Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Leaving the Principle Behind
I'd like to think I'm a relatively easy-going kinda gal. But if there’s one scenario that’s always been a guarantee to get my blood boiling, it’s an offense to the principle of the matter. Sometimes individuals have been my offenders, but usually it’s a case of a company not doing the right thing, not making my satisfaction their primary goal.
Because I am consumer, so hear me roar.
Of course, that's too ugly for a Christian to admit. So I've wrapped it tightly in justice, a perfectly justifiable (and responsible!) intellectual alibi.
One day several years ago, the Lord planted this strange seed of thought in my head. He asked me if the principle is truly what’s most important in a situation.
Is principle really what trumps all?
It was confusing to even consider deprioritizing the principle of a matter, because isn’t it just plain – RIGHT? Why would I not pursue what is right? That would be counter Christian.
And if the principle of the matter weren't most important, wouldn’t that mean I'd have to resign the respect due me? Even give up innate rights as an individual? There are all kinds of ramifications.
The wrestling ensued.
~ ~ ~
Ocean waves crashed their majesty just up the road. And the siren sound of seagulls was all around. But me? I was behind a closed bedroom door on the second floor on hold with customer service. They’d double-charged us for our internet service, and she was submitting a request for our account to be credited.
It was a stressful conversation, the explaining and the advocating. I’m not a fan of those. At all. Most certainly not while on vacation. But the return was worthwhile, so I made the investment of my time and energy. An expensive one, though. It left me wiped out the rest of afternoon.
A couple months came and went, but only a partial credit was issued. And so I called.
Month after month.
Hold after hold.
Operator after operator.
For six months.
Explaining every time the complicated nuances behind the relocating, the residential vs. the business, the double charging.
Finally, one wonderful fall day, an operator seemed to get to the bottom of the hold up. But. In order to resolve it, he had to send it back to the other department . . .
Return to sender.
Hope they comply.
More realistically, hope my remaining credit hasn’t gone back into a black hole.
I took scrupulous notes all the while. I documented names, operator IDs, dates, details of who said what. I had a case, and I managed it well.
The holidays came and went. No remaining credit. And no time to do those dreaded calls.
So after ringing in the new year, I picked up the phone again yesterday. And I was bounced between departments more than ever before. A tennis match of my time and energy, and I was clearly losing.
The dialogue with the last in the string of operators was particularly unproductive.
It was disheartening (to say the least) when she informed me for the first time of a note in my account saying the request for credit had been denied last summer.
And it was frustrating (to say the very least!) when she had the nerve to ask me why I think I should receive this credit.
I kept my cool, though. Didn’t even wear the ugly manipulative tone my nature sometimes puts on. I sought to take the higher roads of respectful communication despite her coldness.
But after a little while of getting nowhere, I got practical and decided I’d be better off hanging up with her and calling back to speak to a different operator. So right in the middle of our somewhat-mutual troubleshooting, I interjected a seemingly random,
“Thank you, operator. I think that will be all.”
Some silence, a few more obligatory formalities exchanged in closing, and no more wasted time for me.
As I put the phone down and placed my right hand on the mouse to start documenting our conversation, I couldn’t maneuver it because my hand was so shaky. I didn’t feel stressed, but clearly, I was.
After a few minutes, my hands relaxed, and so did my soul. Because instead of picking the phone back up to get a better operator, I reconsidered.
That particular moment is the point where my principle-trumps-all nature typically rises up, and my blood start boiling in agitation. Because really, this is all very simple, right?
We asked them to discontinue a service.
Instead, they began to double charge us.
Their fault, not ours.
Therefore, we deserve to be reimbursed. (Fully! Not partially.)
As always, I heard my nature’s invitation to pursue the principle of it, but it wasn’t screaming in demand like it used to. It was much quieter. And this time, I also heard a different Invitation.
Despite the reality that they owed us money. And despite the reality that we could certainly use it. I sensed a need to let it all go.
The money, the principle, the stress.
A readiness to throw away all the papers and close the door to my file of scrupulous notes, and leave it all buried in last year.
Not in resignation. In freedom.
I could have pushed through, like usual, ‘til I found the frayed end of my rope. But that's what was making it sound like wisdom to me, offering me a sense of peace and contentment in the surrender.
~ ~ ~
Life is a series of dethroning exercises. Discovering who and what I have on the throne of my life. Going through the painful process of removing my grip on each one. And entering into the liberating experience of having Jesus there instead.
When we think about idols, we typically think about lures like materialism and power. But I've discovered so many more in my soul: People. Ministry. Fellowship. Even convictions.
And I’m finding freedom in leaving the principle behind. They are welcome in my life, but not on my throne. Only Jesus is welcome on the throne of my life.
HE is what will trump all.
Including my convictions about Him.
Oh and that first operator I originally spoke with last summer? The one at the beginning of this dethroning opportunity?
Her name was Angel.
"Beware of being obsessed with consistency to your own convictions
instead of being devoted to God."
~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Image above courtesy of Travis Silva