to change ourselves
I often find myself praying for patience. Especially with people. And while I can prepare well for guests, once they arrive I prove to be a terrible host (this tends to happen when one is an introvert with borderline social anxiety). I clean the house, bake coffee cake, set clean towels on the foot of neatly made beds, and then forget to show the guests where the bathroom is or to offer them something to drink once all their things have been tucked into their room.
Let me tell you a story.
This week a huge, international conference is taking place nearby, and the non-profit organization my husband and I work for is heavily involved. In fact, I have been putting together the logistics for much our organization's involvement over the past several months.
Today I had the... privilege of handing out t-shirts to staff involved in this conference, which meant half a dozen people would crowd around the table at a time, with more pressing in from behind, and ask me to simultaneously look up all their names on my list and pass out t-shirts like a three-headed octopus. And a good number of them had unrelated questions to pepper me with. Because this occurred before and after a lunch meeting, I also had no lunch break (although I did eat. standing up.). I was exhausted.
After packing up all the remaining shirts and returning to my desk, I sluggishly slogged through a few pressing items before tai chi class and a long-awaited nap. I didn't want to see another human being for the rest of the day. But almost as soon as I crawled out of bed--conscious, if not alert--I received a phone call that sent me back to the office (which, thankfully, is just across the street).
I walked into the front lobby to see two frazzled-looking men and a pile of luggage. "Do you work here?" the older man asked. "Yes," I said. "Is that a dangerous thing to admit to?" He laughed and explained that he had just returned from the train station where he had been to pick someone up, and another young man had recognized our organization on the sign he was holding and asked for a ride. This young man is from Colombia and speaks little if any English, and while I know some Spanish, I called my near-fluent husband to come assist him.
Long story short (or a little shorter), Paul gave the man a room in our guest facilities and, since the dining hall was closed tonight, invited him home for supper. I tried to make myself busy in order to avoid conversation, but eventually the pizza came and we all sat around the table together. I even remembered to set out drinks and napkins.
Our guest showed us a picture of his fiance, talked about his job at a university, and asked how long I'd been working on the extremely complicado 2,000-piece puzzle that was taking up half the kitchen table. I was surprised to find that I not only understood most of what he said (did I mention my Spanish is, um, not very good?), but I enjoyed his unexpected company. And I almost laughed to think that less than an hour before I'd wanted to stuff my nose in a book and remain blissfully oblivious to the outside world.
God may not change us, but He will give us opportunities to change ourselves. Especially when we least expect them.