1. Black Friday shopping. Anywhere. Anytime. Never. Just never, ever.
1a. Wal*Mart. Where every day is Black Friday.
2. The dentist. I know...unlike black Friday shopping, the dentist really isn't something you should avoid. Teeth are super important. They are used for smiling, and chewing, and biting people while they sleep. I get it. And before you start in with the jokes about WV people not having teeth and I have to attack you with lightening fast ninja moves (while wearing cowboy boots), let me just say that I still force myself to go to the dentist; albeit not as often as I should. But seriously, can I get an Amen! about how super horrible it is to sit through minutes upon minutes of that drill sound whilst having a deep heart-to-heart with your hygienist even though your mouth is wide open and you're drooling on yourself?
3. The DMV. I don't need to elaborate here.
It's not against the law to skip out on black Friday shopping, and thankfully, even the dentist. However, it's required by law that you get a new driver's license when you move and/or change your name. Seeing as how I recently did both of those things, I had to make a date with destiny and get thyself down to the DMV. Did I wait waaaay longer than I should have? Yes. Yes I did. But just like taxes and death, you can't avoid the DMV.
Every single time I've gone to the DMV it's been the same cliche experience. The people that work there are rude and the people waiting are rude. Everyone is angry, in a hurry, has some sort of oozing bodily injury, contagious skin disease, or uncontrollable cough, and is most likely talking loudly on their cell phone about how rude and gross everyone is. I'm pretty sure you've probably encountered some version of the same thing.
So as I was getting all 21 of my documents prepared that prove who I am and where I live, I was not-so-much looking forward to yet another DMV experience. Even though I "made an appointment", I planned to be there for hours. I figured the whole "appointment" thing was really just another device the DMV utilizes in order to torture you slowly by giving you hope of faster service and then making you wait even longer for thinking you were worthy of such special treatment.
When I got to the DMV, carting my portfolio of documents, there was already a long line. I made a quick scan of the area and found that the environment appeared worse than I had expected. Grey, cracked walls. Crusty white floors. People sitting in metal folding chairs. The faint smell of stale air, old french fries, and disappointment. I looked for the sign that said, "Come over here if you have an appointment! :D We have peanut butter fudge, bear hugs, and unicorn rides!", but I didn't see it. There were children running around with only a diaper on. Customers yelling through the tiny hole in the plexyglass window at the exasperated young lady in charge of parking tickets. It wasn't pretty, ya'll.
It was so DMV.
As I stood in line awaiting my turn with the disinterested front desk person, something happened.
God showed up.
He tapped me on my shoulder and asked if I would mind if He joined me this morning at the DMV.
Of course I said yes, but I couldn't help but ask Him why in the world He would want to hang out in such a yucky place.
His reply to me changed the entire atmosphere in the blink of an eye.
He wondered aloud to me exactly what I thought He meant when He told me recently that He wants me to "leave the sidelines and get in the game". Did I not understand that everywhere I go, especially to places like the DMV, there are people He wants to touch, heal, and love? Did I think my commission had hours like an office job, where I clock in and out?
Oh man, did I feel convicted.
As we talked, I began to see people differently. I looked past my precepts and saw PEOPLE. People just like me. For just a moment, He showed me each person through His eyes. The people I first saw as rude, sick, and weird, looked beautiful to me all-of-a-sudden.
I didn't expect it, or even ask for it, but I felt God's Holy Spirit fill the room...
And that's when the miracle happened.
I looked around me and I saw smiles and laughter. The gray walls were more of a light blue. The lines weren't quite as long as they seemed before. I don't know if the people changed or the way I saw them changed...or both....but everything looked different.
Because I saw things differently, I behaved differently.
I was friendlier. I was more engaging with those around me. I acknowledged the people that worked there and thanked them helping me. I made eye contact, said hello, and smiled at people...yes....even at the DMV.
The DMV became beautiful.
I looked out into the sea of people from all walks of life and I thanked God for the opportunity to hang out with Him there. He was a proud Father showing off His children. Every. single. person. in that place was His special creation. He longed to touch them. Hold them. Comfort them. Heal them. LOVE them. He showed me that as bad as I think it is at the DMV, some people leave the gray walls of this place to return to something much worse. Everywhere they turn they encounter nothing but ugliness and pain. No one looks at them. No one sees them. No one says hello. They are passed over by the world. Cast aside as worthless or trash. That little girl running around in her diaper might get the only attention she is going to get all day from the people at the DMV.
While I was waiting for my new drivers license to print, I started chatting with the lady sitting next to me. She said to me, "Has this not been a wonderful experience? I mean, it's incredible! I've never had such an amazing experience at the DMV and I've made sure to tell everyone here just how much I appreciate what a great job they're doing." Then the guy in front of me turned around and said the same thing. A guy in the row beside us heard what we were saying and he agreed as well. The people that worked there were smiling and dancing to the piped-in music from the radio. "Thank yous" were heard every where I went. People were happy and so was I!
Listen ya'll, when Jesus shows up, things change.
Could He have shown up with someone else yesterday? Sure! But He asked ME.
What if I would have ignored Him as I sometimes do?
It's easier to keep to ourselves as we go from place to place throughout our day. It's easier to say that the DMV is just destined to be a miserable, dark place. When God taps on our shoulder and asks if we mind if He joins us everywhere we go, we can say no-thank-you so that we don't have to see what He sees, or risk opening our hearts and minds to the hurting world around us. He doesn't make us touch people and love them. He doesn't force us.
We need to understand that the job isn't for someone else. If we don't do it, it won't get done. Whether it's at work, school, the grocery store, church, walking down the street, at Wal*Mart, the dentist's office, the DMV, with our family, in our marriages, or in our friendships...if we don't bring Jesus there...who will? Why count on other people to do the job you were given?
My experience yesterday at the DMV changed me. It has inspired me to not only look for Jesus everywhere I go, but to ask Him to come along if He's not already there.