“I think I would rather be water boarded then continue to do this activity.”
“I know I probably shouldn’t say this, but you look just like my five-year-old grandson.”
“Do you know how country you just sounded when you said that?”
“Are you in the military? You’re really tough.”
“Well, if you’re having trouble with your pants, you must be getting fat or pregnant one.”
Over the past short three months, I have heard all of the statements listed above, along with many, many similar others, and while brutally amusing at times, it is one of the main reasons I absolutely love my job. I love my job because it’s centered upon relationships. For eight hours a day, I get to interact with a multitude of people, and for a brief part of their day and week, I get to walk alongside them on their unique journey towards healing. However, these people don’t realize how easily they brighten my day, how much they are the iron that is continuously sharpening me, how they are challenging me daily to be more like Christ, and how they, the “patients”, are healing my own heart in the process.
Each day, I have the joy and opportunity of investing my time into the lives of others. I hear about their families, see pictures of their grandchildren, learn how Justin Bieber is the demise of our society and how much money they’re placing on Golden State, discover more about their passions and interests, high-five them when they accomplish a task they didn’t think was possible, laugh with them when they bring a cooler- on wheels with an embedded radio- to our meal prep session, sit with them and be present in the difficult conversations and moments of frustration, and walk away from each session knowing that these individuals are changing me, that they are bettering me, that their unique relationships are a daily gift and blessing.
In our Bible study, we just finished Greg Matte’s I AM Changes Who I Am, and over the past few weeks, one chapter has been resounding in my heart when I reflect on my job and these special relationships. In the chapter, Matte is discussing our daily interactions and uses the story below to illustrate the beauty of the gospel and the wonder of personal relationships.
Mamie Adams was an elderly lady who would frequent the post office and, time after time, wait in line to talk to the friendly attendant behind the counter. She did this regularly, so the postal staff knew her. One Christmas, she went to buy stamps and found herself at the end of a long line. Someone pointed out that she could easily go to the machine in the lobby and avoid the wait. ‘I know,’ Mamie responded, ‘but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.’ She preferred conversation to convenience because relationships matter. The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus is personal. He knows our aches and joys intimately.
Jesus is for everyone.
She preferred conversation to convenience.
She preferred conversation to convenience because relationships matter. Friends, how often do we fail to be like Mamie, and how often do we prefer, and choose, convenience to conversation?
I know that I was just rambling on and on about how much I love my job because it provides conversation; it provides relationships. However, I do not always have the right attitude and servant heart in every encounter at work. Even more so, while I get the opportunity to do this at work, how well am I doing it when it’s not in the job description?
How well am I serving and loving my family, my friends, my church? How well am I loving my neighbors, the individuals that surround me on a daily basis? How attuned am I to my co-workers and their needs, the people with whom I spend the majority of my day? How well am I loving and acknowledging the strangers that I have quick encounters and random interactions with throughout my week? Am I setting aside convenience and showing them that I choose conversation? Am I demonstrating to them, with my lifestyle and interactions, that relationships matter? Am I pointing them to the beauty of the gospel- that Jesus is personal and that Jesus is for everyone?
Friends, if I was completely honest, I would have to say that I fail at these on a regular basis. While it would be hard for most to believe that I don’t choose conversation- because Lord Jesus and all His Children know that I can talk (and talk)- there are many times where I am selfish and where I choose convenience. There are many times when I don’t send that message, when I don’t make a call, when I don’t invite people into my home, when I don’t take the time to ask how I can pray, how I can serve, how I can walk with others on their unique journey toward healing, towards Him. There are many times that I take for granted the beauty of the gospel, that Jesus is for everyone, by focusing solely on me.
Friends, how often are we “asking about the arthritis”? How often are we failing to foster and facilitate relationships and to love and serve others? How often are avoiding the lines, avoiding the wait, avoiding the effort, time, and energy that true relationships require? How often do we see the opportunity but choose the more convenient path instead?
Jesus is about relationships. Jesus is personal. Jesus knows our aches and joys intimately. Jesus prefers conversation. Most of all, Jesus is for everyone. Yet, are we showing others that He is all of these things? Are we showing others that He is for them?
Another book that I read recently, Hope Heals, had a wonderful perspective and statement on relationships as well. (I highly recommend the book to anyone- hence, the multiple quotes from it on my social media outlets). In the book, Jay and Katherine Wolf state,
“When we most need our intangible God to be made tangible, we need to look no further than His people to make Him manifest.”
Therefore, we, as His people, have the obligation, joy, and privilege to point others to Him, to make Him manifest through our interactions, our conversations and our relationships. We, His people, have the obligation, joy, and privilege to choose conversation over convenience. We have the obligation, joy and privilege to intimately share in the joys and aches of others, to ask about the arthritis, to share the beauty of the gospel. Ultimately, we have the obligation, joy and privilege to be personal, because Jesus is personal, and Jesus is for everyone.
As much as I love and am thankful for my job and the daily hilarity, amusement, and wisdom that it provides, I am much more thankful that Jesus did not choose convenience. Instead, He chose me. He chose you. Jesus chose conversation, chose to intimately share in our aches and joys with us, and chose to show us that relationships matter. Will we do the same?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”- Hebrews 10: 24-25