The Tuesday after Thanksgiving was “one of those days”. We all know the type and probably feel like we have them far too often. They are the days when your to-do list is a mile long and only continues to grow despite how much work you’ve done; they are the days when everything and everyone seems to demand your time and attention on their schedule; they are the days when you feel like you can’t possibly handle one more thing and wham – here come five more things instead.
If you’re nodding your head at that description, then you may appreciate my mantra for this holiday season and beyond.
While this month promises to be busy for all sorts of good reasons – Jesus’ birth! Christmas festivities! Parties, cookies, fun! – it is also busy for some less-than-awesome reasons. I’m talking about the chaos of holiday shopping, the stress of budgeting – both your money and your time – for everything you want to do, the crush of scheduling with all of your loved ones, and for many (and me) – an extremely busy time at work. It is our busiest month of events yet (50 in December alone), and we just had an employee in our 2-person events department leave on Wednesday. Needless to say, that means it’s all hands on deck – and I already felt a few hands too short!
I am taking on many extra responsibilities that will ultimately be temporary, one of which includes answering our phones when one of our usual employees is out. Well, her daughter got sick on Monday night so yep – you guessed it – she was gone Tuesday. I was answering the phone, being pulled in a million different directions, and watching my monster to-do list just pile up with more work throughout the day. What originally felt like such an inconvenience (the phones) ultimately turned out to be a turning point in my attitude about the entire busyness of this season of life (and beyond).
A founding partner at a law firm in Indy called in because he had left his pen behind at one of our programs in a different part of the building. He (kindly) asked if I wouldn’t mind going to look for it for him.
My gut reaction was somewhat incredulous – I lose pens all the time and I don’t send people after them! It was just the LAST thing I wanted to take time for on Tuesday amid everything else. But, looking on the bright side, if I left to go look for it I wouldn’t have to answer the phones for those few minutes. So yes, mostly selfish reasons led me to seeking out this plain black pen for him. I left the office and headed out to the building’s largest conference center, where I found his black pen beneath one of the 100+ chairs after searching high and low. All in a day’s work, eh?
When I called him back to say I’d found it, though, the relief that flooded his voice was palpable and made my efforts SO worth it. It filled my heart to hear this grown, successful, powerful man openly appreciate such a small thing. It turns out this pen had been with him for many years and had great sentimental value, and he made a special trip back to our office the following day just to retrieve it.
This is the simple encounter that led to my holiday season mantra: May I never believe myself too busy to take time to help others.
Second to ushering back Jesus’ return to Earth, is there really any better way to spend our time here? I can’t believe that I almost let my work tasks keep me from helping out a fellow human. Attorney or not, young or old – we are all human, and we all have black pens that go missing that require an extra set of hands to find (figuratively speaking, of course). If my life is spent doing only acts of service for others, even in these small, mundane ways, I believe it will be a far better lived life than it would have been if I spent it achieving every task on my work to-do list ’til the end of time.
While there may not be holiday shopping stress in the months to follow, there will always be busy times to deal with and I will always find a way of believing myself to be too busy to pause and lend a hand – much less LOOK for opportunities to lend a hand. That is why I hope my mantra – and prayer – going forward is that I will never believe myself too busy to help out another person. I hope this will stay at the forefront of my mind and spirit in the coming year!
What is your personal mantra, or motto? What are the ways that you are choosing to give back this season?