Psalm 37:5-6

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
It's been a rough few days! My bully was back. I knew that a permanent change was probably too much to ask for. I mean, when he admits to having these behaviors for thirty years, he's probably not going to change them in three weeks. I knew that but....hope springs eternal.

When I took this job I was told that I would have an evaluation at the end of my first ninety days and, barring any problems, I would receive a raise at that time. The end of my ninety days was July 1. When it came and went with no evaluation I was a little concerned. I asked about it. He had a meeting with the board on the 11th, it would be discussed then. I asked if there were any problems. "No." Any concerns. "No." Anything I should be aware of or change? "No." End of conversation.

On Tuesday morning, the 12th of July, he stated in our staff meeting (which we don't usually have because he doesn't show up) that he had something to share with me, would I like to discuss it now or wait until it was just us? Before I could answer, he asked my co-worker if she'd like to be a part of this conversation. She declined, so when the staff meeting was over he walked away. I stopped at his office door and asked if he'd like to have the conversation now or later. "Now is as good a time as any," he said.

He started by saying, "Hmmm. I guess I don't even know how to say this." Long pause. "Well, you don't intend to make this job permanent, do you?" I responded that I didn't know of any reason that I would not stay in the job as long as everyone was happy with my work. So again, he said, "Why would you want to stay here?" I told him that I loved working with all of the people. I loved that I get to work with everyone, from the youngest to the oldest or, as a friend of mine said many years ago, from the cradle to the grave. I love all the different projects and classes and activities. I love teaching and this job provides a lot of opportunities to do that. I like the location, close to my son and to my parents, close to the city but not in it. And mostly I just love the people in the community. It's a good place to be.

These were obviously NOT the answers he was looking for, so he said, "Well, the board has agreed to give you a small raise at this time and then we'll see where we are in another ninety days." I asked if there was a problem or a concern. "No, everyone is exceptionally pleased with what you're doing, they just want to see what another ninety days brings." I asked if they were looking for something in particular. "No." The meeting was over.

I took this job because I had been unemployed for over a year and a half. It was something I had done in the past, pretty successfully and I enjoyed it a great deal. It was only part time and for much less money than I had made before, but I was in hopes that once I got started it would work into something more permanent. When I met with the board originally, a more permanent position was certainly something that could be looked at if everything worked out. I had heard only praises for my work, so I assumed that the raise I had been promised would happen at the end of the ninety days. (You know what they say about assuming, especially if you have a bully in the house).

I had meetings into the evening on Tuesday, but when I returned home I called the board chairman and asked him to please share with me his version of the meeting, whatever he thought that he could. He asked me what my supervisor had said to me. When I told him, he was very unhappy. That is not what he had been told to do, but if I could just be patient and wait another ninety days, they'd work it all out.

I asked if there were any concerns about the work I was doing. The chairman assured me that there were none, everyone was thrilled with my work. They certainly didn't want to lose me. I knew, from looking at the financials, that the money was not the issue. The raise and much more had been planned for. He ended the conversation by asking me to just be patient.

Sometimes tough decisions are thrust upon us out of the blue. I don't know whether they are tests from God, or just people being people, but there they are. After being unemployed for so long, I did not want to lose my job, but the reality of my situation was that I needed that raise and I needed my position to be full time just so that I could pay my bills. Actually, it wasn't really a choice. I had to do something. If it wasn't this job, then I would have to find something or several somethings that would take care of me. Doing other part time jobs along with this one really isn't feasible; I mean, it could be done, but everything would suffer. This job needs someone who can just devote their time and energy to just this.

My work was exceptional, according to my supervisor/bully. Everyone was thrilled with my work according to the chairman. They didn't want to lose me. I needed more information. So I walked to a friend's house who just happens to serve on the same board. I hoped that she would tell me more, and she did.

It seems that my bully had not wanted to address my evaluation or raise at all on Monday night. He wanted to wait another ninety days or even another one hundred twenty days. The board refused that idea. They wanted to give me the full raise. He wanted to give me none, no real reason, he just didn't think I'd been there long enough. So they split the difference and gave me a small raise, one that made a difference of fifty dollars in my paycheck. (I used to do payroll for all of my employees in my previous work. I knew how to figure it out). They all agreed that in another ninety days, there was the possibility of an additional raise. He told them that the extra work I had been doing was strictly volunteer. That it wouldn't be 'fair' to the real volunteers if I got paid for it. (The volunteers had asked me to help right after I started working because I was the staff person).

