I was reminded yesterday about something that occurs every day–People are watching. The cashier at your grocery store, the teller at your bank, the person who cuts your hair, the lady who cleans your home–they are all watching you, looking to get a sense of what kind of person you are. We know this is the case because we do it too. Though largely on the subconscious level, we continually process the signals we receive from others and we quietly ascertain whether this is someone we want to know better, or whether this is someone we would rather avoid.
If you want to test my hypothesis, here is a scenario for your consideration: You walk into the bank that you have always gone to. You know all the staff. You’re in a fairly long line-up. Do you begin to hope that you will be served by a particular teller? Is there someone you are eagerly hoping to NOT be served by?
Am I the only one who thinks like this?
I was acutely reminded of this human tendency yesterday when I went to the post office to mail a small package. Thanks to ebay.com this is something I regularly do–and I always go to the same post office and am usually served by the same person.
“Life is Good?” the person serving me asked.
“Of course it is”, I responded with a modicum of awkwardness.
“Life is Good”, she repeated, this time pointing at my shirt. (I own a selection of shirts made by a clothing company, Life is Good – the shirt I was wearing is the header for this post).
“Do you believe that?”, she asked me.
“I sure do–Life IS good”, I insisted.
“That must be why you always seem happy and are smiling”, was her final response as she handed me my receipt.
The last thing the lady at Canada Post said left me encouraged, convicted, and compelled to write this blog–all at the same time.
I was greatly encouraged to know that I come across to others (at least to one person!) as a happy person. But as my encouragement from the encounter began to wane, a conviction began to arise. The woman at Canada Post doesn’t know the true origin of my happiness. The source of my happiness is appropriately summarized by the hymn line, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ But, how do I communicate that in a one minute conversation at the post office?
To be honest, I’m not sure how I could have responded differently. I’m not so much bothered by what I did or didn’t say–I’m bothered by my total lack of readiness for such an opportunity. I had forgotten sociology 101 principle: People are watching.
I wonder if this is why the apostle Peter writes these words in one of his letters to the churches of his day: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
In other words, if someone wants to know the source of your happiness, be ready to tell them the truth.
I lament that I wasn’t ready, but I’m thankful for the prospect of new opportunities. The next time I eat at a local restaurant, the next time I pick up my dry cleaning, and the next time I mail a package, I’ll remember that others are watching.
I’ll remember that I may have an opportunity to affirm with my words what my actions have been seeking to convey–that Life is Good because God is Good.