November 17, 2012

My Personal Scrooge

I'm not quite sure how I feel about those moments when the mirror gets turned on my heart and God lets me know, "Hey Mandy, still working on you. See that there? Yeah we need some TLC to start happening." 

Let it be known to the world, that my most perfect/kind/loving self...
hasn't figured it all out yet. 

It happened sneakily and unexpectedly. I left for work at 7:30 this morning, exhausted and apprehensive because race day is tomorrow and my routine is out of whack. This week has been full of early mornings and late nights due to lots of different events that I needed to be at in the early/late hours. Typically I am a very spontaneous and relaxed runner, but I also know the routines I need before a half marathon. I know that this distance is best covered when your body is rested, hydrated, and fueled with good food.  A lack of these three things takes a toll on your body race week...and I have been stressing out because this week has not provided ideal conditions to prepare for the 13.1. 

Needless to say, this morning found me tired and stressed at having to wake up early again with a crazy full day ahead of me. The first club member I encountered was incredibly friendly and nice, along with the second. Top notch "magical moments" as we called them at Disney. It's when a guest comes by and reminds you of all the reasons why you work where you work. Then there was a member who came in that acted in such a manner that I had to remember all of my Disney Traditions training and all of the Cast Member standards for how to respond to cranky people. Thank goodness for Disney World and an early exposure to the inconsiderate behavior of people who feel a strong sense of self-entitlement . For the record, never in my wildest dreams did I think that those words would come out my mouth.

I was mad. Probably the most upset that I've ever felt because of the way a member treated me. My tired state may have added to my frustrations, but I was so shocked at the rudeness of this member. He is a notoriously bad member that frustrates the entire staff, but I have never encountered him before this morning. I started reorganizing the perfectly organized clothes and trying to do anything to keep my hands busy because I was so frustrated. I came up with a hundred things I would say to him if I could say them without losing my job. I thought of all of the reasons why he must be a grumpy old man. I speculated and assumed all of the reasons why he must feel such a sense of superiority over everyone else. I was really livid. 

Here is where God got to me. 

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year, everyone who knows me at all knows this fact about me. I've always taken it upon myself to be the Christmas spirit in our house, because I love this season so very much. As I was stuttering and mumbling under my breath about this rude member, the image of Scrooge popped into my head. The lonely, sad, bitter, and greedy miser from the Dickens's novel. I have always felt immense sympathy towards the old man in the book and rejoiced when his heart changes so late in his life. I see God in that story, plain and simple. It's familiar, it's over told  but every once in awhile, "A Christmas Carol" is a startling reminder of how God works in our lives. He takes Scrooges filled with sadness and bitterness, even when the world says, "It's too late for them to ever change", and transforms them into new creations. As I mumbled and huffed under my breath I could so clearly picture this member as a Mr. Scrooge, in need of the freedom from the bitterness and the anger that he must be holding onto, in need of joy in his life. 

God hinted and prodded me, "How are you going to respond to this man when he comes off of the courts and you have to speak to him again?" I wanted to be mad. I wanted to be curt and short with him. I couldn't do it though. I couldn't pray for this man who was playing tennis down on the courts, I couldn't say, "God, I do not want to be nice right now, but I want to please you. And if that means forgiving this man, then okay. Please help me to forgive him as you have forgiven me. I am yours and you have filled me with a joy that passes circumstances, and I pray that he will find this joy in You as well." It's hard to pray for someone and remain angry at them. 

He came upstairs, was a little nicer, closer to civil, with me, and walked out the door. He had a knee brace on and walked slowly down to the sidewalk to the parking lot. I don't know his home. I don't know his story. I don't know who his father was. I don't know how his children feel about their dad. But I know that just as I am a child of God, so is he. The same grace that has saved me has been offered to him. I know that I have done nothing to feel superior to him, to think that I am a better person than he is, to believe that I am more deserving of praise because I treat people differently than he does. God's forgiveness is an equalizer of men. 

I'm learning. Slowly, very slowly, through lessons in a tennis shop. Weird lessons. Strange convictions. But by God's grace, I am learning. 

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