Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

She Hates Her Job

Dear Aunt Dara,

I hate my job.  After 15 years of working there, I’m ready to walk out the door.  I know I should be thankful that I have a job, and I am—sort of.  So many people can’t find a job nowadays.  I am thankful that I do have a job and I really do appreciate my salary, but I’m just miserable when I’m at work.  I have a supportive supervisor and I get along well with my co-workers, but I work in customer service and most of the customers are unhappy.  They all have problems that they expect me to solve.  I used to like my job and found satisfaction with helping people.  I care about meeting my customers’ needs, so I try my best to help them, but most of the customers are unappreciative and some you just can’t satisfy.  A lot of them are angry and rude.  I am so stressed at work that it is starting to cause increased problems with my blood pressure and I’m afraid that my health will decline even further if I keep working there.  I have tried to find another job.  I have submitted numerous applications and have been interviewed several times, but nobody seems to want to hire me.  If I quit my job, I’m not sure I will be able to find another one, especially since I am over 55 years old.  Also, I don’t want to disappoint my husband.  We don’t need my income for our living expenses, but my husband is counting on my earnings to build up our savings for our retirement.  How can I get back that spark of enthusiasm that I used to have for my work and cope better with all this stress?

Completely Burned Out

Dear Burned Out,

Your husband should be aware of how much stress you are feeling with your job so that he can be a source of strength and encouragement to you.  Perhaps you are only assuming that he would be disappointed if you quit your job.  After all, he probably would want to spend retirement with a healthy wife rather than a hefty bank account.  When he understands how you feel about your job, the two of you should spend some time in prayer to determine what God wants you to do.  If you believe that staying in this job is what God wants you to do at this time, here are some suggestions on how to regain your spark of enthusiasm and deal with the stress:

First, take a look at your thoughts and your words.  Underlying a lot of the stress you feel at work are several “should” statements.  (People should not be rude.  People should appreciate what I do for them.  I should be able to solve people’s problems and make them happy.  I shouldn’t hate my job.  I should feel the way I used to feel about the work that I do.)  You feel the way you think.  If you tell yourself that your customers should live up to your expectations, you will feel disappointed when they don’t.  If you tell yourself that you are miserable at work and you hate your job, you will feel miserable at work and you will hate your job.  If you have the thought that you would like to walk out the door, eventually you will.  Keep in mind that words have power, and the words that we say aloud tend to become our truths.  Start concentrating on the positives about your job, and tell yourself that you like your job because of the positive things.  When you are feeling deeply discouraged with your job or you are faced with a really difficult customer, say to yourself, “This is only temporary, and I can tolerate anything that is temporary.”

Secondly, take a look at the people you are serving.  You are dealing with people who have come to you for help with their problems, but most of them are unappreciative of your help.  Jesus experienced the same.  When He healed 10 lepers, only one thanked Him (Luke 17: 11-18).  He did not let that stop Him from continuing to do good and heal the sick.  Rather than looking at your customers from a human point of view, as difficult or unappreciative people, try to see the face of Jesus in each person that comes to you (Matthew 25: 40).

If you still feel just as burned out after you try these suggestions, maybe God is trying to tell you that it is time for another chapter in your life.  Talk to your supervisor about transferring to a different position, if that is possible.  Take some time off.  Perhaps cut back your hours to part time.  Explore options for putting your talents and gifts into other uses besides a traditional job.  Think outside the box.  You have gained tremendous people skills in the 15 years that you have been working with unhappy people.  Trust the Lord to guide you, and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3: 6).

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Didn’t Get to Tell Him She’s Sorry

Dear Aunt Dara,

I broke up with my boyfriend on February 1st.  We had been seeing each other for three years, but he was not ready to consider marriage.  He was always jealous and suspicious because his ex-girlfriend cheated on him.  I couldn’t speak to another man without his making a big deal out of it and questioning me endlessly.  Finally, I had enough when he accused me falsely of seeing a male co-worker after work.  (I had actually gone to the mall to find some new shoes, but unfortunately I didn’t buy anything to prove my whereabouts.)  We had a nasty argument.  I told him that I didn’t want to see him anymore, but I instantly regretted it because I still loved him.  Afterward, he kept sending me messages saying that he loved me and wanted me back, but I didn’t answer any of his messages because I thought my silence would shake him up and teach him a lesson.  However, he was killed in an automobile accident on February 5th.  It’s been over a month, but I can’t stop crying.  My only comfort is knowing that he was a Christian and that I will see him again someday.  In the meantime, I feel so guilty and lost.  He died thinking that I didn’t love him anymore.  I wish I could go back and tell him that I love him, and that I’ve always loved only him.  How do I tell him that I’m sorry?  How do I forgive myself for hurting him so badly? 

Alone and heartbroken

Dear Alone and Heartbroken,

I am so, so sorry for your loss.  I know you must be devastated by what has happened.  There are no words that can adequately soothe the pain that you feel at this time, but I will try to soften it some.  According to the fifth chapter of II Corinthians, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  Believe and trust that your boyfriend is with Jesus.  Please allow the One whose arms are around your boyfriend to comfort you. 

You may not be able to tell your boyfriend directly that you love him and you are sorry for hurting him, but there is a way that he can know it.  You can write all your thoughts and feelings in a letter addressed to him. Be sure that you say everything in the letter that you want him to know.  This may hurt a lot, but that is natural and to be expected.  After you have finished writing the letter, pray and ask God to tell him what is in your letter.  Know and trust that God is faithful and will deliver your message; then trust that your boyfriend, who still loves you, understands and forgives.

I hope this helps.  Please be assured that you are in my thoughts and prayers, and let me know if you need anything else.

God bless.
Aunt Dara