Two Different Days at Work
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father . . . 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
During my college years, I worked a couple of summers in the Black Hills, spending two days a week in a museum. Working in tourism, I noticed that there was a tendency for us as employees to develop a kind of contempt for the tourists. They just seemed lost, asking the same dumb questions over and over. As the summer wore on, our disdain grew. Though we were paid to provide a service to the tourists, we didn’t like them very much.
I think this is probably similar in any service industry. Later in life, when I waited tables, I observed a condescending attitude among the restaurant staff towards the patrons. When I take my car to the mechanic and he tells me my rotors need to be turned, and I just stare blankly at him, I imagine he looks down on my stupidity. Anytime someone knowledgeable provides service to the ignorant, it’s easy to look down on the dumb customer.
I’m afraid this can be the case in medicine as well, particularly in addiction, where I now work with those who seem like it’s their profession to make one terrible choice after another. As a physician, I’m prone to arrogance anyway, and now I daily encounter those who’ve made horrific life choices but who still think they know what’s best. If I’m not careful, this can breed contempt and disdain.
The truth is though, that I’ve been there. I’ve been the one making the horrible decisions which is why I got into this line of work. I do it because I care and I want to make a difference. This, of course, is what I must remind myself of daily. Love is a choice, and if I don’t make the choice to love, I’m naturally unloving.
In today’s passage, Paul prayed for the Thessalonians to be filled with God’s love so that they may, in turn, love those around them. In doing so, they followed God’s will, receiving clean consciences and pure hearts. Loving others made their lives better.
It’s the same with me. I can have two very different days at work. If I go to work simply indulging in my nature to be negative, I make a miserable doctor. Then, that darkness eats at my soul, making me miserable. If, however, I choose to share with others the love and grace that God has shown me, suddenly my day is transformed. In loving those around me, my life is made infinitely better.