Did you ever stop to think about the fact that our kids really are learning how to treat others by the example we set in how we treat others?
Profound, huh? Or maybe not so much because it is such a basic concept. However, this was a timely reminder to me yesterday. I think the hardest place to treat others in a kind and respectful way just might be on the road. Somehow all the crazies come out on the road when I do LOL!
This isn’t what happened to me most recently, however, it was in one of the many, many phone conversations I have had with the same company. There is something about trying to get internet at my house that for some reason is so problematic.
Yesterday, my oldest daughter was listening to a phone conversation dealing with our internet service provider who got the same thing wrong for the third month in a row. Every time I call, I spend a good half hour on the phone, speaking to someone who will solve the problem. Then the bill arrives the following month, proving that that someone did not take care of the problem – yet again. Is there anything more annoying, I mean really?
I don’t know about you, but I do not have time to spend on the phone dealing with repeated issues that are the result of an error not on my part in the first place (ok, maybe that part just irks me more), much less for several months in a row. If phone customer service is your job I apologize if I have offended you, but I did work in customer service over the phone for a bank while in college. I know that it is important to do your job even when the customer you are talking to is not right in front of you.
So, when I have to do this kind of thing, repeatedly, I am very short on patience. And it usually shows.
On this particular day, however, my sweet and sensitive daughter reminded me that the person that I was speaking to that day did not neglect to solve my problem, it was actually the person I had spoken to last month. Grrrrrrr, she was right.
In working my way through my devotions this morning, Exodus 22 was referenced. I was struck by verse 22, which in my Bible reads,
“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
This, even in this, I need to be more gracious. Not only am I commanded to this calling within a chapter listing the way God’s people are to behave, but also because my little people are watching how I deal with strangers. They know how they like to be treated as strangers. How angry would I be if one of my little people came home from somewhere new, someplace where they were a stranger, only to report that they were dealt with harshly, and for no apparent reason.
Actually, I can answer that. I love homeschooling, but the one part of it I don’t love so much is how sometimes my kids are left out of things for awhile when they join in on sports and activities without our community. They are always outsiders there as all the groups are all formed and not generally very welcoming to strangers.
My oldest is going through this right now, and it is so hard to watch. I keep reminding her that as they get to know her they will eventually let her in, but it will take some time.
I am reminded that in all things, we can use our words to be a blessing or we can use our words to be a curse. Even when we are justified, completely justified to be upset, we are commanded to treat others with gentleness, graciousness, and understanding.
I so need to remember this when I get on the phone to deal with the internet company. I also know that I cannot expect more out my my little people than I do out of myself – and they are always watching. If I treat others with graciousness, respect, and a kind and open heart, they will as well.