Under the work load


    My father ached to be in business.

    Instead, for years, he worked for another. Until the desire, the irritation, and all the worries festered and propelled him into business for himself. Now, he was A.J. Metzler Electric, a tradesman, driving a van full of tools from daylight to dark.

    He was busy.

After some years, he and my mother, who often helped him out, began to wonder how they might slow the pace. She was 52 and he was 49. They were taking a trip to California, to visit me and help me update a newly purchased bungalow. We put in black and white kitchen floor tile (never do this unless you love scrubbing floors) and made other improvements.

    They drove out from Pennsylvania and they drove home. Days later, my dad woke up in a seizure. The ambulance was called. Doctors delivered the news. He had a brain tumor, and cancer killed him.

    If he was alive today, at 71, he’d still be driving his work van, pushing the hours of daylight.

    Just as my husband does in his mechanic shop, just as I have done in mine, getting up before dawn to set up an antiques show hours away.

    I hope I never have to work for someone else again, but I’ve come to see that a small business is like a backpack on a hike. It’s always there, and you know it. You feel the weight, and you relish the supplies inside. But it can hold a parachute to get you to where you want to go, or it can be a ticking time bomb that will lay you low.

    My husband and I have both come home worn by the irritations of the day, of dealing with people used to a Burger King world, people who want the best price and the job done now, shaving everything to the bone for themselves without a thought for how the small business person stays alive. The American Pickers have it right when they say: There has to be some meat on the bone!

A few years after opening my antiques shop, I went through what I’ll call the Year of Being Tested. One old lady sold me a load of negligible treasure, and then wanted it all back. I made a deal with a couple cleaning out, and their granddaughter accused me of thievery. I bought a large piece at a yard sale at the asking price, planning to pick it up later, and the seller resold it to someone else who told her it was worth more, and then accused me of taking advantage of her.

Used car salesmen, mechanics, antique dealers, not people, just a category of those who can’t be trusted.

The Bible tells us to count it all joy when we go through times of testing, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:3-4. Jeremiah 12:5 asks: If you’ve run with men and they’ve wearied you, how will you run with the horses?

During that Year of Being Tested, I learned: there’s plenty of stuff in the world. Stuff can go back. Provision still comes

I learned the importance of not bringing irritations home. Home was for refreshing, resting, getting away from work. It is not for taking out your grouse on your spouse.

“If you can’t deal with your industry without being ugly, then get out,” my husband told me.

Of course, I can say that to him a few dozen times a year also.

By telling you my dad’s story, I don’t mean to insinuate that being in business killed him. It was his dream and he loved it. But, if he was here today, he’d also say it consumed him, as it has all of us.

Many of us in rural America have to depend on our own ingenuity to create our job. My town alone has lost at least 500 jobs, if not more, in the last few years, with three major employers closing down. We have to get beyond being consumed by our business if we want to survive.

One key is learning how to deal with the stress of dealing with others. Because now, it won’t be your boss taking the flack, it will be you.

As a Christian, I take the hard times to prayer, asking for cleansing, endurance, and insight, and, yes, praying for those who despitefully use me. I had this saying on my desk during that hard year: “Be kinder than necessary for everyone is fighting some kind of battle.”

My hardest customers taught me to love the nicest ones. I am learning patience for all the tourist questions–even “What’s your best price?”

Writing this, I know that soon again I’ll be tested. But more than making money, I want to represent my God well in this world, to reveal that life is about more than getting for me. It is about taking time for the small moments. Stop your work van and savor some natural beauty for five minutes. Step back from the job and count your blessings. Take a moment before answering that complaint, breathe a prayer, and shed some pride.

We will all fail, but try again. Graces gives us patience to answer those same old questions, to make the deals, and then turn the key to head home and rest. Grace is what stops the time bomb from ticking.








This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Under the work load

  1. mkayla says:

    I always felt that people were the hardest to deal with in any job, far beyond any other task. They can also be the most delightful. Tho I have never been my own boss I admire your desire to mirror the love and image of Christ to those you meet in your day.

    Blessings and grace to you. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s