Friday, April 20, 2007

Testimony: Integrity

I've been aware of an uncomfortable feeling of late, not a fully realized discomfort, just a vague dis-ease. This morning I stayed in bed for a while praying and thinking about it and what I've come to understand is that I've been feeling that I've misrepresented myself of late. It's not that I've been lying to people or deceiving others or acting in a way that is false, so it's not really a misrepresentation of myself. What I think is that I have been representing only myself. Yes, that's it. I have been speaking for myself, from my experience. What's been missing, what is causing this unease, is that I have not been aware of God and how I represent God. I've been speaking from my ego rather than from my center-which is filled with God (always, whether I am aware of it, or not).

I am so dreading this upcoming work project. I've found myself thinking absolutely absurd things like "maybe if I break my leg I can get out of doing this gig" which I don't really want to have happen. I believe in the purpose of the work I do-I wouldn't do it if I didn't. I think social research is valuable to individuals, groups within our society, and society as a whole. The company I work for is the most respected social research organization in the world. The work I do is important and I'm good at it. But there is a great deal of pressure to perform in this job: We have quotas we have to fill and there is a lot of negativity and rejection (and dog bites, having the cops called and being cussed out) from the individual cases. It's a high stress job for me. Yes, I'm an extrovert. Yes, I like meeting people. Yes, I meet some really interesting people and learn fascinating things about them. But still, it's really high stress.

Monday evening we discussed the Pendle Hill pamphlet by Wilmer Cooper, The Testimony of Integrity in the Religious Society of Friends, in our Quakerism class. As we discussed using honorifics, I began thinking about my job and how I use "sir" and "ma'am" with people and how false I feel when I do. When doing projects in the past I've sorta kept my beliefs separate from my work. Not that I lie to any of my respondents or misrepresent the work or myself; I would not do that for any job. It's more that I am so afraid of loosing a respondent that I see each as a goal rather than as a person. I often speak falsely to respondents simply because I speak from my fragile, fearful ego rather than my Christ-filled center.

I started looking for a job last October. I sent my resume to bunches of prospective jobs. I was interviewed a couple of times but never got a second call. I have never had a hard time of finding a job in all my years of working. I know that I had some pretty rigid criteria for when I was able to work but even with that, it seemed harder than it should have been. In the past I'd always felt like God put me where I needed to be. This time I felt like I was on my own. Finally, I was offered this project and I felt I had no choice but to take it (the money is better than I can get doing anything else).

I've begun thinking that I'm going to be working on this project so I can learn the spiritual lesson I need to learn. I think I need to let go of the fear I associate with this job so I can meet each person I encounter and see the Light within ("namaste": the Spirit within me salutes the Spirit within you). I can't imagine how to let go of the fear unless I am able to center myself on God within me. I've been bitten by dogs on 3 occasions over the last few years. I've been yelled at and cursed and had nice people treat me very meanly. It hurts one's ego (and body) to have those things happen. I don't think I could get beyond those things on my own-not without years of intensive behavior therapy anyway. I have to trust that God, if I allow, will guide me. I have to let go of myself and "let God". Not my will but Thine. Even when it comes to requesting people to allow me into their homes to ask them intimate questions about their financial situation. Either I live with God at my center or I don't. If I live with God as my guide sometimes but forget at other times, I'm living falsely, untrue to what I know God wants for me. My recent discomfort tells me I need to make the next step, I need to center more fully, accept God at the core of being so I can live my life for God, not for myself.

I read about the "Hero's Journey" and wish for my "test". I long for my calling and now I see that all the time I'm living it. I'm the Hero of my story. My test is everyday.

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