White, Plastic, Chairs
When I was at Focus One every Wednesday was chapel day. All of the students would wait outside the doors hoping to be one of the first ones in, so they could set down their jackets, iPads, and, for those fortunate enough to have some extra money, their coffee from Stuarts. Everyone wanted to be in to reserve their white, plastic, chair before someone else snagged it.
The normal chapel process would ensue. Some of the adventurous students would travel to a more personal space in the room during worship, but there were always those who stood close by their white, plastic, chair. As the music of worship faded out it was time to hear the sermon and make the journey back to our white, plastic, chair. Sitting patiently, listening to the wise words of our speaker that week, our chairs grew increasingly uncomfortable as students tried to balance their iPad on their knees, hunched over taking notes. It was almost impossible to find a comfortable position to sit in those the white, plastic, chairs.
Things didn’t really get interesting until after the Chapel was over. This is where the good part of the story happens.
When we were dismissed, it was a common understanding that we should help set the room up for Wednesday night service, everyone was more than happy to help fold their white, plastic, chair. But as the chair folding continued, groups of students would start to gather and talks about lunch plans quickly became more relevant than helping with the chairs.
I was always so bothered by this. Why couldn’t people just finish the job? Every week it was always just myself and two other students who were still finishing the chairs, while everyone else was huddled in their groups.
At this point my blood would start to boil. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much anger than when I would stack another white, plastic, chair onto the cart, always watching, hoping for eye contact with someone else; hoping my glance would fill them with guilt. It never did. Instead I would stack another white, plastic, chair while full of hate and pride of my ‘selfless’ act.
So many times I just wanted to stop and join the other students. Not because I hated the work, but because I hated that no one else was doing the work with me. However, I was selfless, I put others before myself, and with all my anger, I would be the one who was humble enough to do the job.
“my selflessness became selfishness”
It wasn’t always like this though, somewhere along the line, my selflessness became selfishness. I let go of my humility and picked up pride. The chance I had to help out, and do something out of love just became a tool for destroying a day’s worth of joy.
I wonder in what ways I’m putting myself in a position to look down on others who aren’t doing their job, or living their life, in the way I think it should be done. I wonder if there are any places in my life where I’ve let bitterness control my attitude and treatment toward other people. And most of all I wonder if I’m still stacking my personal white plastic chairs out of false humility and selfishness, for the glory, for the recognition, or just for the sheer spite.