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Thank You For Rising Above!

Matthew 5:16 – “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

There is a certain store that I visit with some regularity. It is a well-known mega-retailer that is open around the clock, and they really do have pretty good prices on a lot of things. For whatever reason, I usually am wheeling a cart through that store fairly late at night when I would rather be home, winding down the day instead of hunting down oatmeal, batteries and shampoo to cross off my shopping list. 

Most of the time, when I roll up to the register to pay for all of my necessities, the check-out person gives out clear vibes that he or she would rather be at home, winding down too. They offer no eye contact. They force out an obligatory “hello.” And they scan my items and read the final total with vacant, robotic boredom. And who could blame them? This is low-paying, monotonous, thankless work, being done at a time of day that no one wants to be there. 

But every once in a while, I approach a checkout clerk who looks me in the eye and says something like “Well, hello there! How is your night going?” And I respond with some measure of surprise and enthusiasm, “I’m doing fine, thanks.” And, of all things, the clerk responds to my answer: “I’m glad you’re doing okay. It’s too bad you had to come out on such a cold night.”  Then maybe the clerk will let me know – as if offering insider information to a best friend – that there is going to be a sale on ice melter on Tuesday, and I could really save some money if I want to come back and check it out. And when all has been scanned, debit card swiped, and receipt handed over, my new good friend will say “Thanks so much for coming out tonight! We really appreciate you!”

When rare encounters like that happen, I want to let the clerk’s supervisor know how much I appreciate the good attitude and sometimes I do. But, I always walk away asking “What is that? What makes an underpaid, underappreciated, store clerk shine like a diamond in the middle of the graveyard shift?” When all others behind all the other counters are reflections of their personal drudgery, this gem is rising above, stepping up, treating me as if I matter and as if this job is vital. What is that?

I’m sure that there are lots of reasons for a star to shine in the dark retail night, but my hat is off to those of you are are salt and light when your job and circumstances would give you every right to act otherwise. You are showing the rest of us that there is something bigger, something transcendent about being on this earth, working humbly and loyally.

You store clerks who could get away with caring less…
you doctors who are buried with insurance documentation…
you accountants who are in tax season…
you assembly workers who are doing mind-numbing inspection…
you teachers who have wiped the millionth nose…
you pastors who have written the sermon while shoveling the walks…
you police officers who have heard one-too many unkind words…
you counselors who have been weighed-down with everyone else’s troubles…
everyone else whose good work rises above challenging circumstances:

THANK YOU for being kind and caring when you have nothing left.
THANK YOU for recognizing the humanity of another when you are feeling less then human.
THANK YOU for doing your work with a sense of purpose that is bigger than today.
THANK YOU for resembling the One who has called you to this work!

You are noticed and you are making a difference! 

If you have noticed someone whose good work rises above, feel free to tell us about them!

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