By Debbie Scianimanico
My husband and I contracted with a local company to resurface our kitchen cabinets. After interviewing several contractors and checking references, we selected a company with whom we felt comfortable. The whole project was to be completed in five days.
Unfortunately, it took five weeks to complete. Countless delays with the doors and drawers being lost in transit and then arriving damaged pushed the completion date back. Two of the doors were hung incorrectly; drawers were not properly aligned. There were scratches and chips on the doors that the technicians overlooked. We postponed a family celebration twice until the job was completed.
After multiple unkept promises and other unprofessional behavior on the technicians’ part, my patience had been sorely tested and I was angry. Needless to say, when I called the contractor that afternoon, I angrily expressed my frustration and was not open to hearing his side of the story. He listened to my concerns and asked if he could meet with my husband and me the next morning to discuss the personnel issues he was facing. I was not convinced that any explanation would assuage my annoyance, but I agreed reluctantly.
Several hours later, my son who had overheard my conversation told me that he didn’t think the problem was with the contractor but with the technicians who were careless and not showing up. I was grateful for his feedback and thanked him. That evening I went to adoration and was reflecting and meditating on how I handled this situation. I thought of the personal Word of Life that I had received from Focolare founder Chiara Lubich many years ago—“Love is patient; love is kind.” (1 Cor 13:4-8)
I felt Jesus’ presence immediately and realized that my frustration was preventing me from listening to his side of the story. I wanted to give this young man the benefit of the doubt. When we met the next day, I could tell he was uncomfortable, so I asked him if he would like a cup of coffee. He looked as if I was offering him a cup of acid! He declined politely so I offered him a bottle of water, which he accepted, and his demeanor softened. The three of us sat down and he explained the issues and difficulties he was experiencing with his staff.
We listened with love realizing that he was just starting his business and was learning from his mistakes, a parameter of mental health. We wanted him to succeed. We discussed what steps could be taken to complete the job. He was relieved and agreed to finish the job himself by starting that afternoon. We appreciated his candor and told him that we did not want this situation to come between us. We also assured him that we would not speak poorly of him or his business.
We are very happy that our project is near completion. The cabinets look beautiful. My husband and I are grateful to have had this opportunity to love Jesus in this young man. In retrospect, it was a learning and growing experience for all.