By Jamie Shafer
When it comes to careers, many convey their job in a sentence or sum it up in a simple title that fits neatly on a business card. For over a decade, Allison* has been helping bring life and personality to homeowners’ kitchens and bathrooms.
She shares with a smile, “I say I tile for a living, but it encompasses so much more. There is design work, knowing how to move an outlet, knowledge of electrical, framing, drywall, painting, design . . . and dealing with the client.”
Clients are different, but Allison has found threads of similarities among them. Many are building homes or are in the midst of a major remodel. “The client is in a position of change, and that’s not always easy. Marriages can get stressed when they are making all these changes and things are going wrong. Sometimes I’m helping people learn how to make decisions. My goal is to help them remain calm in the midst of the chaos.”
Chaos and Calm
Allison’s personal story has been filled with both chaos and calm. She has been through two marriages that involved physical and verbal abuse, both ending in the pain of divorce. While going through her first divorce, she found herself shunned and criticized by members of the church where she had been serving and leading for years. Unable to share the details of her hurt with others, she tried to flee the pain by leaving her church family behind. She felt hurt and isolated.
Several years later, she had the desire to return to her church home but felt unsure about where she might fit. How would she be received? Could she find a place to serve even if she wasn’t ready to lead again? She sought counsel from one of the ministers. He listened to her story of grief and loss and then told her, “No matter what you do you, serve the Lord. You are not always the minister. You serve where God calls you to serve.”
Allison responded, “You mean even in my job too?”
That message gave Allison hope and a new perspective on her life. “I started dedicating my entire job, every single day, to God. Every single job. Every single client. I would pray before I went.”
Conversations with her clients over the years have been rich with purpose and gateways to share her faith. “I have sat down at tables and on couches one-on-one with women. I told one woman my story and she shared that her husband was struggling with addictions.”
While Allison was working one day, a client sat on the floor nearby and asked, “So how do you get to the place of tiling?”
Allison remembers praying, “God, this is yours, not mine.” Allison answered the woman by sharing her story, and they talked through faith, marriage struggles, and emotional issues. “We talked the rest of that day and I didn’t even work. [Since then] we have been best friends for years and accountability partners.”
God has provided Allison with opportunities to support others and share lessons learned from the road she has walked. Yet she notes that God has blessed her in the midst of her work as much as she has been a blessing to others.
“When I work with tile or slate, I see the flaws and I know where to put each stone based on its thickness and strength. I know now why Jesus is called the capstone. The capstone bears the burden of a job. In the midst of my divorce, I wasn’t strong enough to bear the burden. God could still use me, just in a different way.”
When asked how she might encourage others to make faith a part of their everyday work, she responds quickly, “That’s easy! Start praying before every contact . . . to have the eyes of God. Give your life over to God, and he will put you where he wants you. It may not always be an easy situation. What he asks is not always easy, but he does ask us to sacrifice for his kingdom.”
Allison sums up it up clearly: “I couldn’t do what I do if he wasn’t a part of it.”
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.