In my second week of training at a call center, a customer berated me. What he was upset about, I don’t even remember, but the company sold athletic shoes and apparel. Nothing worth belittling another human being over.
I looked to passing trainers for help, but the caller insisted I not put him on hold to discuss the situation with someone who would have a solution, so I felt like I couldn’t. (I was eighteen, sensitive, and a rule-follower. What can I say?) The trainers didn’t understand what I was dealing with or how much it was getting to me until I was in tears.
At that point, they rescued me from him, told me to put him on hold even though he insisted I not do so, and I was excused to go outside the call center to collect myself.
As I sat, getting my emotional feet back under me, one of the head trainers came out. His pep talk went like this: “This job isn’t for everyone.”
The implication, of course, was that the job wasn’t for me.
If you’re a dreamer of any kind or striving for anything challenging, you’ve heard this, too. Maybe not in these words, but definitely with this underlying meaning.
Looking back now, I suspect the trainers took over the terrible caller and resolved it easily enough. They probably knew better than to let the man boss them around. They probably thought I should’ve known better, too. In retrospect, I imagine the man was among the worst of my customers simply because I didn’t know how to handle him, and he took full advantage of that.
Somehow, though, in the midst of my teary weakness, I mustered the self-confidence to tell the trainer I could do this job. I insisted. I went back to work.
Four years later, I applied for and landed a supervisor job in that same call center. In that position, I was exposed to a whole new level of upset callers—the ones who asked to speak to a supervisor. The skills I’d gained had to develop to new heights fast. And yes, one caller does stick out from that time period, too, as one I should’ve handled differently. But, again, I learned. I grew. And thankfully, that time, no one told me to quit.
A few years after that, I became the person the call center manager left in charge when he left, meaning I’d end up with calls the other supervisors couldn’t handle. After that, I changed companies to manage a call center myself, and I handled the callers who were asking to speak to the president of the company.
I’m telling you this not because this is the greatest achievement, but to assure you that those who say “this job isn’t for everyone” can be wrong about you just like that trainer was wrong about me.
But I’m glad he underestimated me and wanted to give me an easy out because it trained me to be more sure of what I want and my ability to achieve it by God’s empowerment. So that, through years of writing rejections and setbacks, which basically told me that writing isn’t for everyone (implying writing isn’t for me), I could remain steadier.
In part because of that call center experience, I believe, sometimes through tears, that I can do this job. I can survive in this tough writing business.
You can, too. You do not have to take the easy out discouragers want you to take.
Those discouragers stand there, holding the door open to let you and me to walk out on our dreams and goals for good. They would cheer us through. They’d think of dissuading us as a favor. The longer they go on, the more we begin to wonder: are they underestimating us, or are we overestimating ourselves?
Let’s shut the door they want to push us through. This job of walking by faith along the narrow path toward God’s call on our lives isn’t for everyone–but it is for us.
In addition to being narrow, the path we’re on is long. It does not lead in the straight line we wish for because God has purpose in the curves and the rocky cliffs. We do not ever have all the skills we need to make it. All of life, all of dreaming, is a learning and growing process. But in our weakness, our Savior is strong.
But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9, NET
He is patient, and He teaches us everything we need to know. He clothes us in his armor and He empowers us to be more than conquerors.
Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed. Hebrews 12:11-13, NET
It is by clinging to God that we quiet those doubts, mute the voices of the discouragers, and shut the doors on giving up when we’re called to persevere. Through endurance and faith, we achieve peace and righteousness. We are healed.
Listen to what Jesus is telling you about yourself, about your ability, about his call on your life. Tighten your fingers on the dreams He’s given you, and fight for them.
Fight through the tears, believe through the discouragements, follow your Savior through the valleys until He shows you the path to the mountain tops.
Very encouraging post, Emily! Thanks for the reminder to keep pursuing the dreams God's given us, no matter how many discouragements we face.
Thanks for reading and pausing to comment, Jerusha! Yes, sometimes those discouragements just seem to line up, don't they? But that doesn't change that God is bigger 🙂
Such a great post, Emily!
I can't imagine working at a call center, since I'm a phone-introvert. I thought I was the only one until I happened on the subject with Karen Witemeyer at the ACFW conference last week. Picking up the phone to make a call to someone other than my family makes my hand shake. Who knew that was a thing? 🙂 Thank you for sharing this encouragement!
Believe it or not, calling someone still makes my heart kick up a notch (or five, depending on who it is and for what). I was very, very nervous to start taking calls in the call center (most people are!), but it did become routine. Maybe it's my call center background that makes me more comfortable if someone calls me than if I have to call someone else–I only worked in incoming call centers, no cold calls. Regardless, you're definitely not the only one! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks for this post, Emily. It's so encouraging. Writing is a hard business. I had no idea just how hard when I first started. It's so good to remember we're not alone in it.
I'm glad the post was helpful! Yes, it is hard, but I love how supportive the writing community–especially other writers–can be, and of course, we can always rely on Jesus.
Really appreciated your story and this outlook, Emily. I love reading the real and raw of life. It makes me a little less scared in my own situation. God grows us through the sharing I truly believe. Thanks!
I agree–God really does grow us when we're open to growing together by sharing our experiences. So glad you stopped by today!