Next customer, please?
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
For several weeks, my job had been grueling. Working the 3:30 p.m. to midnight shift at the airport for a major airline and dealing with sometimes impatient, complaining, and often impossible passengers was less and less appealing.
Even though I knew that money shouldn't be the motive for anything, as a single mom, I would have felt foolish to walk away from well-paying employment. However, I needed a major attitude adjustment, and I wasn't sure how to go about it.
Then I discovered a quotation in one of Mary Baker Eddy's "Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896": "Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, - and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory" (page 118).
It was quite a revelation to be told it was warfare with myself that gave me plenty of employment and not warfare with various job duties or passengers. But it was encouraging to think of God, divine Principle, as working with me. So, obviously, the more principled and obedient I became, the more success I would have.
A Sunday School teacher had told me years earlier that we love God only as much as we love our fellow man. My enthusiasm and love for my job had been dulled by an incorrect view of others and of my role in assisting them.
It seemed inevitable that when flights were delayed, or luggage lost, people were going to become agitated and disgruntled. I had not yet learned that getting along with others is always an "inside job." Giving good customer service was certainly the goal, but sometimes it just wasn't appreciated or worth all the effort.
I thought about Jesus, who said, "I am among you as he that serveth" (Luke 22:27). Certainly that one statement of his showed clearly what one's motive should be at any job. And he expected people to "go, and do ... likewise" (Luke 10:37).
I set out to change my concept of not only the passengers, but of my motive for helping them. When I realized that giving good customer service was a wonderful way to glorify God, it became easier.
I had to see pride, frustration, and self-importance as nonexistent in divine Love's kingdom - not only in the passengers, but also in myself.
So replacing dread with joyful expectation, ingratitude with sincere thankfulness, and frustration with genuine satisfaction became my goal. I began to see my association with passengers and co-workers as opportunities to serve God and to love all of His children - even those who sometimes seemed unlovable.
For me, the easiest way to do that was to see God's children as reflecting all His qualities, not merely as mortals with bad attitudes or quirky foibles.
A good test came when I clocked into work one sunny afternoon, only to learn that the first two incoming flights on my shift had been canceled because of weather in their city of origin. This meant dozens of people waiting for their friends and loved ones would now look to us to explain where the incoming passengers were and when they would be arriving.
One man in particular was very intimidating and gruff toward me. As I listened to him vent his anger, I began to feel God's love embrace us both. These words from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" came to mind: "Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you."
It dawned on me that not only could hatred not reach me, but it couldn't reach this man and his attitude.
Quite innocently, he mentioned his home state, and I told him I was from that state, too. Immediately he mellowed, and our conversation became natural and relaxed. He ended up being very cooperative and patient.
After that day, I never again dreaded delayed flights or lost luggage. I viewed them as opportunities to express more patience and helpfulness and, just as important, to practice seeing the man of God's creating, instead of what I was seeing. Instead of seeing people as pressured, tired, rude, or arrogant, I began to see that patience, kindness, cooperation, and helpfulness were the normal state of each of us as the loved and loving expression of the one infinite Love, God.