I wasn’t at work the day before that, or the day before that, either. In fact, the last time I showed my face at the office was last Wednesday, the day before my surgery. I’ve been gone for more than a week now. And the way it’s looking, it may be at least a week before I’m really back. Come Monday, I’d like to be there. But we’ll see.
It’s no secret, though. My boss knows, even approved the time off, in fact.
The last few weeks of work were a bit stressful. Just a month back, I was promoted to a new position, and since then, we’ve been trying to sort out who will be doing my old job, much of it being reassigned internally. As a result, I have been working extra hours each day. At night, I was dreaming about reports and training manuals and PowerPoint presentations.
With my surgery on the horizon, I was racing the clock, trying to get a few projects finished, a few other projects to a stopping point, knowing that I would be out for a while. During those days, I remember pushing myself, thinking to myself, you can rest next week. And though it was tempting to complain about work, really, it was God’s way of saving me during those restless days of waiting for my treatment plan to begin.
I was at work when I got the news that my cancer had returned. Coworkers gathered tight right there around my desk and held my hand and let me cry. A friend in the office next door took me out for a milkshake, right in the middle of the day, to help me gather myself. Another friend in a next-door office sat with me at the hospital the next morning while I had a PET scan.
Word got out about my cancer in the next couple of days and everyone expressed their concern. But then, I just went in every day and worked. I prepared training materials and developed client reports. I wrote batch file code and organized automated systems. Sometimes, I thought about my cancer, about the surgery coming up and the radiation I would endure, but then I’d just get back to work.
Work saved me during those weeks of waiting.
Work saves me now.
Everyone says I’m a little crazy wanting to go back to work on Monday. It’s probably a little too soon. But at work, I’m just expected to get things done, to sit in my office and write emails and analyze numbers. Even now, as I sit cozy in my recliner during the day and lay out long in my bed at night, I know this is just part of my recovery period. Because in order for me to really get better, I’ve got to go back to work.
Sheila Lagrand said it just right in her post, “Seeking Refuge in My Office.” After leaving work one Friday, she and her husband had been called away abruptly when her mother-in-law was in a car accident. They found her lying in ICU, cuts and bruises covering her face. On Sunday, they left her there, knowing her care was best left in God’s hands, and the care of the medical staff. Monday morning, Sheila was back at work.
Monday morning I drove to work. Amazingly, my office was just as I’d left it on Friday. Our world had shifted when those cars collided, yet this place remained the same. My stapler stood at the ready; pens lined up, primed for service. A vacation request lay in my in-basket, awaiting my approval.
I opened my file cabinet and admired the folders, neatly labeled, each one containing what it should.
I punched a few buttons and my computer screen glowed. I turned to my email. My boss needed a budget analysis. A coworker wanted clarification on a policy. The latest revisions to our marketing materials were ready for review.
I ordered the tasks set before me for efficient completion. I would line up the numbers in a spreadsheet, explain the policy, critique the booklet copy, approve the vacation request.
For the next eight hours, I knew what to do.
I took a deep breath, overcome by the sheer orderliness of it all.
On this Monday, after a weekend filled with anxiety, I saw my work in a new way. I could seek refuge here . The familiar rhythm of my job felt as comforting as liturgy; the shelter of my office was as soothing as a sanctuary.
Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, I’m going to try to go to work on Monday. I’ve been telling people it’s because my work needs me, that they can’t get by without me.
But the truth is, I need work. And me? Nope, I can’t get by without it.
Join me for regular jaunts around The High Calling network, randomly visiting fellow bloggers, soaking up their words and ideas, and then coming back here to write about them from my perspective.
Each Thursday, consider going “There and Back Again” yourself. It’s simple.
Photo by A. Strakey, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.