Friday, January 4, 2008

What Are You Passing On? - Hope Chronicles 8

Why didn't anyone tell me it was a theme week? You guys are suppose to let me in on those things!

Do you remember those days in elementary school or at day camp that were theme days? There was "Backwards Day" or "Hat Day" or "Pajama Day" or whatever. The great dilemma was if you should participate or not. If you came wearing everything backwards and no one else did . . . . Or if you were the only person not to wear a hat . . . .

This week has felt like a theme week. Actually, it's just been the last few days, but it doesn't bode well for the New Year. It has been "How rude can you be?" week. People have been down right mean with no real reason.

Wed. night I worked at the bookstore. There is an educator discount that has to be used for classroom items. A faculty member came up and wanted to use his discount for the paper he was buying. He showed me the card. I read the back and pointed out that it wasn't applicable for the newspaper. He told me that I was "most certainly wrong" and raised his voice and leaned forward. When I tried to show him what it said on the card, he just got more incensed. It was a 20% discount on a $1.50 paper. We are talking pennies not major dollars. His demeanor so alarmed another cashier that she fetched the management.

Thursday I was walking to my car after work. I was crossing with the walk signal. A guy was driving buy and yelled, "Don't jay walk you @!*% #*@!!!" I had the signal. I wasn't even crossing his lane of traffic. I hadn't stepped out in front of him or anything of that nature. I don't have a clue as to what provoked him. Oh, yeah -- it was like 24 degrees out. What possesses someone to roll down their window in that kind of weather and yell obscenities?

Today was my super long day at my data entry job. I go in at 6:30 and leave at 4:30 with a half hour lunch. At 4:20 I answered the phone. The woman said, "You're probably getting ready to close up for the day." I said that we were closing at 4:30, but could I help her? She asked for some information. I told her I couldn't give that to her over the phone but offered to transfer her to an office that could help her. She declined and switched topic to asking about who owned her land in 1911. I explained that the computer system only went back about 30 years and that would involve a search of the books. I also explained that I really needed the parcel number. She pressed. I told her I would like to help her but that there wasn't quick access to that information. I also explained that I am relatively new and hadn't been trained on a book search so I would have to get someone else's assistance. Her response, "Well, that much is obvious!" Major break in the conversation. I think I was stunned into silence. She finally said, "I was just kidding!" I replied, "I'm not at all sure how to respond to your comment." She again insisted she was "kidding." I eventually managed to transfer her to a supervisor.

So, it feels like it has been "How rude can you be?" week. I haven't intentionally participated but have definitely been impacted and it has not been fun!

If nothing else, it has gotten me thinking. I don't know if these people 1) have never been taught manners, 2) were having horrendous days, or 3) have no clue about about social discourse and being polite. Whatever the reason, I think they were passing on despair. I know I could feel the impact.

What do you pass on to others? It can be intentional or not. Sometimes, it can be a kind word or a smile. Maybe it is telling the management at your favorite grocery store when someone was particularly helpful. Maybe it is going out of your way for someone.

New Year's in central Illinois was greeted with snow. I love how it looks, but I abhor the shoveling chore that comes with it. It actually turns me a bit melancholy. I admit that my thought as I set out to shovel on Tuesday was, "Why did this happen to me?" Of course, I am the queen of taking things personally and weather is so personal. Not! And it turned to a long whine of, "Why does everything come down to me?" This is true since I am single. If the vacuum gets run, I have to run it. If the litter box gets changed, it's because I changed it. If the bills get paid, I paid them. But there is a difference in excepting reality and wallowing in self-pity. Yes, I ventured into the realm of self-pity.

God brought to mind the message from this past Sunday. My pastor and friend, Mark Savage, mentioned doing acts of service. One of the examples, he used was shoveling snow. Being in self-centered mode I thought, "I wish someone had surprised me by shoveling my drive!" God tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear, "This is not about you."

So, I shoveled my neighbors drive and sidewalk and path on the deck and put down salt. Before you shout, "Good job!" please note that I was deeply tempted to quit half way through. It was sheer willpower and the deep knowledge that it would look even worse to have just done half of it than to have done none of it that kept me at it.

And, I was determined to be obedient.

Like me, my neighbor is single. So, everything falls to her as well. My intent, besides obedience, was to pass on a bit of hope. I don't know that she was even home and I haven't seen her and there is no way she would know for sure that it was me. But I do hope that it brightened her day and made her feel cared for.

What do you pass on intentionally or unintentionally? Do you come ushering in a wave of despair that swallows others up in it's wake or do you buoy people towards heaven on the springboard of hope? Check yourself periodically. Make big and little intentional choices to pass on hope!

Side note: While I do have to do most things myself, God blessed me tonight with a couple of helpers. Kolya (13) and Austin's (11) parents were having dinner with friends, so the boys spent the evening here. While I cleaned up from dinner, they took down the Christmas tree (another task I hate). It was down in record time and everything stowed in the basement. We were then free to enjoy an evening of games and playing with the cats. After a difficult few days, they were bearers of hope and peace to me.


Jill said...

Great article, Amy. You blessed us tonight---I'm glad the boys could bless you in return.


Heather@Mommymonk said...

Hi Amy - I saw you at Lysa's and thought I stop by. This was a great post and it made me think about intentionally brightening someone's day instead of the other way around!