Maybe I did something wrong. I’ll try again next time.
Such were the thoughts I had when the relationship between me and my boss first turned sour a few months into my job.
At that time, I had attributed the cause of her increasing hostility to my perceived incompetence at a project I was working on.
As I was trying to get the hang of things, I would approach my boss to ask questions whenever I was unsure on how to proceed on a task.
When she began speaking to me in irritated tones, I figured she was probably annoyed at my incessant enquiring.
Eventually, my boss’ behaviour towards me became a far cry from when I first joined.
Once smiley and cordial, she became fierce and curt. Going to work felt like a rollercoaster ride since I was being thrown into a series of ups and downs every day.
Even if the day started off with her being helpful, I never knew when she would suddenly turn unfriendly.
My mind felt like a whirlwind. I was in the middle of a guessing game, always wondering whether I would be spared a snide remark or have to bear the brunt of my boss’ anger.
Once, I was on a call with her discussing some things I had proposed for a project. On top of questioning my proposal, she was constantly scoffing over the phone.
That phone call was a painful five minutes of her pointing out issues in a derisive tone.
Another time, I was asking for advice on my work timelines, looking to see if she had any suggestions on how to better manage these deadlines.
Her response deeply hurt me, as she matter-of-factly commented that I was “a grown adult and should know how to do this better”.
I also overheard her ranting to someone else about me while I was still within earshot. She listed out my faults, expressing that my work was not up to her standards.
I was in the middle of a guessing game, always wondering whether I would be spared a snide remark or have to bear the brunt of my boss’ anger.
I acknowledged that I was struggling at my tasks and I approached her to be honest about my concerns at work.
However, I broke down in tears as she remained silent during that conversation.
She just folded her arms and stared at me.
For a while, I continued to cling on to God despite difficulties at the workplace.
I prayed that my boss would like me, and for God to grant me wisdom at my tasks. I also prayed that God would use me to be a blessing at my workplace.
When He put it in my heart to specifically bless my boss, I would buy snacks and other food to place at her desk.
After that, things sometimes seemed to get better… but it wouldn’t be long before the situation took a downturn again.
After almost a year of grappling with my boss’ mood swings and mean gestures, it eventually began to take a toll on me.
I could feel myself losing hope. The desire to pray fizzled alongside it.
I gave up because I felt like there was nothing else I could do about the situation.
I began to fear that if I prayed, God wouldn’t answer me.
A simple prayer made a massive difference
The weekend before everything changed, I was seeking advice from some friends.
One of my friends suggested I should pray, and she was very adamant about it.
But having been praying for a whole year, I was extremely tired.
I saw no end to the misery and didn’t feel hopeful about her suggestion at all.
In my helplessness, I asked her, “How do I pray?”
My friend told me to pray for peace for my boss and wisdom for myself.
In that moment, there was no strength and fight left.
So I just parroted her words, keeping the prayer simple and short.
But little did I know that God heard, and He was moving.
That afternoon, I needed to do something for my boss.
I expected that she would simply throw me in the deep end, since that was something I was used to.
To my surprise, my boss offered to help me with the project and even made small talk with me about non-work related matters!
This was nothing like her usual attitude towards my work. I had not experienced such friendliness from her for a long while.
I still experienced struggles at my projects even though I worked hard, so I fully expected my boss’ helpfulness and patience to dwindle… but it didn’t.
From that point onwards, my boss no longer did anything hurtful or said impolite things to me!
I continued praying the same one sentence prayer daily.
Amazingly, not only did the situation between my boss and I go back to peaceful — it gradually even became better.
From not communicating much with each other, my boss and I now go out for lunch with our other colleagues.
I even had the opportunity to hang out with her after office hours.
My boss gradually felt more like a friend and not just someone I see daily at the workplace.
On top of that, she became more understanding when it came to my work.
She willingly listened to my concerns and offered valuable advice.
The lessons I’ve learnt
My greatest takeaway is to never doubt that prayer is powerful.
When my friend urged me to pray again, I took it up as a last resort. But prayer should always be the first recourse.
God doesn’t despise our requests no matter how small we think they are.
Whatever is on our heart — God cares about it more than we do.
Being persistent in prayer is also important.
Although I sought God throughout the entire season, I got to a point of jadedness where I doubted His ability to answer my prayers.
I am thankful that even when things were bad, I focused on seeing God’s hand through it all and clung on to His promises.
I might not know when He chooses to answer my prayers, and why He didn’t repair my relationship with my boss from the get-go — but I have learnt that God works in His time.
I also needed to come to the end of myself; praying a prayer of utter desperation that would align my heart with God and contend in faith for Him to move.
Four months after the turning point, God gave me a dream of my boss one night.
In it, He revealed to me her love language, which is acts of service.
After that dream, I made it a point to show her God’s love through the way she receives it best.
I was more intentional in asking if she needed my help to buy lunch, and offered to help her print things if I was making a trip to the photocopy room.
God desires that we know how to love the people around us well.
This played a part in strengthening our relationship, as my boss and I began to learn how to show kindness and appreciation towards one another.
I’m not saying that we have to know someone’s love language to be able to love them.
However, what I’ve learnt is God desires that we know how to love the people around us well.
As such, we can always come to Him for wisdom and guidance, in order to be a blessing and to steward relationships well.
Dear reader, don’t give up!
From wanting to leave the company to genuinely enjoying my relationship with my boss, this experience has truly been one where God has moved mightily.
While I didn’t specifically ask God to help me forgive my boss, I found that through time, God healed my heart of the hurts I experienced.
And as my boss and I grew closer, forgiveness came.
I no longer bear any grudges, which can only be credited to God’s faithfulness in mending the relationship between us.
For those who might be in the same position as I was — hopeless and jaded in prayer, I encourage you not to give up.
Though it may sometimes appear that God isn’t working, He never stops moving.
Our prayers are always heard, and God values hearts that continue to rely on Him regardless of circumstances.
If you’re finding it hard to press on, do reach out to your community as well. My friend’s encouragement was greatly needed in my season of bleakness.
I pray that He will continue to work in our lives as we partner with Him in prayer!
- How are the relationships at your workplace like?
- What is one way you can be a blessing to transform the atmosphere at your workplace?
- What are some practical ways you can share God’s love with your colleagues?
- Take a moment to think of your colleagues and culture at the office: What can you bring to God in prayer today?