Some folks (like me) decided to focus on a particular word instead of a resolution this year. I'm not big on resolutions--they set you up for failure--so I like this concept. I chose the word service for 2016, thinking that it meant the actual physical action of serving people. I have had an opportunity to physically do that, but dwelling on this word has taken me to a deeper dimension of service that I had never considered.
I'm a word geek, so I looked up the word, service to discover that it is an intangible commodity. Well, of course, I had to look those words up too. One of the definitions of intangible is something that cannot be grasped or touched.
A commodity is a useful or valuable thing, such as water or time.
Based on these definitions, I came to the conclusion that just because I don't physically serve doesn't mean I'm not serving. There is a precious commodity called time and what we do with it cannot be grasped (kind of like chasing the wind-see my last post).
Even though my days are full, God has given me opportunities to simply listen. To care.
I'm a person who likes to do for people and who likes to get things done--so I assumed that "serving" meant to "do" for someone. But there are ways to "do" without actually doing anything physical.
Two opportunities presented themselves this week at work. The first involved a customer who is the epitome of a grumpy old man.
He keeps meticulous records and disputes almost every bill. I generally have to patiently explain the bill, and he's fine. But this time it involved a prior partially paid bill. He was going to physically come to my office to set me straight. I dreaded it, but remained calm--even when he didn't.
Once we worked out the details, he commented on how much he was shaking, due to "high anxiety." I assumed that it was due to this episode. He told me that he was worried about his health, and shared those concerns with me.
They were legitimate--and somewhat serious--concerns. We sat down at the table, and I listened. I didn't ask him if I could pray for him (I'm not that bold--yet), but I took the time to listen and genuinely care. I asked questions and made him feel like he mattered. He felt that doctors treat senior citizens differently, and I agreed. He was surprised.
I said, "You know, very often, senior citizens are treated as if they're stupid."
His face registered surprise and he said, "Yes! And you know, I thought, 'Oh, I hope she's not like that!'" (meaning me)
"Oh, no! I have a great deal of respect for senior citizens. After all, I'm not too far away!"
|Senior citizens in Prague-learning to edit Wikipedia|
Service + Time = something valuable that cannot be grasped.
I had another opportunity to diffuse a tense moment later that week. This person seemed defensive, and I thought, "Boy, he has an attitude." Later that day, he came in again and began sharing some past history of a business gone bad--a business he had partnered with family in. He lost money and lost relationships. His "attitude of defensiveness" came with good reason. He had felt attacked by something I'd said. My listening (this time) without judging made him feel less anxious that he'd done something wrong.
Service can come in many forms--just like opportunities. The key to serving God is to look for those opportunities in whatever form they may take, because they're intangible--something you cannot see or touch. And time is the valuable commodity that opportunity needs.
The next time you want to run away from someone who is angry, defensive, or has an otherwise foul attitude for no apparent reason, step back and ask yourself if you are willing to invest a few moments to listen.
You may discover that there is a reason. Betrayal. Deep hurt. High anxiety. Feeling undervalued, unloved or misunderstood. Jesus understood all of those things, and He sympathizes with compassion. We are to do the same.
We may be the only Jesus some people ever encounter. Are we going to turn our backs on them?
Blessings Along the Path,
Sharing this blog with some of these lovelies
Be sure to check out the January issue of Ruby for Women e-zine (click on the link, or on the Ruby cover on the right side bar of this blog), where you'll find encouraging articles, inspiring stories, reflective poems, crafts, recipes, artwork, puzzles and more! My article, "What's in Your Perhaps?" is exclusive to Ruby and can be found on page 9.