One of the receptionists walked up to us in the waiting area and said, “The Doctor you’re scheduled to see is running behind by at least 90 minutes (it actually ended up being four hours). If you want to go for lunch just come to the desk and get a pager.”
We checked the time. The Melrose Dining Room, where we like to eat in the hospital, wouldn’t open for another fifteen minutes. At 11 am I went to the desk and asked for a pager. Based on previous experience, when she handed it to me, I asked her to test it by sending me a page. They tried. Nothing happened.
The receptionist took another pager from the basket and tried that one. Nothing.
She asked one of her co-workers for help. Together they tried a third pager and, again, it didn’t work. One of them opened that pager and discovered it didn’t have any batteries! The first pager was then opened and it didn’t have any batteries either! We all laughed about the possibility of a “battery thief.”
After some healthy laughter we got a working pager and went to an early lunch.
Lois was really tired and there wasn’t much conversation at lunch so I had a lot of time to think about what just happened. As Christians we can make some obvious, well-worn connections: Without Christ we have no power; OR Stay charged up in the Word, but that was not the direction my mind took.
When this took place we had already been in the waiting area for over two hours since we have to arrive 45 minutes before we see the Dr so lab work can be completed. It was plain that Lois’s Dr wasn’t the only one running late. We had witnessed (heard) several people who let their frustration turn to anger and then took it out on the receptionists. Their tone of voice, volume, and body language was unmistakable.
I’m quite certain that when I approached the receptionist to get the pager she was bracing herself for yet another angry patient who was upset about waiting. When I was the first one to laugh about the battery situation, it quickly became contagious. The whole atmosphere of the reception area changed.
I thanked her for the pager and she smiled and said, “No, thank you for being so understanding.”
Now, I have to admit, I had a choice. I could have chosen to be just as upset as anyone else. It would’ve been easy to justify with, “if enough of us let our frustration be known, maybe someone will do something!” Every member of my family and many of my friends can attest to the reality that I am capable of letting my voice be heard and opinion known. Many a customer service rep has been on the receiving end of my frustration. (Something I’m not that proud of.)
As followers of Jesus, do we have a responsibility to be quiet and patient? To introduce laughter in tense moments? To show restraint and kindness? Even when we don’t feel like it? Or especially when we don’t feel like it?
I’m not suggesting that we use this as an excuse for letting people walk all over us or take advantage or overcharge or fail to honor warranties. However, I am suggesting that we ask God for truckloads of grace and discernment so that we know the proper time and place and even select the correct individual to voice our complaints to. Isn’t that part of being “salt and light” in this world?
I want my behavior in every situation to be of such a high caliber that those around me want to know more. Not in a way that’s patronizing or seems fake, but with genuine humility. Your character; my character reflects the one whom we claim to serve.
There are three words I hope define my relationship with Christ as lived out in my family, with friends, in interacting with those I serve, in all my life. Those words are: Obedient. Faithful. Humble.