Lights. Camera. Action. On an empty stage, one spotlight shines on a single mop bucket, a thoroughly used mop sits in the fresh soapy water. In comes our hero. She’s dressed in black jeans and her gray work polo, the left side reading one term, janitorial.
It was just a job, sure, but it felt like more than that to her. She was on a mission as she wrung the water from the mop into the bucket and then took to mopping the floors. As she swayed left to right, her keys jingled at her pocket, knocking against each other with a subtle clash. Her radio was on her other side, and she could hear everything that broadcasted on channel 7.
No. It wasn’t just a job. It was more than simply mopping floors, vacuuming halls, flushing toilets, and wiping mirrors— it was more complicated than that. There was more to our hero’s story than simply changing toilet paper when it got too low.
*Lights slowly fade to black as the janitor disappears*
This summer, I have had the amazing opportunity to work at the YMCA of the Rockies while attending Leadership Training through Reliant Ministries. For the first week, I started to work in Housekeeping, and it was physically demanding and left me feeling exhausted at the end of the day. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself during my short time in housekeeping— I loved it. Making beds and cleaning toilets was a new adventure, and each day God gave me the strength to get through every hour from eight until four thirty, sometimes five o’clock. Aside from that, I was simply happy just to be able to spend my summer in the Rocky Mountains at all, especially after the difficult time I had getting a job. It wasn’t what I had originally had in mind, but as one of my greatest friends and mentors once said, “it might not be your plan A, but it’s been God’s plan A from the moment you applied.” Those words have stuck with me since she told me them in mid-April. Back then, there was a part of me that didn’t believe I would make it out here.
I got the job working in janitorial at the start of my second week in Estes Park. I can’t say I was exactly thrilled about working as a janitor, but I will admit, calling myself The Janitor in the third person to myself (and admittedly out loud sometimes) had something of a ring to it. I knew from the start of my first day in janitorial that I would love this job. I loved the sense of accomplishment I received from helping people out by cleaning the bathrooms in public spaces, and I loved the feeling I felt after knocking on a door saying, “Guest Services!” It was great knowing that I helped someone have an amazing experience at the Y, even if it was as small as delivering a fan to a guest on a hot day.
I might just be a janitor, mopping up messes in the administration building, but God is the real Janitor, cleaning up a big mess in the administration building of my body; my heart.
Despite the work I’ve been doing at the Y, God has been doing an even greater work in me, and is teaching me a lot about who He is, and who I am because of Him. The first and most major, thing God’s helped me realize is that I am not a process person. In other words, I like to eat the cookies, but I don’t like to make the dough. He revealed to me things about my life that I hadn’t realized I had been avoiding, and though it was difficult, God has helped me walk through the pain every day. I learned that life doesn’t get easier as you get older, in fact, it gets harder. And that’s hard to hear in itself because no one wants to hear that it gets worse from here. However, in that difficult realization, I received something great from God; the difficult might not suddenly become easy, but God helps make the process of getting through the difficult easy. Jesus says in Matthew verses 28 and 29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Something that I think a lot Christians get wrong is that God never said we wouldn’t go through hard times; but (and as demonstrated in the verse above) He did say that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. That verse constantly reminds me that God never said [or implied] that we wouldn’t struggle, but He did promise that we would never go through it alone. He promised He would always help us out in that. In the difficult-ness of life, God showed me how the process can be good; making the dough, though strenuous as it is, can produce something sweet like a cookie, or in my case, healing.
In many ways, I think, I considered the healing process a bad thing, and that’s why I avoided it like the plague. This brings me to a popularly known story in the Bible; the story of Jonah. In summary, God told this man named Jonah to journey to Nineveh and tell them to stop being prideful and heathenish, but Jonah was highkey afraid of Nineveh (because they were wicked), so instead of obeying the Lord, he finds himself on a ship and eventually in the belly of a whale. After a whole chapter of praying, Jonah decides to go to Nineveh as originally planned. When he arrives, he starts to preach the Word that God gave him. Nineveh totally hears the Word and changes its ways immediately, the Bible said that even the cows repented, and, naturally, God forgives Nineveh because of His love for them [us] is unrelenting. This kind of ticks Jonah off even though God told him that he had no right to be angry. In the end, God asked Jonah if He should not have such a high concern for Nineveh because they were so helpless.
The moral of the story was that God l o v e s His kiddos relentlessly because the Truth is we don’t know our left hand from our right hand (Jonah ch.4, v.11). The story of Jonah beckons one overwhelming question to its readers: are we okay that God loves our enemies in the same way that He loves us?
Something God revealed to me was that throughout the last few months I’ve been refusing to do His Will, and therefore wound up in the belly of a whale. When I arrived in Colorado, God revealed to me my own Nineveh— the fact that I don’t allow myself to heal, and I needed to go to a place of healing that I had been avoiding for several months. In that place of healing, I found myself in the midst of a grieving process, and for a long time I was incredibly angry and frustrated that God could love someone who hurt people in the way that I’d been hurt. That’s when God led me to the book of Jonah and asked me the same question He asked the prophet; should I [God] not have compassion toward Nineveh? Am I okay with God loving my enemies?
I won’t lie, friends, initially, I was not okay with that. I still feel the weight of my hurt like a million and ten bricks on my chest, so I thought I was justified by my pain. And then I thought of Jesus. I thought of my Sin. I thought of the pain I have caused other people, and that’s something not many of us like to think about. In fact, most of us hate when we’re confronted with the pain we’ve inflicted onto others. So when I thought of Jesus, my best Pal, hanging on a cross, bearing the weight of every single Sin, I felt my heart break for the first time in my entire life. God let me know through my friends that the pain I was experiencing was not my fault, and I had every right to feel how I was feeling. However, in that pain, I don’t have a right to withhold forgiveness, and just like Jonah, my anger is not justified by my pain. Jesus didn’t do what He did for me and me alone; He did it for everyone.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to read Jonah’s response to God at the end of the book, but I don’t believe we were ever meant to know what he said. I think it ended at the right time, with God asking us that heavy, weighted question.
Friend, I leave you with the same question that our good Father asked Jonah, and asked me; are you okay with God loving your enemies?
It’s been hard with capital H, friends, and it’s been a relentless journey through pain, anger, guilt, and frustration, but in the healing process, I’ve only come to one conclusion.
I’m okay with it. In fact, I’m so okay with it, I want to follow His example. I want to love my enemies, even when it’s Hard.
He does good things with hard things.
I challenge you, reader, make the journey to your Nineveh. Love your enemies, and be okay with God loving them too.