To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
My husband is brilliant with customer service. He is patient and has an understanding nature. (I like to think I aided in his daily practice of such things.) But I, on the other hand, lack all of these abilities; and “dealing with” the general public in my new career has been a challenge.
I am skeptical by nature. A possess the character flaw of keeping negative memories on the forefront of my mind. Which is different from holding a personal grudge. I forgive. But I just lower my faith in the goodness of mankind with every disappointment. Perhaps these two things go hand-and-hand? But despite which came first, my skepticism or my negative-prone mind, I have been known to impose prejudices on the majority based on the actions of the few.
For seven years I worked outside of the customer service industry. I had my bosses and my co-workers, and very seldom did I correspond with customers. It’s not that I dislike people or think myself too lofty to serve, because neither could be farther from the truth. But people are strange creatures. Some are rude. Some act entitled. Some are ignorant. Some are loud. And perhaps we are all some of these things, some of the time.
Another variable in customer service is the unpredictability. This is a facet my husband thrives on. He loves dodging unexpected bullets and calming unforeseen storms. I despise it. I prefer to know what is expected of me and when. I prefer check-lists and coloring inside the lines. But what I’ve found is that people are mostly a scattered heap of squiggling colors running off the page.
Now let’s add the election on top of all these wonderful challenges and I feel almost so stretched that I could snap. I hold little regard for either candidate. I don’t want to hear debates or interviews or recaps. I don’t want to read my friends’ opinions online and I don’t want to hear about it on the news. But I can’t escape it, can I? And perhaps I shouldn’t.
I do love a challenge though. I enjoy being stretched, becoming better, stronger, and kinder. I joke with old friends that I’m “getting soft in my old age.” And I have a love-hate relationship with this transformation. My hard outer shell hates my softening heart. It makes it vulnerable. Years ago, I clung to self-righteousness in youthful ignorance as a shield. But I have since learned compassion and my mind stretched to bestow sympathy. Here’s the key: I gained these abilities chiefly from acknowledging my own short-comings.
Perhaps my new season of “dealing with” people (customers, politicians, friends) is instead a season for learning to “deal with” myself, for embracing the challenges of my new self.
“You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24)