Turn frustration into satisfaction

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | January 15, 2016

The waiters at the wedding only did what they were told to do. It was their job to keep the six stone water jars filled and that’s what they did. They were just doing their job … yet water was turned into wine.

Bernice is a clerk in one of the stores at the mall. Her job is to handle returns. It’s a difficult job, especially right after Christmas. All the things that are the wrong size or the wrong color or that someone just doesn’t like come back. And even though they may not have a receipt or other proof that the items were purchased at her store, the people who bring them back fully expect Bernice to refund their money. Unfortunately, Bernice’s job requires that she ask some tough questions. And sometimes she has to refuse to give someone a refund (like when the item has obviously been worn or when the store hasn’t carried that brand in years). But somehow, even when she says “No,” Bernice says it in such a way that the customer leaves feeling like she said “Yes.” Bernice is good at turning the “water” of their frustration into the “wine” of satisfaction.

On the other hand Joe, who works in the hardware section of the same store, rarely says “Yes.” And even when he does it usually comes out sounding more like “No.” He never has time to check an item number or to see if there’s a replacement in stock. And he’s far too busy to try to explain that the reason something doesn’t work might simply be that it needs to be plugged in. “It’s not my job” is his motto and turning “wine” into “water” is what he does best.

Like Joe and Bernice, the waiters probably had plenty to do without having to keep filling water jars. Most of the guests had already arrived and there would have been little need for water to bathe a traveler’s feet. But they did what Jesus told them to do. They did their job … and water was changed into wine. Funny how that can happen sometimes … at a wedding … or even at the mall.

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.

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