Picture this: It’s an evening service and you’re stepping inside your home church lobby. A girl, possibly in her early twenties, catches your eye. You stop and stare. What is it about her?
Her bright wide smile showing rows of pearly teeth, twinkling eyes oozing warmth and joy, promises of laughter and an open heart. She’s a gentle figure, giggling among her girlfriends, modestly dressed, ombre hair tucked neatly behind her ears.
She appears to be happy. Content. Probably has her life sorted out, the look of her. After the service, after mingling and tea and biscuits, you once again cross paths with the girl and overhear her speak. Her voice is soft and feminine, but passion and excitement encase every word that you hear.
‘I just needed to hear that,’ the girl says to her circle of friends. ‘It was what I needed. God was just speaking to me through the service, you know?’ She sighs, as if the weight of it is all was too much to express.
You think to yourself, “What a lovely young Christian girl.” The kind you wish you were. Though it’s wrong, you’re envious of the girl’s spirit, her fire, her passion. You wish you felt the same, but you’re tired from within.
It’s been a long week. This girl is a testament to the future of God’s love, you’re sure of it. You see it in her eyes.
But come Monday morning, this girl, this version of myself, no longer exists.
Every Sunday night, I’m invigorated by the day’s message. I return home, pumped and ready for the work week ahead of me.
Last week was a fluke, I would tell myself, remembering the number of times I broke down in the bathroom of the call centre I work for, the countless times my temper reached a boiling point and had me screaming at customers and workmates alike. I cringe, recalling the assignments I threw aside because I stubbornly believed it was hopeless.
But that was all last week. This week will be different, I whisper to myself as I get into bed. This week, I’ll act like the Christian I am during weekends, the godly woman I strive to be. I’ll exude patience, be an image-bearer of Christ to my co-workers. I’ll be a picture of grace. Warmth. Love. All that jazz.
I wake up, stretch my arms, and practice the smile I’m determined to wear on my face all day. I listen to Hillsong Young & Free and dance as I put on my makeup. I complete Day 3 of my bible plan on the bus. I start my week proud and eager to start anew, refreshed in my learnings.
Then… I arrive at the office only to find my headset missing, and my favourite chair stolen away. My team leader immediately tells me off for not exceeding my targets last month. My mother texts me, asking for money for the second time this week. Customers are queuing the call-lines and chaos is everywhere on the floor, team leaders screaming at my colleagues to hurry and attend to waiting customers.
Barely ten minutes into Monday morning, my smile begins to crack.
I don’t enjoy my current job at a hectic call centre, and I’m not shy to admit it. I’ve worked in my role for almost two years now, a case of being trapped in a job that I don’t necessarily enjoy but pays me well, is convenient to where I live, with comfortable working hours and benefits.
Despite all the positive aspects of my job, every task I am handed grates me to no end. There would be days I’d break down at my desk, screeching at taken aback customers. I’d come home from work and make life hell for my mother just because I had a bad day.
To cope with my unhappiness at work, I’ve created a persona of indifference. I’ve left my Christian values at the door and became known as an impossibly rude, aloof, and tactless young woman who clearly did not want to be there.
Two years on, I have no friends and no fond affection towards any of my workmates. I’ve justified my work attitude with the belief that my work did not define me.
The way I saw it, for the longest time, was of a point system. I read the bible, I attend church life groups, I pray and worship… what does it matter if for 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, I cut myself some slack and allow myself to tap into the darkest crevices of my mind?
To fester in resentment and inexplicable anger. To forget the teachings of our bible, sometimes cursing God’s name—sometimes, during the hardest days at work, I’d have thoughts of such heavy doubt in my faith that it crippled me.
I began to fear Sunday evenings, skipping service and opting to remain in bed all day because I knew I had another dreadful Monday to look forward to. Before I knew it, I had become a ‘Monday morning atheist’—as coined by Dave Scott and Doug Spada in their book (worth a read!).
When I finally realised it, glass shattered before my eyes, and the routine I’d made for myself made no more sense. I became ashamed of the person I was at work.
I recognised that we can’t take Christian cheat days and there is no way to justify slacking off our faith, regardless of our situation. We need to remember that every second, every minute, counts towards the glory of God.
Megan Fermo is a creative writing student from Wellington, New Zealand. Megan is working full-time to achieve her goal of publishing a novel.