I consider myself to be fairly reasonable. I was raised by very simple and humble parents who've served faithfully in ministry for the last 53 years. Life was simple and frugal and we bought the cereal on the bottom shelf of the cereal aisle- the stuff in the bags. Our family vacations were always wherever the Southern Baptist Convention happened to be that year, because the church paid my dad's way. We didn't have much growing up, but we always had enough. I have rarely, if ever, felt entitled. So when I tell you what my pet peeve is, don't think less of me. I know there are much worse things going on in the world and in the grand scheme of things, this one little thing is ridiculous.
My post office folds my magazines. Like there's a big 'ole crease right down the middle. I. Can't. Stand. It. The magazine is ruined. It won't lay flat on the table and forget about casually thumbing through it. I pay a lot of money for those magazines (no I don't) and I really like them. There is nothing better than getting that Fall issue of my favorite fashion magazine in August (full of clothes that I'll probably never have or couldn't wear for five more months because Texas), grabbing a Diet Coke and finding a quiet corner to hide out in.
Just me and that magazine, full of bright and colorful pictures . Of shoes. It's bliss. (Remember where I'm a simple person?)
Back to my pet peeve- creased magazines! I had to get to the bottom of it. So I wrote a really sweet note to my mailman:
"Dear Mail Carrier,
Thank you so much for all you do! We're grateful! But, could you kindly not fold the magazines leaving a crease down the middle? We really love our magazines and it's hard to make them lay flat. Again, thanks for bringing us our mail! Have a great day! -The Varnells" (My husband could care less about his magazines being creased and the kids don't get any, but there's strength in numbers and I didn't want to be "that crazy lady with magazine issues" …see what I did there?)
For added measure, I attached the note to a packet of Oreos. Surely the sweet tone plus a tasty snack would stop the magazine mess.
When I picked up my mail that day I got a note from George, our mailman, saying that's the way they do it at the post office to make it fit and unfortunately it can't be changed.
We'll see about that.
So I called the USPS, they filed a complaint with my post office and then Ms. Janice called from our post office and left a scary sounding message to call her back about my complaint. I had to gear myself up for it. I hate conflict. But I hate folded and creased magazines too.
So I called Ms. Janice back. After two days of not wanting to. Because I was afraid of her. I prepared myself for the worst. I expected the worst.
But when I finally got Ms. Janice on the phone, she very kindly explained to me the very logical reason why my magazine is folded.
Janice: I am so sorry, baby, that's how they do it in the rural routes. They don't fold them in the city routes. You must be new to that area.
Me: (not offended one bit she called me baby) ooOOooohh, that makes sense. I did just move a little further out from the city, I guess.
She was just about as nice as she could be. We hung up and I actually felt better. I didn't get my way and I'll have to learn how to deal with the magazines, but after all of that I felt…happy. Because Ms. Janice was a really nice lady. I might call her back just to chat.
Putting aside my "dog-on-a-bone" attitude about the stupid magazines, I hate the fact that I sometimes expect the worst out of people. I was ready for battle with Ms. Janice, but she turned out to be the most pleasant person. Just really bad at leaving voicemail messages.
That seems to happen to me a lot…expecting the worst out of people. But God is right there to humble me with a kind word from someone. Someone like Janice, who I had made out in my mind to be a hardened postal worker dealing with the likes of spoiled suburban crazy ladies. The older I get, the more jaded and intolerant I become.
But I don't want to be that way. I want to expect good from people. Because when I expect bad, then my attitude to them is already predetermined and I spend a good amount of time already bad-mouthing them in my brain (bad-thinking them?). Like when I need to tell my husband something and I don't look forward to his reaction. Or when I give my children an instruction and automatically assume they'll forget and not do it. Many, many times the characters I've created in my brain for said people do not turn out to be reality. They're actually pretty great and reasonable people.
We should always be kind. It's a fruit of the Spirit. But we should prepare ourselves to be kind. My thoughts and heart should start out kind. You never know what the person on the other end of that phone is going through. Or the kind of day your husband and children have had. There's this thing called "the benefit of the doubt". I should have that.
Instead of expecting the worst, I should expect that I will be connecting with people on a daily basis that God loves and treasures. So I should, in turn, love and treasure.
Always start with hope.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3
Written by Carrie