August 6, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

In this hectic world, let’s strive to be more Christ-centered

Patti LambRecently, I was at the self-checkout at the grocery store, and I had to press the “call attendant” button. There was no four-digit sticker on my produce, and I couldn’t find the item when I searched on the computer screen. The light above my register turned to yellow, and I waited for a customer service associate to assist.

I looked around and noticed that she was intently texting on her phone. I gave her some time, but after a couple of minutes went by, I walked over to ask if she would help me. Eventually, she solved the issue, navigating to a screen I was unable to find.

I thanked her, and even apologized for not finding my item on the lookup screen, but she said nothing and just nodded. In that moment, I was a little miffed. I thought the cashier could’ve been a bit more pleasant and less irritated at me for pulling her away from her phone.

Fast forward a few weeks. One of the fundraisers I support helped bring to fruition an endowed scholarship in honor of a man’s lifelong hero. A local newspaper ran a story about the significance behind the scholarship. The man’s hero was a basketball legend, whom he considered a father figure growing up. The man’s biological father had issues with addiction that left him with an unsettling upbringing. Eventually, he met his hero and the two became friends. The piece was beautifully written, but it divulged the story of a tough childhood that made me weep. It turns out I wasn’t alone.

The morning the story came out, one of the directors at work sent this e-mail to our entire division:

“I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears this morning by a piece in [newspaper name] focused on our friend and colleague [name removed]. I’ve spent a lot of time with him on campus … in meetings, on visits with benefactors, on the basketball court … but I’m ashamed to say that I never knew his ‘story.’ We all have one, but seldom do we have the opportunity to share with one another in the hectic environment we work in. This is a good reminder that we work with ‘people,’ not just deadlines, to-do lists, e-mails, and meetings. I needed that today. Maybe you do, too.” 

I thought the e-mail was beautifully written and served as a reminder to look at people first as children of God. In his homily last weekend, a priest reminded us to first look at each other as human beings intricately designed by God. He suggested that if we look to the presence of Christ in others first and foremost, we see them with the dignity they deserve.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works.” When translated from the Hebrew, “fearfully” means with great reverence. Translated from the Hebrew, “wonderfully” means set apart or unique.

Thinking back to the grocery store incident, I was reminded that we are all souls walking around in these earthly bodies. Instead of being me-centric, I could have been more Christ-centered and given grace, recognizing that we all have stories and crosses others may never discover.

There’s a quote I’ve read and I’m not sure to whom it should be attributed. It says, “Be kind. Remember you only see a few pages of someone’s story at a time. Many pages came before and many more will come after.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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