Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Justice and Mercy

One of the benefits/curses of working at The Phoenician is the food. Last week Aaron Michael and I got to treat my cousin Stefanie, who was in town from Maryland visiting, to a lunch at Il Terrazzo, which is the Pho's shwanky Italian joint. My buddy Josh was the manager on duty and he told us not to order, so we obliged. He brought us dish after dish... cobb salads with scallops, then spinach ravioli, then three main dishes to share: an open-faced steak sandwich, a margarita pizza, and gourmet mac n cheese. Then for dessert, lemon meringue pie, crem brulee, and a homemade chocolate peanut butter bar. Our forks were busy.

Today, three of my coworkers were at a training class all day, so it was just my boss and me. When I got there this morning, she told me to start brainstorming lunch dreams... so we eventually decided to order from Relish Burger Bistro, another restaurant on property. And I ordered "crab cake sliders." In other words, tiny crab cake sandwiches with avocado and some kind of spicy Cole slaw. They changed my life, blog friends. They changed my life. I literally danced in my chair while I was eating them. It was a special moment. If you ever come to visit me in good ole' Phoenix, which I sure hope you do, the first thing we're doing is overloading on crab cake sliders. You're welcome.

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to delve into foodie land this evening, but I've had so many fabulous munchies lately that I felt like sharing. Well, sharing/hoping to make you jealous. And, of course, your only cure for jealousy is to come and see me, right? To partake? You're getting my motives now. (Ashley and Amy. Stat.)


Being alone in the office today was a bit of an experience on its own, notwithstanding the crab cakes. Even though my boss was there today, she is constantly in and out of meetings, so for the better part of the day it was really just me in the ol' HR office. Sometimes when there are lulls in the outside foot traffic (which are rare, but for some reason weren't so rare today) it gets too quiet in there and I have to hum Brooke Fraser or read my e-mails out loud to myself in an English accent. (If you don't believe me that that happens, call me tomorrow and I'll do it for you. I can't tell if I'm going Australian or British, but whatever it is, it's getting good. Mate.) And being in there by myself, answering e-mails and phone calls, helping walk-ins and just generally doing my other duties is becoming really a growing experience for me. A stretching, uncomfortable, but necessary experience. Not to romanticize the 9-5 humdrum that I'm sure everyone feels to some extent... but when one spends 40 hours a week in one place, it would be silly to imagine that God's not going to teach you some lessons in there.

A few months ago my manager told me that HR exists primarily to make everyone else in the resort's job easier. That was a bit of a nudge to me. Before that, I had started getting caught up in some of the other, I hate to say it... 'policing' aspects of our gig. Making sure papers are signed, procedures are followed, etc. And those things can sometimes be necessary to help make everyone else's job easier. But say for example, a few months ago, I received a form that was filled out incorrectly. My instinct would probably have been to send the form back to it's owner and ask for a correction. And I'm being honest when I tell you that I wouldn't have done that with sinister intentions - as in, LOOK WHAT YOU DID WRONG - I would have been doing it out of an effort to make sure everyone was aware of the correct way to do things. Good intentions, I think. Good intentions that sound bad, anyway.

But every time something like that happens now, I keep trying to remind myself that we are just there to help. If a form isn't filled out correctly, I get out my trusty white-out and go to town. If a manager is rude to me on the phone, I try to imagine the pressure they must be under, and how I sometimes might seem like another obstacle to what they're trying to accomplish. And I just try to help. If i answer the phone politely and the conversation starts with a nice, big, 'LISTEN LADY,' I really try to take it in stride. I don't always do great, but I'm trying. And it helps when I remember why I'm there - to help. Not to instruct, or enforce, or be human red tape. Not to correct people when they're rude to me or avoid correcting others' errors. To help. Mercy.

I need to learn mercy. It is something I can't learn. I have such a ferocious, thriving, deep-rooted respect for justice. I am addicted to it. I think it's how I make sense of things. It's how I make sense of God and how I make almost all of my daily decisions. But I think it's eating me. It's stealing my ability to heart-learn God's grace. And it's starting to eat the place in my heart that is supposed to feed mercy.

Last week I read Hosea 6:6, which is almost absurdly clear. Sometimes God is one for prose, and then sometimes He says things like, "I desire mercy." (Verse 6). As in, 'get this or go home. I can't make it any clearer.' And I felt like throwing up. Becuase I thought He wanted fairness.

Here's the thing. I think sometimes we have to choose between two things we love already. Choosing one thing over another doesn't mean you don't love the other; it just means you love the former thing more in that moment. I feel like I'm being too abstract... say, for example, that I have to choose between drinking orange juice or cranberry juice. I love them both. But let's say I choose cranberry juice, like I just did a few minutes ago. (YUM crangrape.) That doesn't mean I don't love orange juice. It just means that at 10:15 pm on 11-9-2010 (Dang is it really 10:15??), I loved crangrape more.

And I think I need to start loving mercy more than fairness. It's so easy to find opportunities to put that in practice at work, so I've really been trying to work at it. And failing miserably, I presume, but trying. I am trying to think of examples to share with you, but I want to be careful about how much detail I get into about work here online. In the peanut gallery.

Here's an example from home. If Aaron came to me with a dirty shirt on Thursday and wanted to wear it on Friday, mercy would want me to do a load of laundry; even though I hate laundry like the plague and usually keep a strict saturday-only policy, which Aaron knows about. When in theory, I suppose I could go to Aaron and say "you should have given me that shirt last weekend; now you'll have to wait. You know I only do it on Saturday." That's a silly example and I think I can confidently say I have never been so weirdly cruel as to do something like that. (And anyway he'd probably just tell me to take a hike and he'd do the laundry himself...rightly so, ha.) But it feebly describes what I'm trying to say. Sometimes the fair thing to do, or the justice-loving thing, might be in conflict with the mercy-loving thing. And I need to choose the mercy-loving thing. Always.

For a much better example than I could dream up, check out the book of Philemon. It's short and sweet, and it'll make you cringe. Onesimus used to be the servant of Philemon, but he ditched him and likely stole his money. He ended up running into Paul during his escape. They become friends and Paul write to Philemon. He says listen, take Onesimus back. Treat him like a brother and pay for him to become a citizen as well. Do it for me. I'm sure you will. Good day.

And there's the Most Hasty Summary of Philemon You've Ever Read. But nevertheless - it's mercy. Undeserved kindness. Check it out. (If you would like more info on the back story, shoot me an e-mail and I can ask my pastor for some of his notes.)

The only other thing I want to say on this subject is that I'm starting to investigate the possibility that maybe justice is never ours to choose. Maybe the only One who has the right to play the justice card is the perfect One. (Now that's not to say we shouldn't be wise. If someone steals my purse I'm not going to not call the police out of some delusion of mercy. But I'll call the police because I want my purse back, not because I want to punish it's robber.)

Mother Theresa, who still haunts me (in a good way) just about every day since I read this, called her mission the Sisters of Mercy. She learned it so much better than I.

What do you think?

CRANGRAPE juice, hurrah!

1 comment:

  1. I so very love your wise words! Evelyn