Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of a styled wedding photo shoot: flowers, tables, chairs, bride, groom the whole nine. The committee was successful in securing one couple for the shoot—a Caucasian couple. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but I thought it would be nice to have a brown skinned couple be a part of the shoot as well. As it turned out, the committee had encountered an impressive amount of difficulty securing the couple they had. They said that they were happy to include an additional couple, so long as I found one. The couple needed to have their own dress, tux, shoes, et cetera, and they had to be open and available the day of the shoot, which was on a weekday. I said, “No problem”. Now you know I just moved to Arizona, and I don’t know but 3 souls here. The first couple I found was willing but unable. Then a friend offered to help find a couple. When my friend told me the name of the couple that was willing and able to participate in the wedding shoot, my immediate response was to say, “No, thank you. I’ll figure something else out.” Let’s just say I would have preferred to work with someone else. Anyone else. But then I had to stop, put my big girl pants on, and say, “Now, Christine, are you going to let your personal feelings about someone get in the way of progress? Who knows when there will be another styled shoot?” Do you know I almost said, “Yep, sure will”?
I called my sister (who always tells me like it is). Prayed about it. And finally gave up the ghost. I will not be the kind of woman who cannot see past herself. I will not be the type of woman who will allow her personal feelings to get in the way of getting the job done, and, more importantly, of doing what is right. I messaged the bride my friend had suggested and connected her with the coordinator.
This may not sound like a big deal, but it was. How many times have we withheld an opportunity from someone because of our personal feelings toward that person? How many times have we withheld kindness, patience, and love from a person because we have been hurt by them? God does not do that to us. He withheld nothing from us. I am sure this couple may have similar if not identical feelings for me, if they feel anything at all. The same way I could have told them no, they could have told me no. As fun as it is to put back on your wedding dress, get all gussied up, and take pictures with a professional photographer, they could have heard who it was for and said, “No, thank you.” That’s another type of progress when two people can say yes to one another despite their differences.
Before the shoot, during the shoot, and after the shoot, not a word of thanks or gratitude was breathed in my direction by the couple. Honestly, I’d like to say I didn’t expect them to thank me, but a part of me did. The following Sunday at church a woman old enough to be my grandmother said, “When you give, do so without expectation. If the thank you comes, it comes. If it doesn’t come, it doesn’t.” When she said this, she wasn’t responding to a statement I made, she was responding to someone else. Interestingly enough, I was about to mention this very incident when the woman opened her mouth and made her statement. Would you look at that? What she said reminds me of a quote by Lao Tzu, “Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”
It is easy to be good to people that treat you well. But being good to people who have not, do not, I find nearly impossible. My prayer is when faced with the decision to pursue myself or goodness that I wouldn’t hesitate to choose goodness.