Once we are school aged we are often aware that there are some things we need to do to fit in. Some of those are fine things to require. There is a place for order.
Some people comply and “fit in” more easily than others and that has always been the case for any number of reasons. It always depends on the “group” needs and goals. As we get older and enter the work force we typically want to fit into the work culture yet also stand out in a way that shows our contributions are unique and beneficial to the team.
There is a delicate balance to fitting in yet standing out.
But don’t be too surprised when the qualities, strengths, and perspectives that comprise you are not appreciated by everyone. If you are in a work environment that does not appreciate integrity and honesty, you might need an exit strategy. If you volunteer for an agency that asks you to compromise your core values, find a better fit. If you serve on a church board that does not behave in a healthy way, step away. While it is true you can change a system from the inside, it cannot be done singlehandedly. Sometimes the culture of a system is unhealthy and fighting against something so ingrained is like beating your head against a wall.
But don’t forget to look inward and evaluate if you are being too hard-nosed about things that may not really matter. Even though we may be wired a bit differently and may approach a task differently than the next person, it can be a matter of preference. And the difference in approach is what makes life and relationships interesting.
If you know someone who is working hard not to compromise their core values, be supportive by praying for a better fit for them. Be willing to listen as they process and brainstorm. Give them the gifts of encouragement and laughter and unconditional love.
On the Road,
Recently, Don and I traveled 5500+ miles together. We all over in the southwest United States… in the country, in small towns, in the mountains, and in several large cities. We were in places where there were many people and cars and also places where we rarely saw a person or house. We also experienced quite a variation in air quality.
When I am out in nature and it is a beautiful sunny day, I just want to take a deep breath. The crisp, clean air is so refreshing. But I really don’t love to head toward a city where there is a layer of smog. Once you are “in town” you might not notice it but it is very obvious from a few miles away that the air quality is compromised. Who wants to breathe that in?
There are places that have a toxic environment and it isn’t about the physical air quality but involves an unhealthy spiritual atmosphere.
Have you been in a place where creativity is discouraged? Manipulative behavior is common? Glad-handing and flattery are ever present? Responsibility is shirked? Incompetence is rewarded? Or an elephant is in the living room but everyone is too afraid to mention it?
Sometimes it is the result of a person or two who come in and are “allowed” to change the atmosphere. Other times it is entrenched in the culture of the institution. The family or workplace lost its health somewhere along the way.
Polluted air can impact your physical health. A toxic home or work environment can also take a toll on your physical heath…and emotional health…and spiritual health. But what do you do with it when you are aware of it?
The most important thing to do is pray!
- Pray for your own spiritual protection and the spiritual protection of others involved.
- Pray for others to come to an awareness of the unhealthy atmosphere.
- Consider how you contribute to the health of the system and pray for a healthier contribution.
- If you are sucked in, BACK UP! Take a good look at what is going on.
- Ask others for their insight. You might be overreacting but you also might be onto something.
- Pray about your involvement overall.
- If you have to maintain some connection, pray about your level of engagement.
Heavenly Father ~ Help me discern how I contribute to unhealthy environments by either getting sucked in or staying silent on the sidelines. Give me courage to behave in healthy ways. Amen.
On the Road,