Diagnosis normally precedes a prescription for healing. Before working on the cure for not being in an office, let’s explore a diagnostic grid.
In the story of Hagar I find eight markers for what it looks like to live a life without being in an office. Let’s express them in such a way that they become portable across cultures. That should help us distill out this particular malady from all the other labels and liabilities we have discovered over the last few decades of the inner healing movement.
1) Utter Innocence
Hagar, the Egyptian, begins the story as a slave. Scripture does not say whether a slave trader brought her to Canaan where Abraham found her or whether she was purchased when Abraham was in Egypt.
Either way, it is most probable that Hagar was innocent of doing anything that put her in that situation. It is unlikely that she choose to sell herself into slavery. It is most likely that she was born into slavery.
And if she was purchased in Egypt, then we can add the fact that it was not her fault that Abraham choked on the promises of God and left the land he was assigned to for the ill-fated sojourn into Egypt.
It is my experience that people who are not in an office they should be in, find themselves caught up in bizarre situations where they truly are innocent, but they can’t help themselves. It seems to have a little different look and feel than the usual victim spirit scenarios.
In the classic victim spirit dynamic, the person has a mental structure that can explain why it is right for things to be wrong. To at least some small degree, they are contributing to being in their own mess, or at least not taking steps to exit the mess.
But when an individual is not in an office they should be in, life seems to happen to them in utterly uncontrollable ways. They are caught in the cross fire of other people’s junk and are unable to escape.
2. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Regardless of how Hagar became a slave or where she was purchased, it seems that she was a functional asset because of her own investment in herself. She either knew how to work hard or knew how to work smart. Either way, it was her excellence at something that drew Abraham’s attention, and it was her excellence that got her assigned to the highly sensitive post of being Sarai’s personal maid.
Less excellent slaves did more menial tasks, further away from the inner sanctum of the personal needs of the boss.
Again, people who are not in the appropriate office tend to strive for excellence in some area, as a subconscious means of achieving the status and acceptance they crave. And just as often, their excellence without an office causes them to end up in really harsh situations where they have unreasonable responsibilities because of their excellence, yet an appalling lack of rights, because of their lack of office.
3) Fulfillment Denied
When one is in the office of woman, after being in the offices of person, daughter and adult, the offices of wife, mother and grandmother should follow. This is a part of a woman’s sense of fulfillment. However, since Hagar was a slave, possibly not even fully in the office of person, she had no control over that progression.
It was quite common for slaves to have a mate and to procreate. I know nothing of the culture of slavery in Abraham’s days to know whether the master selected a spouse for those he owned and there was something relatively formal or legitimate about the marriage, or not.
Suffice it to say that whether the coming together in a family unit was fluid or formal, primitive or beautiful, initiated by the slave or the master, at the end of the day, nothing at all happened for Hagar. She was quite evidently physically an adult and capable of stepping into those offices, but her master did nothing at all to move her, or allow her to move herself, toward fulfillment.
One of the marks of not being in the office you should be in, is that there is no progress toward fulfillment. Whatever the social code around you is, it does not seem to apply to you. Whether it depends on your initiative or the initiative of others, you are simply powerless to move forward and progress toward fulfillment.
4. Fruitfulness Demanded
This is called “adding insult to injury.” After Hagar was denied fulfillment in the roles of woman, wife and mother, she was commanded to be fruitful without those offices, whether she felt like it or not.
It intrigues me as I watch the double standard that applies to people without an office. While people with a victim spirit are often asked to do more with less, the individuals without an office are almost invariably ordered to be fruitful in areas that other people are never able to be.
There is no logic at all to the constructs. And the non-office holder simply cannot protest, appeal, negotiate or point out the injustice. There is an acute need that an authority cannot fill on his own, so therefore, by some twisted logic of this parallel universe that the non-office holders live in, it is obvious to everyone that they MUST do what their boss cannot do.
Further, the alternative rule system is fully comprehended by all the bystanders. When there is the familiar strain of victimization, people around the predator/victim can usually see the unwholesome dynamic. The community usually does not intervene, but they see it.
With the non-office holders, somehow the whole community is mesmerized into thinking that it is the most natural, normal, appropriate scenario for that individual to do what is required of no one else.
Let’s park it there for this blog. The next four steps to follow some time.
Copyright September 2011 by Arthur Burk
From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim