To evaluate our spiritual lives, we have to ask the right questions
First question: What is the one thing that every bank, every corporation, every insurance and investment company and every service provider promises you? That you can have it your way, on your terms. Typically, this is because of a new app, which will put their entire corporate effort at your disposal.
Of course, this is an impossible promise to keep, but it does sound good while you watch images of people who look just like you smiling because some major corporation has decided to dedicate itself to their happiness, to doing it “their way.”
Second question: When did you last speak with a customer service representative? And did you then sense a singleness of purpose, a desire to achieve nothing less than your total satisfaction?
Earlier this summer, I noticed that one of my monthly billing statements was for $14 rather than the $114 that I expected. I thought that perhaps I had received a refund from an insurance carrier, which I expected, but that it was considerably less than what I had anticipated. So I contacted the company. No, that extra $100 did not come from insurance. In fact, they had no idea where it came from.
Corporations are not alone in failing to acknowledge the distance between what they promise and what they deliver.
Recently, I looked at the same bill online. At first, I thought that I owed more than $200. But on examination I realized that I was being credited with this amount. I looked for my overpayment but couldn’t find it. I also noticed that, in addition to my credit card, the company was receiving payments from a checking account. My accounts aren’t linked to my provider.
It seemed clear to me that some poor customer was trying to pay off a bill, only to be discover, each month, that no payment had been received and that the total amount owed continued to accumulate.
I decided to call the company. It is not really altruism. Sooner or later someone is going to take this money out of my account. I need to put in my own.
Telephoning wasn’t easy. It involved a certain amount of searching for a contact number because, even though all companies exist so that I can have it my way, they would prefer that I don’t call them. The month before I had done it their way and chose online chat. This time, recordings told me that I would have a long wait “because of a currently high volume of service calls.” “Wouldn’t I rather sign up for an app?” the recording asked.
I waited. I explained my problem to the young man who answered. He could not figure out what was happening either, but he did think that he could write up a request to send the money back to whatever checking account it came from. So far, that has not happened. When do I call again?
If we are truly being fed by Christ, we should be able to see that at work in our lives.
I wish that large companies did not pretend that everything they do is so that I can have it my way. I wish that they were easier to contact and that they could admit an error. I certainly wish that customer service agents didn’t ask, “To whom did you speak, sir, when you last called.”
All of this I accept as a modern vanity of vanities, but what I cannot stomach is the immediate request to evaluate their service, using standards that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.
As all companies now exist so that I can have it my way, just once I’d like to be invited to a corporate meeting so that I could point out the discrepancy between what they promise, what they deliver and the terribly limited instruments they use to evaluate themselves.
Of course, corporations are not alone in failing to acknowledge or adequately evaluate the distance between what they promise and what they deliver. We might be guilty of that as well in our lives as disciples.
Corporations and Christians both need to learn. Bad questions asked; bad answers received.
It seems simple enough. If we are truly being fed by Christ, if he is the bread of our lives, we should be able to see that at work in our lives. We should see grace as being effective there.
Sadly, all too often, we devise our own evaluations in which we appear to excel: We have not committed any of the major sins, at least, not sins that we consider major. We have shown up for Masses, at least a lot of them. By the standards of our review, the whole world would be saved if it could just catch up with us.
Is that really what it means to be fed by Christ, to have him as the bread of our life? Or might there be better questions to ask ourselves? Better indicators that our lives are nourished by his?
Have I recently received a whole new insight into the life and trials of another person?
Has this increased my compassion?
Have I had to scuttle any of my opinions or attitudes recently because I came to the realization that they were simply too narrow?
If we are to truly be fed by Christ, there are better ways to see that than only asking what sins we have not committed.
As I look back upon my life or even my day can I identify things that I would now do differently? Or is saying “I did it my way” still sufficient for me?
Do I have a lively sense that something is still missing from my life? That I have yet to love the Lord or others in the way that I am meant to do?
Coming out of a tight spot, can I look back and realize that I did not trust the goodness of the Lord as I should have?
Which is growing faster in my life? Contentment or resentment?
Do I hunger for more prayer in my life? Or is something so starved within me that it no longer feels the pain of desire?
Whatever is currently happening in my life, can I identify sources of support, things of beauty, small consolations for my spirit? If not, am I truly being fed by the Bread of Life?
Corporations and Christians both need to learn. Bad questions asked; bad answers received. If we are to truly be fed by Christ, there are better ways to see that than only asking what sins we have not committed.