It’s always interesting when someone points something obvious out to you that you really had never thought about. On her recent trip to Granada, Stacy Johnson did exactly that. Now every time I notice it, I have to laugh.
What happened was that in our treks around the city to visit people I work with, places I teach, and churches in which I minister, we met several friends of mine. I would introduce them and as she rightly pointed out, I have a large percentage of friends with the same same. Many of you have watched the big wedding scene in the gangster movie “Goodfellas”. The narrator remarks that it was a huge wedding yet nearly every male was named either Peter or Paul. Even more of the women were named some form of Mary. Imagine yourself in that kind of moment only substitute the name George or Jorge (as we say down here).
It got to the point that on Stacy’s last evening here we were eating at a restaurant and the server (who is also a student) introduced himself and said, “Hello, my name is George.” Her natural response was, “Of course it is.” At that moment realized that I do have a lot of people in my life here in Nicaragua named Jorge.
I want to tell you a story about one of those Georges.
This George is a waiter. He is in fact one of the best waiters in town. He is fast. He is polite. He remembers that I like banana and pineapple smoothies and that if the restaurant is fortunate enough to have strawberries he will always mention it and see if I would like to change from my “usual”.
I see George quite a bit. Not only because of our classes together, but also because he has two jobs. One at my favorite breakfast place and then in the evening at the garden themed restaurant around the corner from my place. He seems like he is always working and always on the move. I have never seen him take a break. He, of course, sits for my class. But on company time, he is always active.
He has frenetic energy and a contagious smile. His English is coming around, yet he continually calls me, “Mister Jeff”. The Spanish format for respectful address is the word Don or Doña followed by the first name not the last. He is highly critical of himself, so he uses the words, “so sorry” more than anyone I know.
One day in class, we had a few extra minutes, so I asked him about his family. He said that he has a wife and two children. Then I remarked that it must be difficult to spend so much time away from them working his nearly 90 hours a week. He said that it was. But then he added something. He said that he was blessed. He was blessed to have a job. He was proud of the fact that his mother lived with him and he could take care of her as well.
Then I got my Bible lesson for the week. He asked, “Doesn’t the Bible say to work for your boss like you work for God?” He was right of course. Paul’s letter to the Colossians states just that.
He went on. He gave me a new way of thinking about hope. I have heard many people scoff at the suggestion that they go home and sleep. I have hear from both alcoholics and workaholics alike: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Their almost nihilistic approach to life is always dangerous. But this was new take. George told me that if he was working for his family and he was working for his boss like he was working for God, then shouldn’t he believe that God would give him the strength he needs? I have faith that God will help me feed my family. And he feels that because he is blessed to have two jobs when some of his friends don’t have any compels him to give it his all.
I did my duty and reminded him that the Gospels recount the fact that even Jesus rested. I also told him that if he was not 100% he could not give 100%. But the whole time I was speaking, I couldn’t help but be in awe of this man, not much younger than I, who was in spite of circumstances praising God for working 2 jobs. You see the difference is the emphasis. Before I had this little talk, I would have written a small missive about this poor guy needing to work two jobs in order to feed his family. This guy is thanking God for blessing him with two jobs so he is able to take care of his family. You see, the difference is in your perspective?
Where does that come from?
That comes from faith. I am always fascinated by those drawings of the old woman. Those optical illusions where you see this woman and change your line of view and there is the back of a head of a beautiful young woman. It was there all the time. You just needed to change your perspective. The amazing trick your brain plays is that once you have seen the young women you cannot unsee her. You will look at the picture and see both women simply by moving your head.
I put the drawing at the beginning of the blog, so you could have a little fun with it.
My friend George has that type of perspective on life. He sees the blessings where I saw the travail. But once he showed me what he saw, I will never look at his situation the same way again.
Maybe that’s what you need in your life. A new perspective. You can get it from the same place George and I do. Faith.
Dios los bendiga, Jeff