Here I am. Sitting at my slightly cluttered desk. A stats book lays propped open on my left and to the right this week’s paycheck rests under a polka-dotted flowerpot doubling as a pencil holder. And I realize that I’m doing it again. I’m brooding.
I don’t want to do this.
Lately I’ve been struggling to find peace and meaning in the work that I’m doing. Instead of chilling at the beach with a good book or going on a road trip adventure with my friends, I’m taking a summer class and working at least forty hours per week at a restaurant. At the end of the day, exhaustion more often than not carries me to bed. I’ve had it with the rude customers who seem to have forgotten their manners (whatever happened to please and thank you?)...don’t I deserve a little respect too? I’m the one that’s taking your order and bringing you your food after all…And let me tell you, studying after a long day at work takes a pretty decent amount of effort.
So, what’s a 19 year-old college girl to do when life seems tedious and tightly packed inside a box of monotonous routine?
Do not fear, for there is a great lesson to learn here.
In his book of precepts, The Rule of Benedict, Saint Benedict described what should be the very essence of our careers: ora et labora.
Pray and work.
It’s hard to consider the mundane work we do to be a prayer. For me, I’m studying to be a nurse. Helping the sick and their families is what God has called me to do. It’s not hard to connect a career in nursing to my faith and prayer life because it’s a calling. But serving irritable people and fumbling for an A in a class? Why is it so hard to think of my present work in a spiritual light?
Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that we dislike. We trudge about it and try to avoid it. Sometimes in an attempt to console ourselves, we even say it’s not that bad. But I think that recognizing our dislike or how hard it is can bear great fruit.
I may not like working at a restaurant or studying during the summer, but I’m discovering that the work that I do is not about me. It’s about others. There are times throughout the day when I feel like throwing somebody’s food out the window (and I’m a pretty patient person) or just walking away from my duties. It would be so easy. Yet, I stay.
This summer, I’m learning one of life’s greatest lessons. Work isn’t always fun, and it isn’t always easy. In putting my frustrations aside and saying a quick prayer for peace, I’m letting God into my daily life. Into the work I do. It’s a lesson in humility, really. I’m no better than the people I work for, and they’re no better than I am.
We’re all children of God, and we all experience the same emotions. It’s my duty as a Christian to serve them will love and respect and in a way that recognizes their dignity. It’s our duty as Christians.
So, while this summer may not be the best summer, I’m going to make the most of it.
Our life should be an unending prayer. Peace and understanding blossom when we unite our work with God’s love. Peace, in that we develop a reign over our emotions when we give them to God. Understanding, in that we realize that every person deserves respect. It’s not about me. It’s about establishing and maintaining respect and love for God’s beautiful creation.
So, the next time you feel like Oscar the Grouch at work, send a quick prayer to God. Thank Him for giving you the opportunity to grow in His presence.
May peace dwell in our hearts this summer as we continue to discover light in ora et labora.
gives a "Greetings from Georgia!" Kate is a sophomore nursing major at Saint Mary’s College (an all-women’s college in Indiana). An ardent Jane Austen fan, Kate's a romantic at heart and enjoys hiking in New England, writing, and eating delicious food with family and friends (who doesn’t love a good caramel flan?!)