Have you ever had to make just the right impression on someone? Had to be charming, respectful, self-confident, professional?
For a journalist, this happens all the time, especially when you're interviewing someone. You know that if you treat people right you'll get a better story, deeper insights, even more time with them.
But sometimes it doesn't work out that way, even when there's nothing wrong with your planning.
This happened just the other day. The person I was interviewing is a successful psychologist and teacher with impressive degrees. He agreed to meet with me for 15 minutes in the lobby of a downtown office building where he was doing consulting work.
Before I set out, I did what I always do on such assignments. I prayed for the assignment to be in God's hands. Yes, two people were meeting to talk business, if you like. But this was an interview focused on what brings spiritual relevance to people's lives, so what we were handling could rightfully be labeled God's business.
The Bible shows that Jesus was always doing what he called his "father's business." Even at the age of 12, he lingered to talk with men in the temple in Jerusalem, giving his family some anxious moments (see Luke 2:42-50).
Sharing the truth of God and its power to heal was the focal point of Jesus' life on earth. Because of his intimate relationship with his God, he couldn't help doing it. And neither can we, when we understand how we, too, are linked to God.
Reinforced with these thoughts, I went to my appointment. Everything was going well - until it was time for pictures. I'd scarcely started clicking away when a posse of security guards swooped down on us and bundled us out of the building. Talk about making the wrong impression on a stranger!
But I said quietly to myself, "God, we're about Your business. You are with us, right here, right now. And Your power to bring harmony and blessing to every situation, including this one, can't be threatened by any other power."
I was aware, as I prayed, of something many people have found: when you stop trying to "adjust yourself" to difficult circumstances, and instead try to bring your thinking into line with God's ways, that's when frustrations and frictions resolve themselves. The adjustment isn't to someone else's rules or whims but to the scientific fact that a higher power is available to control every situation, without error.
Right in that hotel lobby, I knew I had to break down my resentment toward the security guards. They were, after all, simply doing their job, and I was doing mine. I was seeking to turn in a good story - in every sense of that word.
But I still needed pictures. So out we went into the swirling traffic so I could snatch a few more shots. We parted at the main door, me still feeling somewhat embarrassed.
At that moment, a bold sign over one of the doors just inside the lobby caught my eye: "BANK." Then I had to concede that there were probably some good reasons for not allowing strangers to photograph their heavily secured entrances and exits.
A few weeks later, when my interview was published, guess which picture the art editor had chosen to run ... not one of my favorite (perhaps illegal) pictures taken indoors before our expulsion, but an outdoor shot of my guest grinning happily against a background of whizzing cars.
It made sense. After all, the interview was about his contribution to community affairs, not his consulting in corporate headquarters.
Right adjustment, which I now view as our adjustment to God's planning and direction, is a lesson worth learning before we go to work. We don't have to make an impression on someone. All we have to do is allow God to make His impression on us.
... you can never lack
God's outstretched arm
so long as you are
in His service.
Mary Baker Eddy
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society