The other day I had to
deal with some paper work with one of the many offices we need to
visit in the city, even for the smallest of issues. It’s almost like
you cannot sneeze without needing an approval from some institution,
but that’s another issue, for another time – nothing really unexpected
getting in the office, here I am with my papers in front of a lady
that is very busy completing some forms, missing my "buna ziua!"
so not answering to it, waiting for her attention. Eventually, she
rose her nose from the notebook and ask me what do I want. I told her
I come from Smiles, to submit the papers. She’s looking at me with a
very sour face, takes my papers, looks at them and immediately
dismisses them because they are not fully completed. "I cannot
take it in, come back another day. Didn’t you notice there is this
full section here that you did not complete? Do you think I have time
to waste instructing everybody how to complete a form? Come back once
all is done and I will take them in!"
discouraged, as I only did this for other colleagues so I wasn’t
really aware of these details, I said:
"Well, I understand. You’re right, now I see we
did not complete all the lines, we must have been in a rush. You see,
there are so many things we need to get done and just as with you,
there is a lot of pressure on us. I don’t want to waste your time, so
thank you for pointing out the problem. Could you be so kind to lend
me a pen? In two minutes I will complete it and will be all good. I
would really hate to disappoint my colleagues and be forced to tell
them they will have to come here again and delay all the other
There must have been
something in this she was not used to… She was expecting probably a
round of comments and protests, as she was probably facing such many
times before, hence her aggressive approach to start with. My attitude
probably was so unusual that she took off her "clerk" glasses (you
know the type, those that you look over the top of) and she said,
almost with apologies in her voice:
"Well, I guess that’s possible. Here is the pen.
You can use that table, complete it and we’re done. You don’t have to
come another day."
I realised immediately
what a big difference an understanding, or at least a less rigid
attitude can make. Later on, when it came back in my mind, I thought
who knows when was the last time that someone had that type of
communication with the lady… Maybe the only thing she hears all day
long is how bad they are and how much the system is rubbish (which is
a fact!) and probably no one ever shows any sympathy for her. And how
all this can be so different, even shocking for them, when someone
gets in there office and has a civilized discussion, admitting the
snags and being ready to do what it takes to put things in order.
There is much to say
about this. But all in all, I think it is extremely important that we
do not conform to the model of this world. Not that it is an easy
thing to do, especially when you’re really trying to do right and yet
it seems everything is against you, in all forms… Maybe there is more
to it when we are saying a smile can enlighten someone’s day. Maybe it
really is so! I think people around us are so caught in a particular
way of responding, acting and reacting that it is only really
ourselves who can break that circle. I think what Jesus meant when
saying to ‘turn the other cheek’ was that a bad word or attitude does
not have to create the same response, but rather a calming and
accommodating reaction might do better.
It’s been my
experience in several situations of conflict that it only needed a bad
look to ignite the fire. In such a tense context, even the smallest
thing can turn into a complicated problem. And then, a calm word, or a
smile, or a pat on the shoulder could actually prevent all of these
and I noticed, quite often, people need that pretext to calm down.
Doesn’t work always, but it does work most times.
I guess I am just
trying to encourage you all, as I do myself, to try to be a good
example to the world, salt and light, people that listen and obey
Jesus’ commands. To remind you what that is, please read John 15:12.
He tells us to love each other as He loved us. And whilst we’re not
asked today for our friends, still we are asked to give our lives for
them. That does not mean to die for them, but in fact it means
to live for them. To love them, to help, to understand and to
protect, to invest patience, acceptance and to hope for the best. All
in Jesus and through Jesus and for His glory.
This is our specific
Calling to the work of Smiles in Romania and the people we try to
Thank you for your
support and for the amazing love you show for these people we work
with. We all need you on our side and it is really only together with
you that we can do something for those in need. May God bless you in
many ways and keep in touch!