Condemnation was in the air. I reminded myself that I was a law-abiding citizen and that I would not be doing time. I thought a moment as I counted out a quarter and a nickel to pay my 30 cent debt. That was the moment that I determined that, whatever it takes, I was going to win this woman over.
I was in and out of that library several times a week. She was always there, doing the school day shift. Because I homeschooled, books rotated through my home in a steady flow. A month passed and Mrs. Librarian was consistently disapproving of the quantity of books that our family took out. She sneered habitually, was not even remotely charmed by my darling toddlers, and completely ignored my attempts to make her smile with off-handed quips. My cheerfulness seemed to annoy her.
But the Lord had given me a long-suffering spirit regarding Mrs. Librarian. I knew I would win her over and was enjoying the challenge. I had to believe that the fruit of the Spirit would be victorious.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
I tried to be gentle and sincere, asking her authentic questions about her life. I gave her my usual gift of homemade soap for Christmas, asking her favorite scents ahead of time. I always greeted her, wherever her work responsibilities had her on a given day. She was a hard nut to crack, but it happened.
She began to smile as we approached the counter, and even began to swat away my attempt to pay an occasional 20 cents when we had been delinquent. When she was gone one day, having left the job, I can say that I was sad. I hoped that our acquaintance had mattered to her. She knew that I was a Christian. I hope that she attributed anything good that she had seen to Christ.
I have since moved a little west within New Jersey, further from the distinctively more stressed culture of suburban New York City. One day, I walked into the town post office to mail a package for the first time. I expected a more laid back employee, but instead the woman behind the desk scowled at me even before I placed down my package. By my third visit there, I realized this was her state of being. When I asked her how she was, she ignored me. She did not smile once, for months. “Okay Lord,” I prayed, “here we go again.” And so another win-her-over campaign began.
I have lived here now for four years. Just a week ago I approached her counter. I chose not to give up, but at that point, nothing had worked. I even altered my approaches. I never talked about myself. She couldn't care less. I never joked. She ignored my every comment. I didn't ask questions. She gave me one syllable grunt answers. My recent approach had been to be quiet, but nice, appreciative, but reserved. I had slowly figured out that my friendliness irritated her, and less was more with her.
Imagine my shock when she greeted me with a smile! The she continued to be authentically friendly. It took four years, and more than a few prayers, but the fruit of the Spirit won her over. She finally received my kindness. She acted like we went way back. I may never know which straw broke this camel's back, but the Holy Spirit was at work. Why is it so important to win people over by being nice? Because they're worth it. This is light penetrating darkness. I won’t back down. And I won’t return unkindness because that’s playing the enemy’s game. If we're determined to be kind, and don’t give up, miracles can happen. Jesus wins every time.
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List Source: Travel and Leisure