Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I am not a martyr. I mean, sometimes, I like to think that I am...a martyr, that is...but really and truly? Ummm, nope.

I once worked for a company that requires employees to be available to work on Sundays. When I applied for the job, I clearly communicated that I would not work on Sundays. Well, they hired me anyway - I guess they really needed workers! About a month into my employment with this company, my manager asked if I would like to train for a position that would involve a promotion and a pay raise. I accepted the offer. About a month into my "career," the company also scheduled me to work on a Sunday.

I approached my manager and explained that I would not be available to work the scheduled shift. My manager communicated her frustration with me, then assured me she would take care of the scheduling problem. My promotion training stopped that very same week, and it was explained to me that if I would not work on Sundays, then I should not ever expect any promotions within that company.

Now, I would like to call that persecution. I would like to say that I was a martyr. But that would most certainly be over-stating the case. No, I was not being persecuted - I was simply experiencing life in the world of 24/7 retail. My manager had no malevolent intent toward me. She wasn't hating on me for refusing to work on Sundays. Basically, we two simply had different opinions and different responsibilities and, in this particular situation, our personal priorities did not compliment one another.

I recall another situation when I worked with a team of writers, one of whom had very strong opinions and who demonstrated very little tact or grace. Sometimes, Bob and I would go round and round over a particular project. He would become rude and recalcitrant, even to the point of making disparaging remarks about me or about the other writers. Working with Bob felt like bull wrestling, and it often left me emotionally bruised and limping.

I would like to call that persecution. To say that I was a martyr. But that would be dishonest. That wasn't persecution - that was simply dealing with Bob's difficult personality, living alongside another fallen human being.

Someone has a very different opinion from mine about how things should be done. Someone questions my actions or my motives. Someone ignores my input or devalues my labor. Someone "blows up" on me and starts throwing emotional punches. Someone is critical, maybe even downright vicious. Someone just won't leave me alone and let me do things my way.

I want to call that persecution. To say that I am a martyr. Over at merriam-webster.com, the second definition given for "martyr" is:  "a person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy." Okay, by that definition, maybe I am a martyr. But folks, that is not real martyrdom - that is pretend martyrdom. That is me feeling sorry for myself in the daily mess that comes with life in a fallen world. That is me trying to milk sympathy from those around me.

The first definition for "martyr" reads:  "a person who is killed or who suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc." My frustrated opportunities, my emotional aggravation, my disappointment, the differences of opinion and the unpleasant friction that make life uncomfortable, even painful...these do not equate to "suffering greatly," although I may try to convince myself or others to believe differently.

I can testify that it is wickedly easy to stand sulking in my little corner of the schoolyard, whining about how rough it is out on the playground. But life is so much richer - more vigorous, more rewarding, and, yes, more enjoyable -  when I let go of my preoccupation with my own skinned knees and bruised shins and get out there in the game.

No, I am not a martyr. All of those guys are way over there on the far side of the field. They are not sulking  here in the shadows - they've run plumb out into the sun.

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