Now, what to do. It's Wednesday morning. I have the information that I needed. I called another friend who serves as chairman of a board I work very closely with in this organization. She has been aware of my issues with this bully. She, herself, has had issues with him. She was the one who asked me to help the volunteers. I told her what had happened and that I thought I had done everything I was supposed to do and more. I told her that I would have to look for employment elsewhere; someplace with a better wage, something full time. It was not a decision I was happy about, but one that I saw no other choice for. She told me that they were not prepared to lose me and she asked me to give her a little time. She was going to make some phone calls.

I was asked, by my bully, to come to his office yesterday, Thursday, for a meeting with the board chairman. They had some questions they wanted to ask me. They were meeting when I got to the office. I could hear from down the hall, parts of the conversation. My bully was telling the chairman that he didn't believe I could do this full time, that one thing would suffer if I took on the other (which I'd already done), that he'd have to come up with a better job description to include everything that I would have to do and he started listing them all. I heard the chairman tell him just to bring me in and we would discuss it together. Here we go....

I had come prepared with all the documentation that I thought I would need, but more than that I had spent the previous evening and that morning in prayer with God. Not prayers asking to save my job that I love so much, but prayers thanking Him for whatever the outcome would be. Prayers that said I didn't really understand this, but I knew if this door was closing another one, a better one, would open. I asked for the words, wisdom and grace to represent not only myself, but God, in that room.

Remember, I had just heard him give all the reasons why giving me anything more was a bad idea. I was ready. He, my bully, began by telling me just what I'd heard. He listed all the things that would have to be done if I were to take on these added responsibilities and therefore become full time and make more money. When he finished his litany of new services, I opened my file and showed him that everything he had just listed had already been done. All the planning, all the committee work, all the preparations that were possible to this point had been completed. His response, "I knew that." And then he didn't say another word.

The chairman asked me what I would need to stay in the job. I told him and I only asked for what I really needed. I know what has been budgeted and it would certainly be nice to have all of that, but I didn't ask for it all. We talked about a lot of things on a personal basis for me: how I had been living paycheck to paycheck, juggling this bill to pay that one this month, switch next month, and how I just couldn't keep living this way. The chairman was shocked. I was informed that normally the board doesn't have another meeting until October but they had already agreed to meet in August to discuss next year's budget. He looked at my bully and told him that they would be discussing my wages then and that it would be not only his recommendation, but my bully's as well, that I would be made full time and that I would receive...are you ready...exactly the figure that I had in mind when I entered that room. I had not shared that exact figure with them yet but there it was.

By the end of the meeting, I was offered an expense account, a credit card for business purposes, a raise in August and another in October taking me up to the full amount budgeted and access to health insurance if I was interested. Also, the raise, even though not voted on until August 8 would be made retroactive to August 1. All of this was written down in the chairman's notes, read and re-read for clarification and agreement by all of us, and finalized. Then my bully tried one more time, "Don't get her hopes up. This still has to be agreed to by the full board and we don't know what they'll say." My friend, the chairman, looked at my bully and said, "I've already talked to the board members and this has already been agreed to. It's a done deal. We just have to make it official in August."

I hadn't needed all my documentation. I hadn't needed anything but the prayers. The only answer for what happened in that room is that God took charge. He had taken charge before we all came together; in the chairman's work with the other board members, in my committee chairperson's phone calls, and in those board members calling me with reassurance and hope. I am just constantly amazed at how He works with and through other people! I had gone into that room prepared to ask for just what I needed, not to be greedy and ask for anything more. I left that room with what I needed and much, much more.

There were several miracles that happened this week: I set aside my pride and asked for help, people's hearts were touched and they extended to me support of every kind-prayers, money, kind words, my bully's tongue was tied-whether because he saw what was happening and that he would not 'win' this one or because God tied it I don't know, and God offered me, through these people, more than I could ask for.

All I can do is say, "Thank You, Thank You God!"

Author's Bio: 

Ereline has served in the educational field for over 35 years. She has worked as a public school teacher, a christian education director, an early childhood professional, and a program director. She has also worked with collaborative teams promoting child abuse awareness and has helped to found child protective programs in association with the NCAC.

Working with people of all ages, Ereline has developed a communication strategy to relate with and to the participants making the lessons she teaches down-to-earth and easily understandable by all.

Ereline's blog, Simply Faith (erelinessimplyfaith.blogspot.com) provides daily lessons grounded in faith, hope, and love.