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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exercises in Humility

Sometimes God throws curve balls, not just to keep us on our toes, but also to remind us Who is really in charge, and to teach us to depend a little more on him. These experiences, although often painful, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes humorous (or all three) have other side effects, if you will:  gratitude, fortitude and of course...wisdom. 

This morning as I got ready for work, I was planning my day. I have a lot to accomplish with an event this weekend, and since I'm off tomorrow I need to be certain all my ducks are in a row so that I don't walk into a disaster on Saturday morning.

As I left my house, I grabbed a couple things to have for lunch, considered getting an oil change (I'm way overdue) and realized that I had to stop and get gas - not something I could put off any longer.

I locked  up, got into my car, set my bag of stuff on the seat next to me and as the car came on, so did the radio, tuned to Classic NPR and playing my favorite flute concerto. Normally I begin praying the rosary as I leave my driveway, and if I have to get gas, I get it from the station around the corner. But this morning, because that music was playing, I decided not to stop for gas. I evaluated the gauge and judged that I probably had enough juice to get me to a gas station near my work. That left me free to enjoy the incredible music.

Exercist  #1:   I wasn't free

All the way to work, I kept staring at the gas gauge, wondering if I should get off this or that exit to a nearby gas station. I began to "plan" what to do if it dropped lower than I expected. Surely enough, as I neared my possible exits closest to work, the gauge dropped and I "knew" the gas light was going to come on at any moment. That was the first time I began to pray since I'd entered the car.

"Please, God, just let me get to the gas station...give me enough to get there."   I watched the gauge bob up a little bit, as if a little injection were just given. I drove conservatively, doing all I knew to preserve what I had.

My prayer did not cease until I turned into the gas station lot and pulled up to one of the pumps. I turned off my car, breathed a sigh of relief and turned off the car.

Exercise #2:   Poverty

That's when I turned to my bag and reached in for my purse - which wasn't there. 

I stared into the bag, seeing my Liturgy of the Hours, a binder, my work keys, my lunch - but no purse.

It was slowly dawning on me that I had no money, no cell phone, gas.

Uh oh!

I looked at my watch. I knew my supervisor was going to a meeting, one I had decided not to attend because of things I needed to accomplish in the office.

I was going to call her, but then recalled that without my cell, I didn't have her phone numbmer.

Uh oh!

What to do?

Exercise #3:  Humility

Taking a deep breath, I walked into the gas station and got in line. I had only a little change, not enough for the pay phone and certainly not enough for multiple calls.

I explained to the clerk that I had a bit of a weird problem and needed assistance. No purse, no money, no cell, no gas. She called her manager to the front and I explained the predicament to him, greatly embarrassed.

Although I grew up poor, I'm not sure I ever "felt" our poverty so much as I did in that very moment. I was walking into a business I had intended to patronize only to hold out my hand and ask for spare change.

I explained where I worked and that I just needed to use the phone to contact them to ask for help both to reach my supervisor's cell, or to ask one of them in the office to come help me.  I tried to hide my interior cringe, realizing how far this little episode was already spreading.

Thankfully he was very helpful, gave me the store's cordless phone and stood by while I called 411 at his direction (they didn't have a phone book that had my work city in it & I don't have the main number memorized!). 

I called the front desk, explained to the receptionist my strandedness and poorness, and she gave me my supervisor's cell number, but also told me to call her back if I couldn't reach her. She said that someone in the office would be able to help. I thanked her and tried twice to reach my boss - no luck, and it's not as if she could reach me where I was! I did explain the "back-up" plan and told her not to worry if we didn't connect, just said I'd try later. Which I did - no luck.

I called the parish office back and told the receptionist I was still stranded. She transferred me to the business administrator who said he'd come to the gas station to release me from gas station purgatory. (My words, not his). 

I handed the phone to the clerk and thanked her for their help and said my assistance was on the way.

Upon returning to my car, I continued to stare at my bag, wondering how I could possibly NOT have my purse? How could that be? How did I leave it home? WHERE WAS IT?


My "savior" soon arrived, filled my tank and told me to just write him a check when I next returned to work (ostensibly with my purse this time). He said that he'd been in a similar boat before and thought it nothing to offer a little assistance.

When I arrived at work, I had a message from my boss who had called the parish office and learned I was already being assisted. She told me that she was going to start sending me messages to remember my stuff every day. (Yesterday I left my work keys home).

Yes, that's life.

Obviously God judged that I was in need of humility today. But because of that lesson, I'm also incredibly grateful that I have people in my life so willing to come to my assistance, that I didn't run out of gas on the freeway with no ability to call for help along with the money to pay for it, and that, well, I have a job, for even though I am poor, at least I (usually) have enough for what I need without having to beg every day.

Thank you, Lord.

Stop laughing! 


Gabriella said...

I learned a couple weeks ago to really mean it when you ask for humility. I did so, and God took me up on it. I went to the wrong class one day at school. I mentally skipped hours of the day. It was soooooooo mortifying!!!!!! But kind of funny as well.

Adoro said...

Gabriella ~ I've actually learned that even if you aren't totally sincere when you ask for humility, God still delivers....BIG!

The one time I asked really really sincerely I nearly lost my job and it was only His Grace that kept me in that disciplinary meeting (in which I was actually not the biggest offender).

He'll answer ANY pray for humility, no matter how small. Don't kid yourself with regard to any request of God; He knows us, He knows what we need and when we need it, especially when it comes to growing in holiness.

All too often our "sincerity" isn't a factor at all. One can ask in all sincerity but reject the Grace when it comes. That's the REAL test.