Right above my desk, hanging on the wall with a crumpled piece of Scotch tape, is a card someone gave me last March.
“You are doing a freaking great job,” the card says, in bright colorful letters.
On the back is a quick note, scribbled by my friend, Hope. She’d brought the card over to our house just a few weeks into the COVID-19 lockdowns, along with some cookies and milk for my daughter, Easter tea towels for me and a six-pack of Guinness for my husband.
The whole day, Hope had been driving around town dropping off little care packages to friends and family, just simple gift baskets with treats and a pick-me-up, to encourage folks during what was proving to be a very scary, uncertain and lonely time.
I loved the font on the card so much, I hung it on my office wall, and nearly every day I see it, these bright red and yellow bubble letters shout at me that I’m doing a good job. A great job, in fact. A freaking great job.
If only I believed it.
I, along with probably the rest of the world, have not felt like I have done a particularly good job these past few months.
My patience has worn thin. My temper has flared. My attitude has been bad. My optimism gone.
I’ve grown weary of the “we’re living in unprecedented times” language, longing for the day when we never have to again hear the words “when things go back to normal,” usually spoken on a Zoom call where we’ll tell someone no less than three times, “You’re on mute.”
I’ve missed friends I would normally see during usual summer travel. I’ve missed family we’d visit at holidays. I’ve missed date nights at our favorite restaurants and play dates with our daughter’s best friends.
I’ve missed wandering the aisles of Target, casually sipping a chai tea latte, throwing random housewares into my cart. I’ve missed Mass, with a church filled to the brim. I’ve missed feeling like I have everything under control, and I’ve missed feeling OK when I know I don’t.
I see the words “You are doing a freaking great job,” and I roll my eyes, and mutter to myself, “No. I’m not.”
But maybe it’s a good thing that I know I’m not doing a good job. Maybe it’s perfectly fine that I am struggling. Maybe there’s some good to be had in feeling like I am drowning, floundering, even sometimes failing. Because it’s in recognizing that things have been (and are) really hard that I can cry out for help, beg assistance and lean on Jesus.
I find that when I “have it all under control,” I am tempted to think very highly of myself. And while confidence and recognition of one’s gifts is not a bad thing, there’s a danger in assuming I’ve done it all on my own. It’s easy to believe I don’t need Jesus.
But in the midst of the storm and these “unprecedented times,” when things seem to be falling apart all around me, I find myself turning to the Lord much more quickly.
Perhaps I need to see that card even more often, then.
“You are doing a freaking great job” in bright letters forces me to think, “No I’m not. I need Jesus to do that.” And then I turn to Him.
As we approach Easter, I can’t help but think back to the beginning of all this pandemic-driven uncertainty last year, and I am clinging to the idea that the good job any of us can do — even if it’s a good job we’re worn out by, exhausted from and wish we didn’t have to do — is done best when we are in friendship with the Lord, who does the work with us.
Katie Prejean McGrady is an international Catholic speaker and author.
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