Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Because those guys aren’t just Kevin and Danny.

By Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like 

My wife and I own an unbelievable amount of junk.

Had you asked me how much junk we owned a year ago, I would have said, “Not much.” And I would have been gravely, gravely mistaken.

I realized just how much nonsense we owned when we decided to move twice in a year. In the first move, we boxed and packed our entire house ourselves. Then a group of 7 men with nicknames like “Tiny” put it all on a truck. Then they had to add an extension to the truck to fit other stuff. And then add a trailer.

It was like watching a prequel to an episode of the show “Hoarders.” In my defense, we don’t have any pets so we’ll never be on the even scarier version of that show, “Animal Hoarders.” I once saw an episode where a guy was living with 60 full-grown chickens inside his house. If I ever tweet out a picture of a chicken sitting next to me on the couch watching TV, please come over my house and have a poultry intervention.

After our move from Atlanta to Nashville exposed the innards of our attic, we decided to get rid of a lot of stuff. We gave it away. We sold it. We threw it away. So when it came time to do a cross town move in Franklin, TN, I thought it’d be a lot easier.

It wasn’t. We still had a tremendous amount of stuff, including a ridiculous amount of books. Have you ever carried 800 or 900 books? Not all at once, you’re not huge like me and Tiny, I get that. But have you ever had a moment when you actually wanted to punch your stuff in the face? That’s where I was after my wife and I made 59 trips in our cars across town to load and unload the small, random stuff we could carry.

For the bigger items, we hired a moving company that our friend recommended. This turned out to be a mistake.

For starters, they showed up an hour after they were supposed to be there. My wife told me that was actually early for movers. It always drives me crazy that there are still some professions where an hour behind schedule is considered early or on time.

But after 60 minutes of tracking them down, they did show up. Both of the guys got right to work. They started hauling things out of the house quickly, but there were some things they tried to talk us out of owning. They looked at some potted plants we had in our courtyard and said, “I’m not sure if those are going to fit on the truck.” Which is a weird thing for a mover you’re paying by the hour to say. The plants were three feet tall. If they didn’t fit on the truck on the first run, we’d just bring it back and make a second run.

Then they started to complain that they were having to carry heavy items. Again, weird thing for a mover to be surprised by. I assume that carrying heavy items is one of the first things they teach you at moving school. If you’re an accountant and you showed up at work and someone said, “Can you please move that fridge to the truck in the driveway?” you’d probably be thrown a little. As a mover, carrying things kind of comes with the territory.

The grumbling got louder and louder throughout the day, the pushback from the movers more direct and off-putting. Finally my wife, who had literally dealt with the mafia on a job site in Boston when she was in construction, said, “I don’t feel comfortable being around these guys. Can you please handle everything from here on out, even if things get put in the wrong place?”

So I did. And we came to a bit of a crossroads. The truck was so full we had to make two trips. The movers started talking about coming back tomorrow to finish the job. But the remaining items at our old house were our beds. And, if I paid them that day for the job, the chances of them driving back out the next day to finish were slim at best. So I convinced them we were completing the job today and drove them back over to the house to empty it out.

On the way, I was praying about my attitude, which stunk at that point. (Even reading those paragraphs above, I sound whiny and ridiculous.) And I prayed that God would let me see the movers Kevin and Danny the same way he did. I was kind of hoping that would be a prayer he slowly answered, so that I could still be grumpy that day. Then maybe a week later he’d reveal how he saw them, and I could write a post about it without actually having to change the way I behaved that day.
But I felt like his response was almost instant.

“How do I see Kevin and Danny? They’re two of my favorite people.”

Dang it. They were. I saw Kevin and Danny, the belligerent movers. The guys who were an hour late. The guys who took a bajillion smoke breaks. The guys who banged and bruised our furniture. The guys who creeped out my impossible-to-creep-out wife. The guys who seemed determined to complicate moving day.

But that’s not who God saw.

He saw Kevin and Danny.
He saw two guys he loved.

Two guys he sent his son for.

Two guys he was crazy about.

Two of his favorite people.

After we got back to my house, Kevin asked me if I could pay in cash instead of a check. The owner of the company called and asked me to do that too because the banks were closed and Kevin wouldn’t be able to get his money that night. In a near empty garage, Kevin quietly told me, “Tomorrow is my eight-year-old son’s birthday, and I don’t have anything for him yet. If you pay us tonight, I can get him something.”

Kevin was carrying my furniture all day, but he was also carrying the weight of being a dad without a gift for a little boy’s birthday. And that was heavier than anything I owned. He was carrying the realization that on a Saturday he wasn’t at home with his family, he was at work with someone else’s.

I don’t know if you’ve got a grumpy mover in your life. Someone who feels like an opponent to your day. A coworker whose hobby seems to be making your life difficult. A neighbor who walks their dog into your yard to use the bathroom. There are a million possibilities, and ultimately I don’t know who that person is for you. But I do know how we’re called to respond.

With love.

With prayer.

With more compassion than they deserve, more forgiveness than they’ll ever ask for and more kindness than they’d ever expect.

Because those guys aren’t just Kevin and Danny.

They’re two of God’s favorite people.

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