Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, Johnny Depp and Tina Turner. These were a few of the names that people mentioned when we were asked an ice breaker question in a large group meeting last week.
If stranded on a desert island, name one historic and one more current person you would want to be on the island with you.
I knew my “historic” person would be the most popular answer and by the time it was my turn it would just look like I was copying other people. I was sitting at the edge of the room and my turn was one of the last. To my surprise, nobody in the room had come up with the person I was planning on saying. Excited about this, when my turn came, I proudly stood up, introduced myself and stated:
If stranded on a desert island, I would want Jesus to be there. And Amy Schumer.
You could almost hear a pin drop. Quickly, the next person took their turn. I sat there, a bit confused. I thought people would have basically applauded once hearing my answer and kicked themselves for not saying the same. Not only would it just be beyond words incredible to meet Jesus on this desert island, but he could also very likely get us off the island.
Or, at least provide some wine and food.
Later that day, I discovered what the “problem” was with my answer. I was sitting in yet another meeting and someone threw out a swear word while talking about a stressful situation.
I work in Human Resources for a large company. We are all adults. If someone swears once in awhile, it’s not going to even phase me. Yet, when this person said that word all eyes looked at me. At first, I assumed it was because I am their HR rep and sometimes they joke with me about being on their best behavior when I am around. But then, it happened. I realized it was not my HR status that caused people to cringe when this swear word went flying. It was my Christian status. Those people had all been in the earlier meeting when I said the J word – Jesus.
It didn’t even phase me to say I wanted Jesus on that island with me. But it certainly phased others. I had no idea when I gave my response how bold of an answer it was. Obviously I could not be the only person in that room that followed Jesus. Why was the J word a “scary” one to use? People that I see five days a week and whom I have strong working relationships with made comments to me that week about it. Questions around what church I attended, if I was offended by profanity and so on. It was quite eye opening.
There was one thing I did to ensure they knew I was not suddenly some delicate porcelain co-worker:
I changed nothing.
I continued being the human that I am. I make mistakes, I laugh, I struggle, I vent, I sometimes swear in frustration. I also strive to respect people and show them grace. I believe that over the few days following that icebreaker question, people began to see that my using the J word at work was not a scary thing. It didn’t mean I was somehow a different person than I had been days before. Once this was realized, perhaps they were more intrigued by the fact that I would put Amy Schumer on the same island with Jesus. Now that would be interesting.
Have you ever said the J word at work? Did it cause a reaction like it did for me? Do you struggle with feeling like you have to stray away from bringing religion into the work place? I’d love to hear your story!