“Do you know who I am?”
The question is usually asked by someone who isn’t getting what they expect and consider themselves entitled. After all, they are Somebody: a person of status, position, social standing and/or means who expects to be treated accordingly.
Somebodies don’t follow protocol. They don’t stand in lines. They don’t wait. And if they do, there is hell to pay.
If you are the impatient type, as I am, perhaps you’ve been tempted to be Somebody.
Happened to me when I went for a dental cleaning. The practice has been sold and most of the people are new. I, however, am a long-term patient, accustomed to prompt and skilled service. Things have changed. First, they called last minute to ask if I could arrive early to an appointment scheduled six months earlier. That would be a No. I rescheduled.
I waited nearly 15 minutes to be called back. As I waited, my husband sent a text saying I should consider the visit a “test.” He reminded me that I’d be representing Christ while there and should keep my behavior in check no matter what happened.
I needed the reminder.
I waited 45 minutes before a hygienist touched my teeth. Bitewing films were taken by someone who needed help turning on the machine. When the hygienist arrived, without apology for the delay, she promptly dropped an instrument with a loud clank.
She then kicked it aside, joking that I needn’t worry. She had plenty and would not need that one again.
If I could have spoken, I might have dropped a verbal bomb on this woman who apparently didn’t realize she should suction as she worked.
Instead, I sat there battling the urge to ask “Do you know I am”
- a paying customer
- a longtime patient
- a witness to the first dropped instrument in decades at a dental office
It came to me that the more important question is whether I know who I am: Nobody special, just another human being whose faults, frailties and outright sins Someone died for. I should take my cue from Christ who “made himself nothing” (Phil 2:7) even though He was Lord of all. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of enduring death on a cross.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name (Phil 2:9)
A real Somebody is willing to become Nothing. They are not provoked, remaining calm under pressure. Christians are called to be Christ-like even in unreasonable circumstances.
For a moment, I considered that my inexperienced hygienist – whose framed degree revealed that she’d graduated less than a year ago – might have had a string of late appointments before me and I had walked into the perfect storm. Maybe she was doing the best she could and I should just relax and show some mercy. (Luke 6:36)
I took a deep breath and let her finish without a word of criticism and managed to leave the office without making a scene. Test passed.
Next time I’m tempted to pull the Somebody card, I hope I choose to be merciful instead. To quote Shakespeare:
The quality of mercy is not strain‘d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest… It is an attribute to God himself. (The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1)