Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Not Your Average Joe

Last week my boys enjoyed Valentine's Day parties at school. My youngest son, Joseph, was elated to receive a fake mustache in his goody bag from his teacher. A fake mustache is totally fitting of Joseph's personality and crazy sense of humor.

My Joseph…sigh…seven and a half years ago, the Lord blessed Todd and I with this guy. Joe marches to the beat of his own drummer, and keeps us in stitches about 99% of the time! He isn't afraid to share how he views life. He is wild, crazy, hilarious and totally unpredictable. Allow me to give you a quick glimpse into life with Joseph….

One Sunday during the middle of church, he decided to take the Slinky from his kid’s bag and strap it on both of his ears. Do you realize how hard it is to focus on a sermon when your kid is sitting next to you looking like Abe Lincoln with a Slinky beard?! And, lest I forget the time he interrupted the parenting lecture Todd and I were giving to let us know he just saw a squirrel! Ironic? No. Just another day of life with my Joe.

My Joe…he is anything but average.

As Christians, we too are called to be anything but average.

“Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you
into a new person 
by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will
for you, which is good 
and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (NLT) 

Oh how I struggle with this. It is so tempting and easy to copy the behavior of this world…to just go with the flow…to be another face in the crowd...to be an average Joe.

It was all I could do yesterday to not spew hatefulness to the airline who cancelled the flight I had booked for my family's vacation this year. With no advance notice, the airline decided to pull out of our local market. And, while they offered a full refund of our airfare, I was fuming. Smoke was rolling out of my ears and ugly words were spewing from my mouth as I dialed the number to the airline and spoke with the service representative. 

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?” she said. 

Though it wasn’t her fault, I wanted her to feel bad for the stress and inconvenience her employer had caused. I was angry and someone needed to pay. So, without heed, I aired my frustration.

“I am so sorry. This is the hardest part of my job”, she softly replied. 

My frustration morphed into regret and conviction. I had not anticipated her humble reply. The phone call ended and I spent the next hour reading countless negative posts on the airline's Facebook page. Customer after customer had written to complain about the shoddy service and cancelled flights. And, while I agreed with most of them, I couldn't shake the soft spoken apology I received from the service rep.

“And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. 
Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” – James 3:10 

While the airline itself could certainly have handled things differently, so could have I. Though the flight cancellation was an inconvenience and frustration, it wasn't the end of the world. I gained nothing from the anger I unleashed on the service rep. Instead, I chose to hide the light God has called for me to shine, and missed out on a great opportunity to show God's love and mercy to someone who probably could have really used a pick me up yesterday! Shame on me.

We will book another flight, our vacation will still take place, and happy memories of a great family trip will supersede the frustration I felt yesterday. Yet, while I'll be able to close the chapter on this aggravating experience, day after day, that service representative, along with hundreds of other reps I'm sure, will continue to receive phone calls from frustrated customers like me. Customers who choose to be average Joes and copy the behavior of the world.

Lord, be with those whose days are filled with hatefulness. 
May they know You and Your love even when they don’t see it in others. 

As Christians, we are called to be anything but average. It’s a daily struggle for me. But, I don’t want to be an average Joe. What about you? What will you be today?

Father God, thank you for loving me despite myself. Please forgive me when I make the choice to be like the world instead of like You. Be with those who receive the blows of my frustrations. May they be as compassionate and forgiving as You are with me, Lord. Help me as I travel the roads in my life to rise above, and be more than just an average Joe. For You have called us to be set apart from the world. Mold me and make me more like You. Teach me to love as You love, and to let Your light shine in me today and always.

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