Free Water! Free Smiles!

Free Water! Free Smiles photoLast Friday, my job at work was simple…pass out water on the corner of a major corridor on campus as parents/families/guests came to campus to attend graduation!

I thought to myself: “I CAN DO THIS!” I can do this with a smile!

It was amazing to congratulate cars filled with graduates and families with free water and a free smile!

What was equally amazing to me was 2 other observations:

1. The number of individuals who sped up to avoid our kindness; and
2. The awkward reactions, as if people were saying, “What’s the catch?”

I think the world of work, and probably in a more general way – all of society – has lost the art of kindness. Perhaps it is because we are all too busy positioning ourselves correct politically. If we give anything away to the “other side,” even our beautiful smiles, that all will be lost! Perhaps it is because we have tuned in to devices no bigger than our palms, and turned away from actual conversations or smiles. Perhaps this has made our smile muscles go limp, and our kind hearts turn to stone.

I could surmise all day long, and never come up with every reason. I just know that last Friday, I was JOYFUL to be at work, and to be doing the work that is more considered a calling – connect with others. Connect with those who might just need a bottle of water; or better yet, a smile!

As I was standing out in the 80 degree Louisiana humid heat, introverted and shy though I was, I tackled the task at hand, asking God what He wanted from me at work that day. The resounding answer: Free Water! Free Smiles!

There were approximately 30 cars that day where Grandma said to me, “God Bless you, sweetie! This is sure going to hit the spot!”

No, Grandma…you hit the spot! Your joy, your blessing – well, it in turned blessed me!

And all on the grounds of a public university!

I think of so many women who work as I write this blog post. Most especially, I think of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and her infamous smile.

“Let us always meet each other with a smile; for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Love…not the romantic squishy yucky stuff…the REAL stuff…the stuff Heaven is made of; the stuff St. Paul reminds us about:

“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Good old lucky #13! Thank you, St. Paul. Please pray for us, St. Paul!

In marriage formation, Steve and I were taught that to love is not a feeling, but rather it is a decision. It is a decision you make every single day you wake up and you find the toothpaste squeezed in the middle, the toilet seat up, and the dishes stacked sky high in the sink. It is the small things each day where you say, “You know what, I am going to love today.” It is a conscious decision that is made through the graces of the sacrament of matrimony.

Easy? Absolutely not! Worth it? Absolutely!

What if the same could be said of our work? What if we lead with loving others, versus criticizing others? What if we lead with loving others, rather than wondering what is in it for me in the work that I do? What if our WHOLE calling was all about how much we loved, and not how many great decisions we made for the company? What if loving others made us better supervisors, better co-workers, better leaders?

For some, this may seem radical, and in fact, detrimental to productivity. To those I would say: YES, it is radical! It is living a radical lifestyle in all that you do, including your work! It is the “better part,” and we are called to it first and foremost by Jesus Himself. I can think of several times He started with love throughout His job: Mary Magdalen; the woman at the well; Mary and Martha; Lazarus; Mary His Mother; the calling of the 12; and even Judas. Yes, even in correction, Jesus led with Love!

Last Friday, I loved within the boundaries of my work day. I made a decision to pass out Love. I didn’t know anyone’s political affiliation. I didn’t know if they were good people or “bad” people. I didn’t know if they were going to spit in my face and drive away really fast. I was vulnerable, and I just loved. It looked like I was passing out water and smiling a lot. But really, it was love.

And during the work day, I experienced such joy from the calling in my work life. The graces from that morning of passing out water lasted well into the next work week, and really continue. All from the decision to love.

Maybe you have not thought about how to love in your place of work. Perhaps it is time to try. I know I will be journaling with this for a while, and I would love for you to join me. Here are some questions to ponder:

1. When was the last time you made a decision to love in the work place? Think about this situation. If you are journaling, describe this in detail.

2. What was the result of that decision to love?

3. What are the everyday tasks associated with your job that can be done with great love?

4. What future opportunities do you have in the next week to show love to others through the work you do?

5. What barriers keep you from leading with love, in the way Jesus did in His work place? How can those barriers be addressed? What prayers can assist you in dealing with those barriers?

Love is in short supply in the work place. What if we bring it back, and lead with building relationships first, which is so transformational? Good things to ponder heading into the summer.

Peace of Christ to you and your family!

Mary

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Comments

  1. Awesome post! A few years ago someone told me (or I read – can’t remember) to look into the eyes of everyone you speak to – especially in tough conversations with a boss/coworker/difficult person and say (in your head) “I love you” before you actually say any words out loud. I’ve tried it (when I remember) and it really does make it easier – it connects you to that person and they sense it – or sense something enough that it softens them too!

    And I have to say THANK YOU for your words. I discovered your blog a few months ago when God really started stirring something in me. I,too, work at a public university and your words just really speak to me. I have a lot of internal chaos right now with this journey I’m on as a working wife and mom who is feeling a call for something more faith based and you seriously help make me feel less crazy!

    • Erin…I love that thought of thinking, “I love you,” especially in difficult conversations. It reminds you of their humanity. Their dignity matters, and I think sometimes we forget that at work. But the good news is that women stand in a position at work to “aid humanity in not falling,” as the Vatican II fathers remind us. I think remembering to love, and to extend the embrace of another’s dignity is a start!

      I am happy to hear that others who work at universities read the blog. I have a 20 year career as a college administrator. While there have been times I’ve asked the Lord to deliver me from my work situation and allow me to stay at home with our 5 children, He has not opened that door. So, I have to trust this is where He wants me, and then I have to be vulnerable to do His work right where I am. Last Friday, His work involved me passing out water, which brought joy to my day. It reminded me of why I even started in this profession.

      Thanks for reading! Let me know if there is anything I can do for you, including pray for you.

      God Bless!

      Mary

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