I was submitting some legal paperwork,and to my dismay there were several discrepancies in my documents. Something that at first appeared easy to rectify instead took several weeks and numerous appointments to sort out.
At one of the offices where I had been sent, I came face to face with Olga. She struck me as efficient, but rather curt. We got off to a rough start. Mine was probably the hundredth problem she had had to deal with that day, and it seemed I would get no sympathy from her. To make matters worse, her computer froze and she had to reboot. She muttered that she was going to take an aspirin and would be back in a minute.
While she was away, I asked God for wisdom in handling the situation, and suddenly I saw things from a different perspective. For a moment I put aside my aggravation with how things were going and tried to imagine what it was like to sit on the other side of that desk.
As we waited for her computer to reboot, I asked Olga if she had encountered my specific problem before. That was the beginning of a dialog between two tired, frustrated women.
Olga explained that she had only been working at that job for a few months. In the past year, she and her husband had divorced, and she had gone through a very difficult time adjusting to her new life as a single parent. I sympathized and explained that I was a missionary, here to share God’s love with people whom I had also come to love.
Eventually, she was able to log back into the system and enter the correct information.
Over the next few days, we spoke on the phone a number of times as I checked on the progress of my paperwork. Each time our communications grew friendlier and more relaxed, and when I visited her office to collect the finalized document, Olga took extra time to verify that everything was correct. We parted as good friends.
I caught myself smiling as I stepped out into the windy evening. Taking a personal interest in someone else’s problems had transformed a mutual ordeal into a mutually positive experience.