts to the penny drives me wild. However, shifting colors, possibilities, and new connections feel concrete, energetic, and hopeful. 
Currently, I seek out partners who revel in management, who love to work out details, and trek along happily toward a goal. I may plan a fundraiser, but he asks for funding. I may design the table and bring the resources, but she tugs the tablecloth into perfect folds. I may find the cheapest U-haul and arrange pickup, but he drives the truck from A to B. I may write copy, but she edits the commas and semi-colons. Meanwhile, we're both ecstatic at doing our job well, working in our strengths rather than weaknesses.
The final bouquet: beauty on my desk

If God is pleased with us and he's our boss, we're happily using our talents, education, and previous experience to do His good work. How about you?

Read more:
*"Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has raised his fist against me. … Don't call me Naomi," she responded. "Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?" Ruth 1:13, 20–21

*He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication. Micah 7:9

*Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14

Moravian Prayer: Light of the world, when we sit mired in darkness or distress, come again to us. Come to our aid, grant us your grace anew and be our morning star, our cheering sight! Amen.

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