Today I took the day off work to hopefully recuperate once and for all from the three-week-long illness I have somewhat affectionately named, “The Cold That Loved Me Too Hard.” But I’ll go more into that in a while after I have made a full recovery. Anyway, as I was eating lunch today I had a humbling “Aha!” moment that I thought I’d share. This Aha! had nothing to do with my actual lunch—I think it was mostly a combination of quietness and a lack of general feeling-crappy-ness.
Once upon a time during my college years I was required to spend extended periods of time with a person who really got under my skin. All of the time. There were so many things this person did that drove me absolutely crazy.
I remember once hearing this person talk about how growing up he/she had always wanted to go to a different college, but in the end felt he/she was supposed to go to my school instead. I’d never really thought too much about that until today, and the thought occurred to me, “Maybe the reason why this person felt prompted to attend my school is because I needed to learn patience, and nobody could teach me patience quite like this person could.”
And then the humbling part started. Maybe I’ve been prompted to do certain things or asked to fulfill certain church callings not because I needed to get something out of it, but because somebody else needed to learn patience. During college I was called to be a ward chorister two separate times, and the second time I remember thinking, “Again? Really? What more can I possibly learn from this calling?” While it wasn’t exactly a hard job, or even a job that required preparation, I always felt like an idiot waving my hand around up there trying to keep my facial expressions somewhere between serious and smiling.
But maybe, just maybe, somebody in the congregation needed to learn to be patient with my awkwardness. Or maybe the organist needed to learn to put up with my lack of tempo consistency. Or maybe somebody liked to stick around for sacrament meeting mostly because I was so ridiculously hilarious to watch. I flatter myself.
I think this is a good thing to keep in mind. So often I find myself categorizing my experiences into only two categories: “learning experience for me” and “service to others.” I need to remember to add, “so others can learn to put up with me.” Because let’s be honest—everyone has some weirdness that somebody somewhere has a hard time with. I’m not trying to downplay that there are some callings and promptings we receive because we are the right person with the right skills to help someone at the right moment. But it never hurts to keep the ego in check.