“Provoke love.” he said to me.
My brother said this to me when I was complaining to him about my current situation at work.
Working in an environment where Christ isn’t the center creates a space where the devil can swoop in and change your whole attitude, language, personality, everything. It’s so easy to jump into a worldly persona when I’m at work. Unintended words slip out, harsh things are said jokingly, complaining may happen (almost always happen, really). Finding Jesus in a “no-Jesus” workplace, is like trying to find Waldo in one of his books. When you discover another Christian in your “no-Jesus” workplace, it’s like finding gold. But that’s not the point of this post.
In this season, I’ve been struggling with loving people the way Christ does. This loving includes my coworkers. Colleagues can push buttons too. Normally, I’m not one who gets too upset. But when I do, I tend to hold my hurt or anger in. It simmers inside, until someone goes too far and I boil over.
Now, just a little side-note, my top love language is words of affirmation, meaning that words of encouragement, kindness, love are my jam. This will make more sense when I explain.
The other thing I’ve been struggling with at work is joking. I’m not super sensitive, but we all have feelings. When you say something negative about me, or about my work ethic, it hurts. I may not show it much, but it stings. People have heard the phrase “sticks and stones” sure. We’re suppose to act like mean joking words doesn’t hurt, like we’re supposed to let it roll off our back, but that doesn’t work all the time.
It’s effective when you state these things to someone who’s love language is “words of affirmation.” According to the Five Love Languages website, “insults can leave you shattered and are not easily unforgotten.”
Boy is this true. Even in joking matters, hurtful words poke and jab. And you can only take so much poking and jabbing.
One day was especially difficult for me. The joking was endless, and I was tempted to walk out. Normally, I am a happy person, who enjoys the company of others, but that day I didn’t want to talk to anyone. My father always told me that there’s always a sliver of truth to every joke. And with words, once it’s said, you can’t take them back.
So when my brother asked me how I’ve been, I told him that work sucked. People can be mean, including the ones you work with.
And then he said that he’s been experiencing the same thing. That people haven’t exactly been the kindest to him either. When he got frustrated and angry, the Lord put something on his heart – “provoke love.”
He said when it’s hard to show love, show it. Show love instead of anger. He challenged me to exemplify Christ’s unconditional love where darkness resides.
I was amazed when he told me this. And I realized that where I work is where love is needed the most. There is already enough anger and frustration in the world. His statement struck me, because as a Christian, I consider myself called to love others. And I can’t love others if I hold anger in my heart.
His comment was refreshing, and reminded me of one of my purposes in life. I let go of the anger I harbored, and decided it was time to love. The next time I enter work I hope that provoking Christ’s love will make my work life a bit more bearable, and me more receptive to the need of His love for those who do not have it.