“Why do you not practice what you preach?” -St. Jerome
My birthday was a week or so ago. I have hit the age where my arms are not long enough to make the words I try to read legible. Things don’t look and feel the way they used to. I decided we needed to celebrate so as not to get depressed by the state of my body. Jason and I went to an expensive restaurant in town. We NEVER go to expensive restaurants, but on my birthday, armed with a gift card, we decided to go.
This restaurant is the kind you want to dress nicely for. The meal I order for myself will cost more than feeding the entire family, several times, from the Costco menu. I was excited. Queen for a day, I thought!
As you can imagine, I thought I was in for a treat. But when I got there I was disappointed at first. You see, our waitress wasn’t doing a very good job of making me feel like a Queen. She did not bring us menu’s. She did not even look at us. She asked us what we wanted to drink, and being that I didn’t have a menu, I asked for a House red wine. Every time she came to the table, she sighed and audible sigh, as if we were putting her out by sitting at the table. We did finally get one menu, to share between the two of us. We placed our order, which elicited another sigh. When our order came, it was wrong. Jason advised her that what she had brought was not a filet, and I pointed out some missing items. A very frustrated waitress left and went to go get the correct order.
In the past, all of this would have made me angry. I would perhaps have thought about not leaving a tip, and reporting her to her manager. After all, we were paying a lot for this meal. We deserved better treatment! It was MY DAY, and I AM THE QUEEN! But in the spirit of everything I have experienced and written about, I decided to take a different approach. I decided to practice what I have been preaching to see if there was a way to spread love in this situation that in that past would have only elicited anger.
She came back to the table and she brought the correct order, mumbling a sorry under her breath. I asked her if everything was okay. She said she was fine. I stopped, touched her arm, and said, “no really, is everything okay?” She began to cry. I told her that whatever it was that was bothering her that God loved her and tomorrow would be a better day. Then she began her story. She and her husband had just separated. She had a 5 year old, two jobs, and now she thinks she is pregnant, she was exhausted. Through her tears she asked me to cut into my steak so I could see if it was okay. She was trying to do her job still in the midst of her agony. I told her not to worry about my steak. I realized her sighs were not about us being at her table, they were sighs about her own life and situation. I again told her God loved her. I gave her some information and phone numbers for our local pregnancy resource center. I told her to have hope. I wrote her a note and told her to read Psalm 23 when she got home, because I believe the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” is a real place we sometimes walk through and we need to remember that God is with us. That there will be a time when our cup will overflow again. At the end of it all, she hugged me and told me she loved me. I saw her go to the new table that came in, with a smile, and two menu’s. I think and I hope her night got better. My prayer is that God will guide her through this difficult time.
As I stated in a previous post, another blogger had helped to open my eyes even more to the fact that everyone has a story. Everyone needs grace and mercy. The old me would have been disappointed and angry. The old me would probably have made her night much worse. How many times had I caused a spiral of despair to get worse? No more. The new me cried when I left. It was a good birthday. God gave me a great birthday gift. The gift of seeing through the eyes of love.