Sometimes that desert for me is the workplace.
With so much competition, pressure to succeed, and different personalities in the workplace, the virtue of angelic sweetness is a difficult one to practice. However, Lent is giving me many opportunities to explore this virtue a bit more in my work world.
To be honest, my nonverbal behavior can certainly give one the impression that I am not practicing virtue, and in fact, I perhaps would like for you to remove yourself from my presence! As I read that sentence, I wish I could tell you that is not how I feel sometimes, but the fact of the matter is that I have my moments. And sometimes those moments happen at work.
I remember my Momma telling me a story about a situation at work. I don’t remember the exact situation, but I remember Momma saying, “I’m going to give that man a piece of my mind tomorrow. What he does with it, that’s his business. But I’m not going to be treated that way!”
I would thing, “Dang, Ma! You go! And, btw, I wouldn’t want to be in your path!”
To a certain extent, I totally get my momma’s reaction. I have those same knee-jerk reactions at work. At times, I do not want to listen to what others say – I mean, hey, I’ve got work to do! But I know that attitude will keep a barrier between myself and another, and that attitude also allows vice creep into my work world. This Lent, I am trying to develop angelic sweetness, at home and at work.
This virtue has always been attractive. I think of Our Blessed Mother when the angel of the Lord appeared to her at the Annunciation. She only asked one little question, and then through her angelic sweetness, said,
“I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Boom! Angelic Sweetness.
What about when Jesus told her his time had not yet come? I always think in that verse He is saying, “Leave me alone.” Does she then nag Him??? “Jesus, come on. As your mother, you need to do what I’m asking you to do!” Does she blame her menopause (yep, that’s me) on her reactions? “Sorry Son, Savior of the World, my hormones are flashing a little.”
No, she simply says to the waiters:
“Do whatever He tells you.”
The statue of Mary that is most notable is the statue of Mary crushing the snake. Look at her face, though. Her face, which should be with a grimace tough as nails (see my Momma’s reference above), is angelic sweetness. She is depicted as SMILING as she is CRUSHING the heck out of the snake. And not just any snake – the toughest snake of all. She is CRUSHING him…with a SMILE on her face.
Of course, Our Blessed Mother is full of grace. She is blessed among all women. She carries within her womb the Savior of the World.
She provides an excellent example of Angelic Sweetness.
Think of your work situation. Right now in my work situation, not many people are concerned with Lent. We are concerned with student retention and graduation, looming budget slashes, recruitment of new students, and helping students succeed. Because resources are limited, there is lots of competition about who is best. I had a professor who used to say, “The competition is so high because the stakes are so low.” This can create an environment that is exhilarating and STRESSFUL all at the same time.
With so many personalities, this can also create bumping up against egos, micromanagement, and non-productive moments.
Did I mention I am also menopausal?
With no excuses, I march into the work place to develop this Angelic Sweetness, and it has not been easy. It has not been easy at home either, but that’s a completely different blog post.
Here are some suggestions in a quest to practice Angelic Sweetness in the work place (even when it is not Lent):
1. If you feel yourself getting upset by something a co-worker said, take deep breaths and count to 10. This goes back to some of my Lamaze training. Counting to 10 helps you to refocus your energy and reactions. Deeply breathing helps to calm things down and releases endorphins in your body, which naturally relax the body.
2. Approach others with their dignity first. They do not have to earn dignity. This is something that is God-given. You cannot take it away from them, and you cannot give it to them. It is already theirs to begin with from Our Lord. Approaching others with dignity first means that although you may disagree, you will do so in a respectful way because they deserve their dignity. They may even try to take your dignity – maybe they do not know it is not theirs to take. But you know. So answer in dignity!
3. Sometimes putting a seal on your lips is important. I pray this prayer all the time, found in Scripture: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lip!” (Psalm 141:3). Not all things need a response from you. Sometimes the most angelically sweet thing you can do is ask for the seal.
4. While in your office, if you can, listen to uplifting music. Just recently, I heard that families who listen to music together are happier. I think I am happier when I listen to music. It puts me in a good mood and lifts my spirits. Even when faced with a difficult day, I sometimes hum to myself beautiful songs. This helps me to maintain a good mood, even in the difficult circumstances.
5. Remove negativity. It is so easy to be negative at work. A boss made a decision you did not agree with and before you know it – you’re venting. A coworker has bad habits, and now your thought process naturally takes you to all the negative of that person. The list could go on and on. Remove it. Promise yourself not to whine, make judgements, or vent (the venting is the worse!). I sometimes have to wear a rubber band around my wrist. Every time I think negatively, I pop myself with the rubber band. I learned this with some weight loss programs. It truly works. Whatever works for you, remove the negativity.
BONUS TIP: Give yourself only 10 minutes to discuss work at home – to vent to the person who knows you best. Then cut it out. Only 10 minutes. You need more minutes in your afternoons and off time being with your family and growing in love, happiness, and holiness.
Lent…it truly is upon us. Pray for me, please. I want to finish strong, and come out of the race with a new virtue: angelic sweetness.