warrior

Workplace Woes

Sydney Jung - Ezer + Co.

Sydney Jung

Guest Post

There have been many moments in my four years of post-grad working that I have felt like I was not fairly treated. As a property manager, you deal with a lot of people. And a lot of these people want to challenge authority...especially from a young female. I've dealt with tenants who felt that because of their sex and age that I should be cutting them a break or that the rules don't apply. Or, that for some odd reason, they are the exception to every rule listed in their Lease Agreement (which is a legal document, mind you). I've been talked down to and treated unequally. I have also experienced unfair pay. At one point in my previous job, I was given a male assistant manager whose starting pay was significantly higher than what I received when I started only one year earlier. Then my new male supervisor was making double my salary even though he contributed less than five hours a week at our building.

In my current job, I was initially hired as the assistant property manager. But, instead of being treated as an assistant manager, I was treated like the assistant to the General Manager by the GM himself. Here I experienced another case where I was doing the majority of the work and often found myself putting in extra hours (early morning and long nights). Meanwhile, the GM would skip days, stroll in late, and leave early for "business meetings".

Now, I know a lot of this may sound like I am trying to point the finger at someone or complain. And honestly, yes, part of it is. But what I've learned is that I should not be blaming the individuals mentioned in my stories, but rather the culture that has normalized this. It is something that should be talked about instead of swept under the rug or suppressed.

I am proud to say that in the last year I was promoted and have managed a 270 unit apartment building and staff of 6 on my own. I am fortunate enough to work for a female-owned company where almost half of the company is female. The world of real estate is a male-dominated field, but I see before my eyes steps towards change and women taking charge.

I have worked hard and will continue to do so. That means taking on extra tasks, putting in lots of extra hours, and learning as much as I can. It may not all seem fair now, but my hope is that each day and each story gets us closer to being on a level playing field.

Yes to Me

Kelly Skiles - Ezer + Co.

Kelly Skiles

Guest Post

I grew up in the era of Queen Oprah. Five days a week, Oprah had amazing guests (I remember when Alicia Keys came on as a teenager), gave people makeovers, and talked about social issues that were important to people, especially women. Over and over and often the refrain was that women had no time to take care of themselves, and be themselves. They were too busy caring for others.

As a late teenager turning into an adult, I could not understand what the problem was. “Just do it!” I would think to myself. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first” as the metaphor goes. I had the gift in that season of being totally preoccupied with myself, serving at my church, shopping, working out, being with my friends, working jobs that I loved and didn’t feel like work. I was young and naïve, and I don’t fault that younger version of myself for it. What an incredible season.

Fifteen-ish years later, I want to call Queen Oprah and say, “I get it now!”

Putting the oxygen mask on myself is hard. My ministry to my family and my church and finishing grad school demands my attention without apology, and I’m more than happy to give it. At the end of the literal and figurative day, the margin for just myself is a very thin sliver that I often don’t have the energy to explore.

In this season, to be a warrior means to choose Me (capitalization intended):

  • to war against the temptation to keep giving more from a place that is empty and disconnected from God, the very source of life

  • to war against the guilt that lies to me and says that I should choose to be with my family in every moment I’m not at work

  • to war against all that is secondary and blocks the way of me recognizing a good emptiness within me that can only be filled with God

  • to war against choosing chores because I can cross them off my list when I need to check in with myself

I know full well that the best version of myself includes choosing Me even though sometimes I have to pry kids off my legs with their big tears to do so. It’s always worth it in the end.

In this season, being a warrior is saying yes to Me.

Slaying Dragons

Anneke Coetzee - Ezer + Co.

Anneke Coetzee

A Guest Post

On this Good Friday, may these words root you more deeply into the profundity of what happened on this day over 2000 years ago…


But there is an unstoppable hope
Echoing through the realm of past and time
Straight into my future.
My family’s future
Breathing courage directly into my veins
And as I rise up,
His armor covers me
And His words speaks life to my weak bones

As it did a long time ago
When a prophet stood
at the Valley of Dry Bones
And with His breath...it came to life

Standing here in my own Valley of Dry Bones
I begin to feel Him breathe unstoppable hope
Into my broken life
as I start speaking His words of truth
into the face of dragons
Dragons that came storming from the past
Ready to kill, steal and destroy
Waiting for moments of weakness
to overtake us and devour our future
Murder our dreams
Destroy our unions
Strangle our children’s hope
so they will believe the lie
of a fatherless generation

Trying to let us cry out
Words of defeat:
“Where in the world can you
And your wide-eyed children
Find someone
who will just choose to stay.”

But as the enemy’s words
starts to echo in my ears
I raise up a standard against him
as he spats out words of decimation.

But I raise this sword
which is Your word
And I cling to this shield of faith
As I charge forward through rough places
with feet fitted with the gospel of peace
As I guard my heart with this breastplate of righteousness that keeps me pure
The helmet of salvation covers my head
And I will not be tempted with meaningless lies
Because Your belt of truth
Protects me and Keeps me together

I will not take any prisoners
but will slay this dragon
and destroy him
with the blood of the cross
covering my family
Walking in victory
blood soaked by His love and grace

You God are my defense
you prepare a table for me
in the presence of my enemies
You will never leave nor forsake me

A War Won Within Herself

Maribel Toan - Ezer + Co.

