On Wednesday, I attended the Spirituality and Theology of Work Retreat Day at our Conference and Retreat Center. When I arrived, it was crowded, but I spotted an empty chair in the back corner. I asked one of the ladies sitting at the table if that seat was open. She smiled and nodded. As I sat down, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know any of these ladies and was hoping it wouldn’t be awkward. We listened to Dr. Lisa talk about how we can incorporate Christ in some of the smaller tasks during the workday. We were then told to have a group discussion about how we can accomplish this in our offices. One of the ladies to my left shared that she believes we are there to serve people and wash each other’s feet just as Jesus did. “And I have been doing it for 52 years,” she said. That remark floored me. I came to find that all the ladies at that table had remained in their positions at the Diocese of Owensboro for at least 20 years and up.
These days, most people stay at a job for five years at most and then move on to the next opportunity. I asked the lady to my left why she has chosen to stay working in the Diocese for so long and she said, “I truly love my job and the people I work with. When you work for the Church, you are not in it for the money, you are in it for the connections you form.” This is something I can relate to on a professional level. For me, what makes my job special is the people I am surrounded by each day. The encouragement from the Sisters is also a huge part of what motivates me through each week.
Also, this woman’s commitment and work ethic is something that I aspire to have. Today, she is still working at 70-years-old and she is vibrant and outgoing as ever. I asked her what her secret is to working for so long and she said, “Smile all the time and even when you are mad, make sure still smile and then you will trick yourself into believing that you are happy.” I am so glad I decided to step out of my comfort zone that day. By the end of the retreat, all of us at the table were laughing like we were old friends. They even hugged me to say goodbye when it was time to part ways.
So, the moral of the story is—don’t be afraid to approach a stranger. Everyone has a story that can move you. You never know who you will meet, what you can learn and how you can be inspired.