Friday, May 13, 2016

Grace to Katrina...

1 John 4:20 -21
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. And he was given us a command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sisters

Disclosure: The names of the businesses and people have been changed to protect their identities.  This is a experience being share by a dear friend which illustrates the strength and hope found at the end of the situation.

Situation

I was in a situation once at a previous work place, there was this one co-worker who I could not get along with. However it did not start that way, it took time for the animosity to develop...

The first time I recall meeting Katrina was after she had returned from her leave of absence to Raptor Affiliated Co. She was suppose to be back a week prior to train me  in  my new role, but ended up arriving a week and a half later. But once she arrived she seemed sweet, friendly, and helpful, at least that was the first impression.

Our first interactions were quite friendly and she was very welcoming. Gradually with time, Katrina became verbally abusive and less cordial. I had take a position which one of her close friends had left, and one which Katrina had fulfilled a few years prior, and I was able to manage the pressure better than she had (that was the feedback I got from co-workers and management). With time she became passive aggressive, making comments about my appearance, the way I talked, and even the food I ate. One comment that stayed with me, was when I was eating a burger, and she said "What is that smell, it smells like dog food!", mind you, I was eating Burger King, therefore it was beyond my understanding why she would make suck remark.

I felt unsupported. I stayed strong and focused. I continued with the verbal abuse for a year, tried talking to my manager and she had some talks with her but nothing changed.

The Incidents 

It was June 11, 2010 a hot summer afternoon during the peak of harvest season. Many employees were arriving to the office, collecting their weekly paycheck amongst other requests. The phone was ringing constantly and I had to answer phone calls and greet people.

The phone started ringing, two different calls, one from a partner for the business and another from an employee. I had put both calls on hold, each wanting something different, the partner wanted to talk to my manger who was in a meeting, but he was willing to wait, the employee wanted to talk to my manager as well, but he wanted to talk ASAP. Then came a group of 5 employees, collecting checks for the week, I helped them out, came back to the calls, and one had hung up, the other was waiting. However, I had forgotten who was on the line, when I answered it was the partner, and he just didn't hold back. He stated "You need to learn how to do your job better, you are incompetent, and it shouldn't take you this long to transfer me to your manager!" Then he hung up.

I turned to Katrina and asked for help, to which she stated "Five years ago when I was working that position, I did everything on my own, I never had help" with this statement I knew two things, she was not going to lift a finger, and the partner was livid with me. I blanked out, walked out of the office and started to hyperventilate, cry, gasping for air, and couldn't form a sentence or say a word, I kept looking around and continued crying. I was having my first panic attack.


After my panic attack I talked to my manager, she asked what happened, and I denied the tension. I already knew that she would take Katrina's side, and I didn't want more tension. I put up a good fight,  still did my best and put a strong face. It would be a temporary fix to the situation.  I filed for worker compensation  for work related stress in December 20, 2010, and returned until February 14, 2011. I went through therapy for 4 months, and developed anxiety and depression as well as lack of confidence. Every time that my manager wanted to have a meeting I felt panic because I knew it was negative feedback.

Root of the Issues

At the time I did not know it was a panic attack, but what I did know was that Katrina did not like me nor could she stand me. During the time that I was working with her (3.5 years), I found out the following:

  • Insecurities- Katrina was always comparing herself to others, wearing Juicy Couture, carrying Coach purses, Louis Vitton, and Michael Kors to make up for her lack of confidence. 
  • Unhappy- She was unhappy with her circumstances, she married young (she was 29.5 years old when I met her, she married at 23), childless, her husband was a harvester worker (she thought it was a low job), and she never saw the blessings she had in her life.
  • Bitter- When someone would announce that they were expecting, getting married, or having a life changing event, venom would be spilling out of her, trying to belittle the events and those being blessed around her. 
  • Resentful- Always wanting to be on top and would hate anyone that did better than her. Katrina was very competitive to obtaining attention (even though she was married, she wanted to be the fairest of them all!). Could not stand someone complimenting her co-workers. 
  • Prideful- Would talk down to harvester workers and to other co-workers. Always putting herself above others and in her world only her feelings and needs mattered. Anyone that would make her feel inferior she would try to break their spirit. At one point it became an issue to her that I was trying to earn my degree and she felt challenged. 
Overall, Katrina was hurting, and people that hurt go around hurting others such as family friends or people at close proximity. Of course, I was extremely close since I was the new kid on the block taking on her old job and working with her on a daily basis.

With all the incidents, backstabbing, lack of support, I hated her, I would ponder on how to hurt her, and ways to make her feel worse (because I was made feel like I was nothing). There were times that the thought of breaking her windshield or slashing her tires came to mind. I never acted upon it, but wow the power I felt just thinking and plotting on it.

Door is Wide Open, and I'm pushed out...

After so much tension, I left my position with the company, I felt very resentful and hurt. After 3.5 years of service, Katrina found a way to get me out of the office. There was not true grounds to terminate me, and I was caught in a place where I had no support.

I had lost my focus and forgot my worth. I had been broken down and pulled apart, and finally I was shown the door. On August 24, 2012 I left with severance pay, a box with some belongings and the humiliation of being escorted out of the office passing by my co-workers. Some looking at me with disbelief, some feeling sorry for me and some looking down because they felt embarrassed for me. They knew that my feud with Katrina was what pushed me out of there. 


Grace...

Looking back I see why I was removed from there, after my departure politics, feuds and differences tore the business apart. Partners started leaving and the supporting sister company pulled away looking for new investors. I was still bitter, and anytime I would think of my then co-worker, I felt my blood boil. I hated her and wished for her to suffer the worse type of inferno that  could be imagined. There were times that I considered sending a private eye to find dirt on her, going back to slash her tires or sending compromising evidence of her infidelity to her husband. But I did nothing.

It wasn't until I took the Altar Ego class at my church that I came to a chapter that brought the verse of 1 John 4:20-21. First time I read this verse, I was ashamed. I knew that I loved God and I hated Katrina, I despised her. I wanted to see her rot in hell. However, the end of the verse states "whoever loves God must love their brothers and sisters," whether I liked it or not, she was a child of God.

This is when I had to learn to see her not for her sin, but for her hurts and hangups. Where I had to image her as a helpless child searching for her guidance. The moment I started to think of her as a helpless child, weak, abandoned, rejected, ignored and casted out was the moment i realized that I did not hate her, just everything she had done.

A person that hurts will act on those feeling of hurt towards their surroundings because that person wants understanding. That person wants others to understand where they currently stand in life, and is desperately seeking for some help and compassion. It is not the healthiest way to reach out, yet it might be the only way they know how to reach out. Overall, this was not a wasted experience, every time I face a Katrina incident I remember this:

-Are they hurting?
-How are they hurting?
-what is causing their pain/ unhappiness?

If I find answers to these questions, I pray for the person and myself. I especially pray to be able to give grace, and to give myself grace (if I started behaving in a non-Christian way).

Even if I don't find answers to these questions, I pray. It is not up to me to fix it, but it is up to me to ask God to fix it and for me to not be in the way of his work.

This has been my Aha moment...