*Disclaimer* Should anyone reading today’s blog be affiliated with law enforcement, thereby making it incumbent upon them to report said blogger to the authorities for perhaps driving to the DMV to renew her slightly expired driver’s license, please refer back to any of Days 1 through 11 for today’s reading. =)
Out of the many, many years I have been a licensed automobile driver (and using the word “automobile” should alert you to just HOW long…), it has always amazed me at how often my license, which is good for four years, mind you, has been automatically renewed by mail. At one point my picture only slightly resembled my more mature self, and I found myself having to provide a bit of explanation to the few who actually looked at my picture for identification. “Yes, it is a proven phenomenon that women’s hair can actually spontaneously change color overnight.” While the automatic renewals were convenient, I always found it a little odd that the one card meant to serve as both a license to drive and ID was renewed so easily, and without my even having to show my (slightly changing) face!
Well, I must not have been alone. My beloved home state of California is nothing if not chock-full of new and ever changing laws, rules and regulations for the general citizenry, and sure enough, there has been a change to the system by which licenses are renewed. After two automatic renewals, the driver must now pay a visit to the DMV, pass a vision test, pay the fee and get a new picture to have your license renewed. This year, on my birthday, it became my turn to renew via trip to my friendly, neighborhood DMV. (And if you will recall, my birthday MAY have been a couple of days ago, thus the disclaimer….)
Now, I know everyone has a DMV story – on average, the lines are notoriously long, the waiting rooms overcrowded, and the employees overworked. My trips have been met with mixed results, so I wasn’t really dreading this one in particular. I was just a little nervous about getting my number called before the 5:00 pm closing time, since I don’t get off work until 4:00. (Yes, I’m aware that online appointments are more time efficient, but when I tried to schedule one, the date was three weeks out. I like to live on the edge as much as the next person, but three weeks of lawless driving was too risky, even for me!)
So I raced….I mean….drove oh so responsibly to the DMV late this afternoon and, after finding a parking place at least a football field away and race-walking to the building, took my place in line – which was still snaking outside of the door – and took a deep breath in preparation for the wait to come. I hadn’t been there more than ten seconds before two people started complaining about the long line, then other people started sharing their own DMV stories, and before long I felt like I was part of a mob that I never consented to being in. I guess there’s good reason there are signs posted at each window saying, “Threatening a state employee is unlawful and may result in a fine and/or punishment.” Yikes!
Since I knew I would be there at least an hour (still praying I could be seen before closing time), I shouldered my way out of the mob and, emboldened by my newly issued number, F1077, took a seat near a side wall with a wide view of the room. It immediately struck me how many different types of people were all in this one place. I found myself wondering what God saw when He looked at this room.
I really should ask God what He thinks about things more, because some things became instantly clear to me:
1. We share common experiences every single day with a variety of people around us, yet seldom really look at them. When God sees us, he doesn’t look at our shoes or our bank accounts, our gender or our age – God always, always looks first at our hearts. If I’m to see what God sees in this room, I have to learn to really see people, and care about what I see.
2. Just as harsh words and negative attitudes can turn a crowd, so can a smile and helping hand. I saw these at the DMV today, too. They just didn’t demand as much attention, so I had to look more closely for them. I also saw employees who, even at the end of the day were quickly and efficiently helping as many people as they could – even the rude ones- with courtesy and care. What a hard job they must have!
3. If we are created in the image of God, there is a piece of divinity in each of us that is a mark of the master Creator. None of us are without flaw, but all of us are worthy of love and ripe with potential for kindness, forgiveness and grace. As Christians, we carry the light of Christ with us wherever we go. We should be the ones to “turn the crowd”, not with angry criticisms but with words of understanding and peace (even at the DMV!)
Though it had been a full hour it seemed no time at all until I was covering one eye and reading the 3rd line of the eye chart before having a new picture taken and being issued my temporary license until my permanent one arrives in the mail. I thanked the woman helping me at window #2 and told her how much I appreciated her help. She quickly said, “Thanks”, and as I gathered my things and turned to go, I paused, then I looked at her again and said, “No, really….I imagine this must be a challenging place to work at times. I’m really grateful I was able to get my license renewed so easily this afternoon. Thank you!” She seemed a little startled at first, but then smiled and said, “You’re welcome. Thank you for saying that….”
It was just a simple little moment….but I wanted her to know I saw her – that Jesus saw her. Look around…..who do you see?
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”