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Hold That Door!

When I was opening the door to enter a department store the other day, I noticed a group of four to five ladies approaching the door on the way out. They appeared to be together, ranging from a teen to middle-aged adult. I had time to slip inside before they reached the door, but I decided to stay outside and hold the door for them to exit. One by one, all of the ladies passed through the doorway as I stood outside holding the door for them. Not surprisingly, not one of them acknowledged me, or expressed thanks for the courtesy I extended to them.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this behavior because it happens all the time. Holding the door for others is what I was taught to do as a young child, and I continue to extend this courtesy whenever I see the opportunity to do so. Occasionally I say “you’re welcome” after someone walks past me without acknowledging the nice thing I did for them. I do that not so much as to be sarcastic (well, perhaps a little!), but to hopefully make them aware that they overlooked a courtesy and should have expressed their gratitude. But even when I do that, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. To date, no one has ever turned around and said “Sorry.  Thank you.”

I think one of the reasons for this is how distracted people have become due to talking and texting on their phones. People walk down store aisles and through doorways oblivious to what is going on around them, totally absorbed in conversation. I find myself constantly having to step aside to avoid being bumped into while people talk away on their phones, or while they’re texting.

I believe another reason for people’s rudeness in our culture is that so many have developed a self-centered entitlement to be served. We’ve become a “people’s rights” society, and folks believe that they not only have the right to behave and treat others any way they choose, but expect to be treated as privileged.

Just because my attempts to be courteous and to fulfill the rules of courtesy ingrained in me from childhood are rudely dismissed and ignored at times, I don’t consider that grounds to give up the practice. I do it because it’s just the right thing to do. But if I did discontinue holding doors for others and lower the standards of my upbringing just because people don’t appreciate it, it would mean that I decided to justify my actions based on the actions of others.

Here’s a cultural example of what I mean. The women’s liberation movement years ago communicated to the men of our society that women were more than capable of opening a door for themselves. Women wanted to be equal with men in every way, and they didn’t want to be treated as if they were the weaker sex. So, a few men decided that since some women didn’t want that courtesy extended to them any longer, it justified their discontinuation of that practice for all women.

Fortunately, there are many men who stuck with doing what’s right, regardless of what women wanted or didn’t want. I am so grateful when a man, teenager, or even a young boy holds the door for me. I make it a point to express a very sincere “thank you very much” so that they know here’s a woman who appreciates a gentleman.

Within each of the areas in which we have become absorbed with ourselves, a parallel can be drawn in our relationship with the Lord. Everyday He showers us with blessings and evidences Himself in our lives, yet we are too distracted to notice. We fail to recognize His touch, His caring, His “holding the door” for us. We walk right past special things He does for us, oblivious to the fact that He wants us to pause and say “thank you.” It’s in God’s nature to love us unconditionally, and we sometimes become spoiled in the grace and mercy He bestows on us. Without realizing it, it becomes expected, and we throw around verses like Romans 8:28 as if we’re entitled to God’s goodness.

Sadly, too, unbelievers are often unaware of when God is “holding the door” for them to enter into His grace and forgiveness. He brings circumstances, events and believers into their lives to draw them to Him, but they are too distracted to notice. Also, their pride and self-sufficiency often prevent them from recognizing their need for God in their lives.

The popular phrase, “stop and smell the roses” is applicable here. In this case, it’s the “Rose of Sharon” for whom we should stop. The sweet fragrance of His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness continually surrounds us, and our lives would be so enriched if we paused, inhaled deeply of His blessings, and expressed our gratitude. In other words, we need to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

If I happen to hold the door for you, and you don’t say “thanks,” that’s okay. It won’t change my life. But please don’t fail to express your “thanks” to the One who gave His all for you. He is the real life changer.


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