A swarm of high school students hovered around as a fellow assistant coach and I discussed our hectic schedules. I casually mentioned to my fellow assistant coach that she might consider applying at the coffee shop where I work. She responded by listing off all of her priorities and heavy course load that she was committed to for the upcoming semester (some of which were the same as mine, such as coaching). I immediately responded by listing off my various responsibilities, engagements, jobs, course load, and just about anything else I could think of to belittle this girl’s lament over how busy she was going to be this semester. By the time I had finished rattling off my agenda I felt empowered and superior to my counterpart, but upon later reflection, I realized the grave mistake I had made.
I had insulted this woman’s perception of heavy commitment and agenda overload. I superimposed my perception of what being busy looks like upon her schedule and assumed that my life was much harder than hers in an effort to look more impressive in front of our captive audience. It wasn’t fair or appropriate for me to parade my hectic agenda around like a badge of honor and accomplishment, especially in front of our young company. I would never advocate that another young woman should jump through the hoops that I have had to in order to graduate debt free and support myself. So why would I brag about my chaotic calendar AND put down a fellow hard working woman in the process?
I think there is something so sexy in American culture about working yourself to death. Nowadays, colleges and universities want to know how stacked your extra curricular and volunteer hours were in high school, not how your mental health and relationships are holding up. Applying for most jobs requires providing references of good character, qualifications for the job like years of experience and a slew of accomplishments collected along the way. Prospective jobs don’t want to know how successful your marriage is or how your heart is doing. So it only makes sense that in order to advance ourselves in society, we Americans walk around touting our busy schedules and crushing others in our path who dare to call into question our work ethic and effort.
Investing your worth in your accomplishments is exhausting and contradictory to the way Christ has called us to live. Christ reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 4 to:
“Mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
Christ never asked us to work ourselves to the bone for a living that he ultimately provides. And he definitely did not ask to put down our fellow man and belittle their stresses and anxieties. By invalidating our conversational counterparts we highjack an individual’s expression of anxiety and stress and seek to promote our own agenda. Pretty sure that doesn’t reflect the heart of Christ…
Rather than hijacking my exchange with the fellow assistant coach to my benefit, I absolutely could have waived off my fellow assistant coach’s bemoaning and simply digressed from the conversation. Instead, I took the opportunity to invalidate her and explain why my circumstances were superior to hers. And I did that right in front of impressionable young women! Can you sense me facepalming in this moment? In hindsight, I should have encouraged this young woman in her busy semester of college and celebrated her accomplishments. If I were to even mention my circumstances at all, I might have warned this young woman of the dangerous pace that can take possession of your time in college, rather than normalizing my circumstances and elevating my chaos as something to be sought after.
Remember to celebrate with those who have taken the path through college and put in hard work toward their future. Always encourage your fellow woman. And caution yourself to reflect the heart of Jesus in all our your exchanges, especially the conversations overheard by young people.Where have you missed opportunities to encourage other women and share your hard earned wisdom?
Where have you missed opportunities to encourage other women and share your hard earned wisdom? Do you ever feel the need to remind others how busy you are while unintentionally invalidating in the process? Be encouraged this week to make amends for the feelings you might have hurt and the toes you might have stepped on.