Last week was a bad week at work.
It wasn’t a particularly hectic week; I didn’t have a jam-packed schedule. Deadlines weren’t haunting me, and neither was my boss. To my knowledge, there were no clients or revenue lost.
I was just having a bad week. I felt insignificant, and I thought my work was ineffective. When I was asked for an opinion, I didn’t think mine would matter. And a couple of times, I wondered what my purpose was at the company. Maybe I was wasting their time and money by working there.
Thankfully, I stuck it out, and this week, everything’s fine. But while I was struggling, I was happy to have come across the chapter in J.B. Wood’s new book, At Work as It Is in Heaven, called “Allow Yourself to Have a Really Bad Day.” In my case, it was more like a week. Or two.
In that chapter, he describes a day at the office when he just feels really off.
As the hours marched by, I felt not only lazy and tired, but also guilty I noticed my colleagues as they energetically talked on the phone, chattered about projects, and held important meetings. Why didn’t I have any important meetings scheduled today? There they were, on the phone, conferring in the hallways, getting things done. Taking names. Doing deals. Contributing. Unlike lame, no-good, unproductive me.
What happens next is classic. He calls his wife, telling her he feels like “a waste product.”And she says, in so many words, get over it. Everyone has a bad day. And so he went home and took a nap, and by the next day, he was back to his productive self.
Though my listlessness lasted a little longer, it ended no less anticlimactically, and in fact, was motivated by this very book, which took the nitty gritty spirituality I live the rest of my life by and helped me apply it at work.
In another chapter, Wood talks about encouraging coworkers, a practice that feels foreign in our competitive corporate world. He uses a British colleague’s slang, “Brilliant!” as a model for dishing out the praise generously. He also has a chapter on journaling, his practice of “transcribing the obsessive voices in my head into a handsome series of leather-bound, hand-written manuscripts.” But as he describes writing down these thoughts about his work and his insecurities, it’s clear that this journal is actually a prayer book, a reminder of God’s invisible hand guiding him on his corporate pilgrimage.
I turn to my journal, and let it all out in a flurry of cries and pleas to God, followed by a good deal of man-to-man straight-talk. It calms me down. A few months later, I’ll go back and read through those escalating crazy-man thoughts, and have a good chuckle. Ha, Ha, wasn’t that funny how I got so worked up over that little thing! Oh, Ye of Little Faith. Sheesh!
At Work as It Is in Heaven is a collection of essays that emerged from Wood’s “diligent, intentional pursuit of understanding the integration of my work and spiritual life.” It’s neurotic at times – and not just when he’s journaling; it’s philosophical – like when he contemplates multiple universes with infinite variations of himself; and it’s hysterical – a certain encounter on the subway makes that perfectly clear.
But beyond that, this book tears down the veil that exists between the sacred practices of Christianity and the cutthroat realities of the cubicle or the boardroom. In At Work as It Is in Heaven, we see Wood living out his faith at work. And it gives me confidence that I can, too.
Even when I’m having a bad day.
This review was done without any compensation from the author, other than his kind friendship over the years. And I know him well enough that I wouldn’t be recommending the book if it weren’t a good one!