For the past few months, I’ve been having some eye troubles. I won’t go into all the boring details, but let’s just say I’ve been to the eye doctor a few times. I love her – she is friendly, talks candidly with me about the pro’s and con’s of different treatment options, and is just….nice. But last week I had an unusual painful condition and when I saw her, she said “it’s either this or this – I’m not sure” and she referred me to another eye doctor who is more specialized.
So I went to the new eye doctor. He walked into the exam room, gave me a limp handshake and said “nice to see you.” We had never met so I replied, “nice to meet you.” He then looked at my eyes and barked information to an assistant who was entering it into the computer. She asked a question or two and finally he became impatient with her, moved her aside and entered the information himself. He then told me my condition was either “this or this” (the same things my nice eye doctor had said.) He asked if I had perhaps poked myself in the eye and not mentioned it? (The answer was, um, NO.) He recommended the same treatment my nice eye doctor had prescribed and told me to come back in a few days. He was poised to leave when I said, “can I get your opinion on the three options of treatment I’ve heard about for my overall condition?” I then described the three regimens my nice eye doctor had discussed with me. He said disdainfully, “there’s only one option: the other two are just voodoo.” I was surprised and said “well, maybe I’m not describing them correctly…” but he brushed that aside and said “I know what you mean.” He wished me “good luck” and left the room. He had spent a total of maybe four minutes with me. Perhaps it was five. And then to add insult to injury, I paid $124 for the privilege of those five minutes with the exalted doctor.
This morning was my follow up appointment. As I was getting ready, I rehearsed the abrupt and unkind treatment I had received at my last visit. I vowed that I would respond appropriately, with sharp sarcastic retorts if provoked. I had a few ready and was enjoying imagining how I would deliver these zings! And then I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit: “what if they ask you where you work?” I would have to answer that I’m on staff at my church. Hmmm. What would they think then if I had been understandably nasty and told them I was going back to the other doctor who was nice? They would think that Christians are unkind, hypocritical, just like the rest of the world. There’s no difference in those “church” people. That’s what they would think. And then this verse also came to mind:
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a
I’m a daughter of the King and I represent Him! I should always conduct myself accordingly. So I prayed and asked for wisdom: no, I don’t need to keep going to this eye doctor if I’m not happy, but yes, I always need to be kind. I repented of my evil thoughts and determined that I was going to smile at every single person I encountered in that office. Don’t underestimate the power of your countenance! More blessings have been dispensed by a friendly smile than we ever realize.
So I went to the appointment. And waited. Thirty minutes in the waiting room and another twenty-five in the exam room. Almost an hour of waiting. My resolve to be nice was crumbling. There were pictures of his kids in the room. Lord, he has a family. Would you help him to be a good father? Would you help him to have a good marriage and family life? Help him to be attentive to his wife and not leave her waiting. I’m still waiting. Lord, you know how frustrating this all is, please help me…
And then the doctor came in and I smiled at him. He smiled back! He looked at my eyes and was pleased to see the progress. He was relaxed and friendly. I told him of some other symptoms I’ve had and he shared that his wife also has that and she uses this medication and he would go grab me a sample to see if I liked it. He also gave me a prescription to fill if I decide that I want to use it. He then said it was nice to have met me and to come see him again if I had need. I thanked him and left.
The eye doctor is a pretty nice guy after all! He had just had a bad day, like we all do. I caught him in a bad moment and “decided” that he was awful. I’m so glad I didn’t go in there today with my guns ready to blaze and sharp sarcastic words on my tongue. Jesus would not have been pleased and I’m so thankful He spoke those words and that verse in my head. Our God is gracious and kind to us! How can we do less for each other? We must remember the grace we’ve received. And that God’s kindness is what leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)