UNFILTERED #5: We're work friends (tbh I want something more)
David is a regular at Headstart whose eagle eye relates not only to his uncanny vision (he doesn't wear glasses and he's an Asian worker), but also his uncanny humour (he once called Mark Leong babyface when introducing him at Headstart - the irony being, a graduate just thought David was even younger. Being Korean, we openly wonder if this is because of "the" 10 step beauty skin routine). David brings the spice in this summary of Unfiltered #5: We're work friends (tbhI want something more).
Note to Editor: Does the Headstart blog support emojis? If so, can we add something appropriate as the intro?
Editor’ Note: Can do. What do you think of three fire emojis?
Note to Editor: Add a chilli in between each and you’ve got a deal
The final week of Term 3 at Headstart saw the SPICIEST topic coming last - Office Romance. Truly in the theme of Unfiltered (our overarching theme this term), Mark Leong laid out the realities of Office Romance and how the Bible deals with it.
The realities are stark - the stats say that 1/3 office workers have been or are in an office-based romance. Even heavier, 1/5 office workers engaging in these office relationships are in committed relationships. That means it's basically certain you'll work with people that will cheat, or be cheated on, due to office romances. Some of these, by the numbers, will be Christian.
WHY DOES OFFICE ROMANCE HAPPEN?
By all accounts, whether you've felt it or not, the PULL of romance is immensely strong once it takes hold. It's so strong that it can override all of the common sense in your brain. The voice saying, "you're in a relationship gets overridden", the voice saying "the colleague is not a Christian" gets overridden and the voice saying "they work in audit, what intelligent non-work conversation can we have?" gets overridden too. Why does this happen?
Using the collective brainpower of the room, we pitched reasons why office romance happens. These varied - some said it was because working together can make people extremely close (you see your colleagues every day, you always interact and everyone always looks their best). Some said it happens when there's an underlying dissatisfaction (perhaps being bored by your work or unhappy at home). One specific person, whose partner was in the room, suggested a romance could be struck up by an international citizen seeking a permanent resident visa.
Considering all of these reasons, it's easy to see why the strong pull is hard to overcome. There is something lacking that we desire (in the examples above - that could be connection, satisfaction and the right to live in Australia, respectively). So, if our desire is overriding common sense, what can we do to ensure we stay sober.
RESOLVING OUR HEART'S DESIRES
Mark put forward two people who have recommended ways to act soberly.
Charles Duhigg, in his book "The Power of Habit", proposed that affairs happen due to a lack of will power. His evidence was that affairs happen at the end of the day, when will power is eroded by the rigours of work.
Jonathan Haidt, in his book "The Righteous Mind", said instead that the mind is the key. Recognise the cognitive biases in play and you'll be able to counter them, see reality and act as one ought. Our mind can control the pull.
However, each offers an incomplete picture. Each falls short. Our wills are swayed easily. Our minds overwhelmed. Enter Thomas Cranmer (leader of the English reformation and top Christian bloke) who saw humans operating like this “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies."
That is to say our hearts are the source and starter of all action. Desires override the mind and the will. Office romance is driven by what our hearts love. What we desire. Jesus backs this up, of course. When speaking of unclean food in Mark 7:18-23:
“18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”(Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Jesus backs up that everything bad, including the intoxicating pull of ill-advised romance, comes from the heart. Which is why it's fortunate that any desire our heart may hold, Jesus provides in greater measure.
Are you seeking companionship? Does your non-Christian colleague connects and understands you? Jesus provides more compatible friendship and as our maker, understands you maybe even better than you do.
Are you dissatisfied with how things are going at work or home? Do you feel isolated? Jesus provides a more lasting relief - Jesus' ear is ever attentive, his eye ever watchful and you are always connected to him for he even lifts you into his family.
Are you seeking permanent residency? Jesus provides a stable home, even citizenship in heaven.
The pull of our heart's desires is admittedly strong - but the pull offered by Jesus is even stronger.
HOW TO BE SOBER
To finish off the session, Mark put forward three practical tips to resist the pull of romance:
- Be honest - Don't think it's about you or about your prospective partner. Honestly speaking, it's about you and God
- Diagnose your heart - Always be aware of what your heart is truly desiring
- Go back to the Lord - If you do feel the pull, there is a desire from your heart. That's okay - simply re-do your search and try the Lord's promises first.
Now, maybe none of these tips are needed in your life now and that's great. But the numbers say we might tackle this issue sometime in our lives.
I remember being an intern at a recruitment company, working one day a week. A month into the internship, I heard the rumours that Fred (not a real name, but a married man with children) had slept with Fiona (also not a real name) and that broke my world - being a naive uni student, I couldn't conceive of marriages being broken so openly that even the intern hears about it the day after!
But that's how the numbers go. As I've grown up, I've heard of at least two other cases where Godly, Christian men have gone down the same path. So I'm going to keep the above tips close to heart, and constantly diagnose what my heart might desire.