Maribel Toan

A Guest Post

Women are some of the most powerful warriors. There are usually many powerful women behind communities that have gone through some positive transformation. It’s in our nature to love, to nurture, and create sacred spaces around us that we see superpower kick in. For me, the perfect example that I refer back to in God’s word is Abigail. 

She was a warrior, not in the physical but in a spiritual and emotional sense. She must have fought a lot of giants within her to go before a powerful man (David) that was about to destroy her community. She was wise. She came with all the humility and declared truth. She was on her knees reminding David of his identity. All this must have come from a place of victory, a war she won within herself. I can imagine some of the voices she heard: “You are crazy. You are going to die. You are a fool, just like your husband. Who do you think you are?”

I imagine that she fought back and said to those giants of fear and unbelief, “I don’t care. I am going to do this, even if I have to die.”

This is where the power is: When you roar back to those giants within you!

I know I have had to do this so many times. I’ve felt the most powerful when I choose to die to self, when I choose all the humility I could rack up and ask for forgiveness, when I put everything on the line to take one more step of healing. That is when God comes and empowers; it’s in a place of surrender, a place where God’s perfect love takes all fears away!

Sisu

Brooklyn Lindsey - Ezer + Co.

Brooklyn Lindsey

There was a season in my life when I lost an ability to fight for me. If you’re done fighting you, then you’re done fighting for everyone. Warriors can’t be warriors without a fight in their spirit, and mine was nearly gone.

It’s not easy to describe that lonely place but I remember some of what lead to it…

  • trauma triggers

  • plot twists

  • transitions

  • betrayal

  • the worst feedback loops

  • extra travel

  • toxicity in circles of people I longed to trust

  • organizational politics

  • misogynistic decisions in places where equality was meant to lead us

  • relationship challenges

  • loss of identity

  • auto-immune disease

  • fear

All of this was happening in the middle of what looked to be a pretty “successful” life and ministry. I’d created the job of my dreams and worked with beloved humans around the world. It was everything while I was feeling nothing.

I oscillated between feelings of overwhelming gratitude to places of anger and hurt. It was a scary place and I wondered if maybe I was crazy?

In the middle of the waiting in the deepest valley, God whispered a verse to me through a series of tangential events (a Christina Perry song, a yes to therapy, a couple who offered their home as a sanctuary in Georgia, rare alone time to think).

Zephaniah 3:20, “At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.”

There’s a lot more context within this verse, but in that moment it was clear to me that God was going to do a work in my life that I hadn’t experienced before, one that required that I stand up again. From a place of face down in the dirt to a place of standing up in the dirt, I could feel hope growing. The hope of home.A home that exists beyond circumstances and job descriptions.

I listened. Slowly, I began to grow. I felt blood in my veins again. I could see “home” becoming an echo quieting the fear and pain caused by lies and hurt. I learned about nature, about healing, about parts of my heritage that I hadn’t known before. In the learning I came across a word that describes the whole-hearted living I longed to return to.

Only Finns truly know and feel and fully get this, but I am grateful for the ways they have shared their courage with others and offered us a view into a way of life that words can only begin to describe.

Brooklyn Lindsey - Sisu

It’s a Finnish word: SISU

More than a word – it’s a national quality, a fight within, an inner grit.

GRIT is what I needed; stamina was what I had run out of and needed desperately.

God was showing me what home looked like, no matter what country, city, relationship, job, valley, mountaintop, or place in between I found myself.

I didn’t find out until a few years later that my bloodline traces back to Northern Europe, to places where people refined their character while standing up again after every defeat.

Finland had an ability to overcome countries much larger than they were—through a communal quality that said “I am because you are”. I hear my African friends crying “UBUNTU”in a similar dream.

On a day in October during this lonely season, I felt Jesus saying in Aramaic, “Talitha Koum”, translated “little girl, ARISE”. Come back from the dead. You are free and you are home.

I scribbled the idea for the tattoo on a napkin in the tattoo shop with my own uneven handwriting. I asked God to remind me of the stability and whole-hearted life that is available through Jesus.

A whole heart. Sisu.

Red: the color of fire and blood. It’s the color of energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination, as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is emotionally intense. It’s living. Just looking at the color red can shift human metabolism, increases your respiration rate, and raise your blood pressure. The tattoo artist drew the outline of the heart that I had drawn. He asked, “do you want me to fill the whole thing in?”

I paused. Because pain. But only for a second. “Fill it in. I want a whole heart."

I want red to be the color I see, the color that reminds me of who I am, and the blood that was spent fighting for my life, the blood that flows through my veins so I can fight for mine.

While traveling in Indonesia for work some time after this experience, someone from Fiji commented on my tattoo.

“Does your tattoo say JISU?!”

“It says SISU, what is JISU?!”

“JISU is what we call JESUS in Fiji.”

Across the world, with people I had just met, a dam of tears broke and I was smiling.

The young woman beside me gently touched my shoulder and added her thoughts,

“I am from Korea and JI-SU is the name given to Jesus. It seems like you may know Jesus very well? I am just remembering Jesus because I am sitting here with you. I see JISU in you. I see so much kindness and feel home even while I’m so far away."

Circumstances that lead to the need for tenacious grit became my compass that turns my head, heart, thoughts, and prayers to Jesus.

Warriors, find your Sisu.

Know that Jesus, even in your weakness, will help you find the flicker of hope you need to hold strong and stand tall, dirt and all.

Sisu, my sisters, sisu.