It all started as a joke back in December of 2012. I made a remark to Jeff that I was tired of being called ugly names by parents of kids that I work with when their demands weren't being met immediately. He jokingly said, "You should keep track of how many times that happens in the new year".
I went with it.
Beginning on January 1, 2013, I kept track of every time someone that I was trying to help at work called me a bad name or said something nasty to me. Now, let me remind you that I work part time, so in 2013, I worked 0approximately 192 days (with time off for vacation accounted for and only working 4 days a week regularly). In those approximately 190 days, I was called names/cursed at 95 times.
Even I was surprised at the number. You see, I expected that if it were that high, I'd be frustrated and ready to quit my job. I expected that I'd feel defeated and angry even. But last week, I worked my last day of 2013 and the count was finished, and all I felt was sadness.
I spent time this year talking to people who have worked as prostitutes, ladies who dance naked for a living, people who have served prison time for child abuse and drug charges, people who are wealthy, people who are poor, people who are addicted, people who are gay, people who are straight , people who believe in Jesus, people who vehemently deny His existence, and everyone in between. One of the greatest things about my job is that I'm able to talk with folks of all walks of life. I love that! I love talking and getting to know people who don't think like I do or live like I do. I believe we are supposed to spend time with people who are different than us. But I digress...
Out of all of the people I listed above, do you want to know who it is that spoke the worst to me, and is one of only two or three that I actually remember specifically? It's probably not who some of you would guess. The one person who treated me the worst and sticks out most in my mind is the pastor who is nasty when he calls.
I talk to him regularly. It's never been good. I have never had a conversation with him that left me smiling. Truth be told, if I were not secure in my faith and my personal relationship with Jesus, I'd never want anything to do with Christ or any of his followers at all after talking with this guy. And so I'm left with overwhelming sadness by this.
Here's the deal. I can't expect those I work with or come across in my day to day life who do not believe in Jesus or have a relationship with him to act like Jesus. None of us can. It's ludicrous to expect that. But if we DO profess to love Jesus and His word, and we say that we want our lives to reflect His, then we better be living like He actually lived.
I'm tired of the arguing, the backbiting, the gossip, the hatred, the plain ol' meanness that I see among believers, myself included. Before you think that I'm getting on a high horse, please hear me say that I am an offender too. I've claimed the name of Jesus while looking down on others. I've hurt people, even if it is unintentional. When we fail to try and get to know the real person and not just what we see on the outside, we aren't acting like Jesus. I don't like it when someone does that to me, and I have no business doing it to others.
One of my goals for this year is to spend more time with people whose lives look differently than mine. I want to really love people, and if that's my goal, well then I have to KNOW them better. I want my life to really look like Jesus' life, and let's be honest, Jesus was constantly offending the religious leaders. I'm not saying that I want to offend people in the church; that's not my goal. But I don't want to keep from really loving people just because I'm afraid of what some in the church might think. I want people to see Jesus in my actions, hear him in my words, and feel him in my touch. It will mean getting out of my comfort zone, getting dirty at times even. But if I really want to be like Jesus, I have to act like Jesus, and when I read the Scriptures, I see Jesus hanging with those who weren't like him and serving them.
John 15:8 records Jesus saying this: "When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father".
Oh, how I want to produce much fruit in 2014!
No more keeping count of the times someone curses me this year. I don't need it. Here's to fresh starts with a God who never leaves me alone. May I bring him much glory this year.