I thought my experience of toxic work situations were exceptions to the norm. After talking to quite a number of colleagues in tech from various companies, from big-techs to start-ups, it turns out that it is far more prevalent than people are willing to admit or talk about.
In one of the toxic episodes that I went through, to prevent others from taking things out of context, twisting my words to fit their gaslighting narratives, I would word-craft every word coming out of my mouth, took extra caution to prove-read all written exchanges multiple times. Those days got darker when colleagues declared that all intellectual properties belonged to the company that we all worked for, to openly normalize the sabotaging of other people's work, legitmizing taking other people's original ideas as their own, to bid for additional funding and resources.
Instead of investing my time and energy to productive work in flow states, I constantly overthought what I said, if I overshared, making my team vulnearble to be exploited. I kept questioning my decisions and the trade-offs that I made. I over-analyzed the colleagues whom I considered as 'takers', their why-s and the motives, fact-checking their over-glorious status report.
Not only I felt my own career was on the line, the outcome could affect the careers of everyone on my team. Needless to say, all these took a toll on my physical and emotional health. I thought I handled the stress and pressure well. But the reactions of my body were the most honest. My skin showed rashes that no doctor's prescribed oliment could help.
Each step along the way, I carefully inquired of the Lord, venting what I could not express nor say to another living soul, seeking His help. Then eventually came my ultimatum, I finally cried out, "Lord I want to quit. I can't take it any longer."
Just as I finished my cry, this picture (see below) came to mind. It was one of a dare-devil, holding a balance beam, walking on a wire that went from one tall building to another. Deep inside, I felt it was the Lord speaking to me through the Holy Spirit.
Philippe Petit's High-wire walk between the Twin Towers (AP Photo/Alan Welner) August 7, 2021
Feelings that I could not expressed adequately in words were instantly validated. Just like the dare-devil in the picture, in my situation, I felt that every step I took, I had to balance every aspect, from technical, business, to politics. A slightest mistake I made could plunge me to my death. I was holding my breath as I took the next step, with no confidence at all to make it to the other end. That was how I saw my situation in the natural realm. I felt so comforted being understood, knowing that the Lord knew.
Then I felt the Spirit nudged in a still small voice, saying, "yes, that is how you see yourself. But do you see the audience down below in the dark? Finish this walk for them because they are watching." I was taken by surprise. I was so self-absorbed with my wins and losses that I had no room in my heart for God's kingdom agenda in my situation. The audience down below was completely out of my horizon of attention.
I was so self-absorbed with my wins and losses that I had no room in my heart for God's kingdom agenda for my situation.
I stayed long enough until the end of the episode, when all moves were played. Though the outcome did not turn out as I preferred, despite the excellence and due diligience of our work, we lost the project to the other team, I was at peace with no regret.
A few years later after our team moved on to different jobs, to different companies, we had a reunion. One of my then direct report excitedly shared that she became a Christian shortly after we went our separate ways. There were other things that the Holy Spirit was working in her life before she took such a consequential step, of giving her life to Jesus Christ. Then she said, paraphrasing, "I was captivated by how you walked through those dark days by trusting God, making me wonder that may be God is real, triggering my hunger to resume my pursuit of Him." I was stunned. I could die happy after hearing her story. Only until I get to heaven would I know if there are other similar stories untold.
I finally gain more understanding that what is seen in this world is temporary and will pass away. Only what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
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