I feel as though as I have passed some unspoken barrier. I don’t know what it is, but I felt it this afternoon while working.

I suddenly felt free again. Smiling, almost happy, joyful, yet silent in my work. Just my thoughts, me, a cordless drill, and some other tools, fashioning something beautiful.

It had been a while since I was able to do this, having to manage a crew of six people. That crew is now four. Two are no longer with us. I had to make the decision, and although I am saddened by having to them go, it was something I should have done a while ago. Instead, I tried to hang on, I tried to give repeated chances, over and over, being willing to believe any excuse, so long as I didn’t have to tell them they shouldn’t come back to work tomorrow. I do not know how executives do it all of the time, this hiring and firing. It is a distasteful job, having to make the decision about who works and who doesn’t.

In the last five days, I have had to let two people go, as I said before. I won’t slander them by telling you what was wrong. The decision was agonized over, for weeks, and it was making me really something of an ogre. I was angry, short-tempered, and not very much myself.

Today, for the first time in weeks, I prayed while working again. I talked with God, pleading with Him, asking Him to help me to understand freedom again. I have been bound by my own desire to be nice to everyone, to keep giving chances, and this all caused stress beyond what I could bear.

This afternoon, I laughed at work. I actually picked up tools, and DID something, rather than running around trying make certain everyone had direction. Today I worked.

There is a reason I love my job, besides being able to design and build things. I love my job because it has stress relief built right in. For example, I spent the better part of four hours straightening and plumbing (vertically leveling) a door that had been set months ago, and had drywall installed around it already. Why was this door not straight? Don’t know.

The point is, for these four hours, it was me against the door. I knew I would win, not because I am arrogant. I knew I would win because I refused to fail. My stress level was high when I took this door on, and as the first hour waned, it was even higher. Nothing I did worked.

But sometime between the third and fourth hour, new hope was ignited within me. Maybe it was prayer, maybe it was once again realizing the grace of God, and being forgiven because I can’t hold jobs forever for people who don’t want to work. I felt guilty, as if I had caused the reason for the two men to be let go. I searched my mind as I was working, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong with these two guys. And as I worked with the door, a strange parallel formed.

I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong with this door, so many months before, when I realized I hadn’t installed this door, and I was fixing someone else’s mistake. Immediately, the stress left me, and the joy of simple work returned. The parallel swirled around in my mind, and became a circle, complete with understanding that it wasn’t my guilt to own, not for the door, and not for the two men I had to let go.

I had been blaming myself, almost punishing myself, and there was no freedom in sight. I guess some prisons we spend time in are prisons of our own making. I am free tonight, and it feels wonderful. Welcome back to my home, you all.

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