I worked so hard to maintain my rank as lead in productions. I had three children to feed and my husband was without a job. I didn't maintain it for just the weeks prior to our bi-annual reviews as many did. I'd maintained a higher-than-necessary production rate for several months. Surely the raise would be substantial.
We weren't supposed to discuss our raises with one another. But that was just for those who got the biggest raises. Right? I witnessed a few shrugging shoulders: "Eh. Just your average twenty cents." Or "I can't believe they only gave me ten cents" from some of those who were less passionate about their employment than I was.
Without commenting on anyone else's raise, as it all seemed quite fair to me, I skipped on over to the office for the review, knowing I would be satisfied. The first page, everything seemed to be going quite well. There were lists of things like production, attendance, punctuality, attitude, dress. The second page was similar to the first in that it seemed to be going well. It was my supervisor's comments. Thus far, I'd been highly commended.
I flipped over the paper, expectantly, to that third page. Suddenly, I was sitting there with my lower lip practically resting on my navel. I'm sure I'd have caught a fly if there'd been one in the room. "Ten cents? Ten cents? You've gotta be kidding me!"
"Oh? Do you think you're the low man on the totem pole? Some people didn't get a raise at all."
"Some people didn't deserve a raise at all! Some people got a lot more than this too!" If I heard some say they got twenty cents, deserving it no more than I felt I did, then I'm sure there were some who got a lot more than twenty cents and had the good sense to keep their mouths shut about it. "I work as hard as anyone else does here, if not harder. I'm always on time. I have never once missed work except when my son was in the hospital. Why did I only get ten cents?"
"It was the average raise. Is this about what you think you're worth? Do you have a problem with it?"
I knew I couldn't afford to argue. I stood up, signed the review, and walked to the door. Holding the knob in my hand, I turned to the shift manager. "Yes, I do have a problem with it. But you and I both know there isn't a thing I can do about it." And I gracefully let myself out of the room.
Anger was not an emotion. Anger was drooled away somewhere in that office when my mouth gaped open. No, I was far, far beyond angry. Production was real easy to come by the rest of that day. It's amazing how much energy is penned up behind angry. And of course, everyone knew what kind of an excuse I'd gotten for a raise that day. Surely it made those less passionate than myself feel a little better about their dimes.
Hours later, my stress level somewhat stabilized, but definitely not squashed, one of the drivers tapped me on my shoulder. That man always had a smile on his face. I'm not even sure what his name was. I thought it strange and wondered if perhaps the man had never suffered a day in his life. I thought "Nobody can suffer and be that happy. Nobody!"
"You have the fear of God in you."
"Excuse me?" Certainly not something I wanted or felt like I needed to hear that day.
He spoke confidently: "I said, 'You have the fear of God in you.' I can see it."
"Okay." I'm sure that my inquisitive eyebrow didn't leave "okay" sounding too much like a statement. But I made sure it sounded enough like one for the old man to back off.
That accusation didn't let me rest. It played on my mind for many days to come. What was this 'fear' and who was that man? I thought, "Who does he think he is? Why would he say something like that to me? Am I supposed to 'fear' God? I thought He was all about love and dying for my sins. Fear?"
My three-year old son became terribly ill. I had to meet him in the emergency room two or three times per week. It became so emotionally trying that I put in my two-week notice. In the seven years I'd poured myself into that job, I never considered that I'd been making a family for myself among those I worked with... that letting it go would be difficult whatsoever. But my son, at that point, was lying deathly ill (his liver malfunctioning) in the emergency room. "I have to. I have to take care of my son. He needs me."
"We need you, too! What do you want? A dollar?"
"It's not about money, Kenneth. It's about priorities. My son is my priority."
"You have to feed him. Two dollars?"
"I have to take care of him. But I'm glad you think I'm worth the two dollars. I can't stay... not even for ten. My son is sick."
"Don't you know that I can't hire you back for a year if you quit?"
"Don't you know that I can't replace my son?"
They tell me two men were hired to replace me. It wasn't too surprising -- Seven years is a long time for a top producer to build up a routine, a way of cutting corners and saving milliseconds. I always was a perfectionist. But what about the "fear" that wouldn't leave me alone?
Love blindsided me and took me into the presence of the Most High. Fear blindsided me and keeps me there.
Love was the key to open the gates of heaven to me. But fear? Well, fear is a lock from the other side of heaven that makes that gate a one-way. There's a key that fits it, but my blessed Messiah took it. He owns it. And He destroyed it for me when He put fear in my heart. It's job security!
"Fear"? Ah! Well, that's something He puts in those He loves. It's actually a pretty good thing, despite the fact that He said "fear not" numerous times. He definitely was not telling us not to fear Him.
Jeremiah 32 (KJV)
40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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Wow! Treava, how wonderful, how marvelous. Yes, God has put that holy fear in me too. A fear so that we won't turn away from Him. That fear is His love, being manifested for our benefit. Much love, Sharon