Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Throwing in the dust cloth

I quit the cleaning job.

I feel awful. I feel like a quitter. I guess I am a quitter.

I feel relieved, in a way, because I did not enjoy it and I felt my brain beginning to atrophy. And yet. Did I do the right thing? Time will tell.

I didn't think through the initial decision; I see that now. I didn't even make it through the first week of school before I slipped into panic mode and began making arrangements to jump into this job. When will I actually live the "trust God" theory that I regularly recommend to others? Why do I even believe for a moment that I am in charge and can change things? Why can I never wait?

I didn't think through the sheer labor involved in deep-cleaning for hours at a time. I did not think through my blood sugar issues in the morning. I did not imagine that I would be required to carry heavy supplies up and down stairs, nor did it occur to me that people who pay for cleaning services sometimes have giant mansions. I never considered how the immensity and extravagance of those homes would gall me. I did not entertain the thought that I might not be good at cleaning. I forgot that instead of having my sweet boy interrupting my thoughts and making me long at times for privacy, my dearest little guy would now be gone all day, every day, and that my loner tendencies might be exacerbated by even more time spent alone or around people who are trying to ignore me.

I just did not think hard or long enough about this decision.

The part-owner who's been trying to train me was not amused when I shared the news. I don't blame him. I'm sure this happens a lot, and I caught him at a bad time, and while I was trying to end the situation before it became even more complicated and clients started to know me well, there really is no good time to bow out and leave people in the lurch.

So, he can be cranky with me and I will bow my head and bite my tongue because, frankly, he probably has the right.

What am I supposed to be doing? I just don't know. I do feel pretty certain, though, that cleaning is not what I'm supposed to be doing. The deciding factor was Gramma Sally's apartment.

One of the places I tidied last week was absolutely charming. When I stepped in the door, it felt as if I'd stepped into an embrace. Walls were filled with artwork, beautiful stuff, warm colors and nature everywhere. Rich-colored pottery sat on shelves, cozy and comfortable furniture beckoned, simply pretty curtains adorned every window, and beyond the sliding doors was the most inviting little porch I've seen outside of a magazine. Photos filled every flat surface, and a knitting basket adorned a chest at the bottom of her bed. (I knew it was a woman's home as soon as I entered. It just reeked of woman.) It was not a fancy place, it was not luxurious in any way—it was wonderful and homey to the extreme.

As I went about my work, I did some light dusting in the office. Sally (not her real name) had left some letters and envelopes out; I glanced at one of the papers, then was curious enough to examine some of the paintings on the walls. Sure enough, the name was a match; Gramma Sally was the artist of nearly all the framed pieces.

And I stood for a moment and pondered: here is this woman, talented and crafty, and she has made all these beautiful things and surrounded herself with them. Why am I here, cleaning her home, admiring her craftiness, instead of trying to create my own? Is this really what I am to do? Is this really the area in which I excel?

The answer was a resounding no. Couple that with the mantra that had been swimming 'round my head all morning ("Clean your own damned house") and you can probably see why I was having a hard time with this career move. Everything about it felt wrong. It's not using my strengths; it's keeping me from performing tasks that I do relatively well. Ultimately, I may not be engaged in even remotely artistic or creative work; still, I had to admit as I stood there that I possess many other strengths that lay cast aside while I struggled to do this job instead.

So, there it is. I'm unemployed again, but hopefully a tad wiser. I really need to stop worrying and rushing. I'm not supposed to worry; doing so implies that I don't think God has it under control. Rushing isn't very smart, either, because it gets you into positions that compromise your integrity and makes you do things that you know are not cool. For example, quitting a job after a couple of weeks. That's not cool. It's been a learning experience, and I'm a better cleaner because of it (in theory, at least) but I've thrown a wrench into the works for those hard-working people who own that business. That was not my intention. When I rush in like a fool (hence the phrase), there will be consequences.

I really hope I get some direction from God soon. I feel rather adrift. Sailing is okay, but it's more comfortable for me when I can glimpse the next island on the horizon. Right now? No islands in sight. Floating. Floating. I know He will hold me up, but I'm still going to scan for that island.


Athelas63 said...

Have you ever read CS Lewis' "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"? (yes, I know it should be underlined, but I can't figure out how to do that here...) ANYWAY - I remember how they drifted for so long and yearned to have some direction. It might be reassuring. (And I get freaky too when I don't have a goal, a time schedule, etc etc)

Mel said...

I have not. Is it fantastical or somewhat down to earth? I read his "The Great Divorce" and it was right on the edge of what I can deal with...

I'm not very good at drifting, that's for certain. Maybe I'm supposed to be learning the art of the drift.

chris h. said...

I know why you liked Gramma Sally's house -- it was just like yours, right down to the lovely homeowner-created artwork on the wall.

I wish I had some good advice for you. (And I wish I'd catch a break from work so you could come visit and chat over coffee.) But I do believe the "right" thing is out there (or in there, at home). You'll get there...roundabout journey notwithstanding. They say it's all about the journey, right? (Personally, I'm more interested in the stopping for road food and coffee along the way.)

Facie said...

I am pretty loyal. I did not want to leave my last (second!) job, but we know how that turned out. Now? If the job I eventually get/get next is not right for me, I won't stay for too long. In fact, I am already thinking that a job I just interviewed for is probably not right (more for the hours/pay, not the actual job). But I probably owe it to myself and my finances to try it if I get it (after some debate, of course).

I am all about trusting God, but it would be so much easier if He would kind of hit us over the head with the right answer.

You tried. You gave it your best. It did not work out. As my dad often says, whatever decision you make, you will make it the best. Or work for you. Or something like that. But the idea is a good one.

Athelas63 said...

Oh, I forgot - you don't like fantasy. It's got talking mice and dragons and such, so maybe you wouldn't care for it. Too bad...

Mel said...

Thanks for advice and support. Chris H, thanks for your kind remarks about my home. I only wish it were as cute as Gramma Sally's was! Exquisite. And Facie, boy am I with you--I am quite dense and God needs to club me up aside the head so I can be certain I'm hearing from Him.