A Profound Lesson Learned

Many years ago, a simple woman of little means sat across from me at my insurance office. I had known her for years. She was in her forties. Her boyfriend, whom I had also known for many years, had recently had brain surgery. It was the second operation he had to relieve pressure on his brain due to a tumor. She shed tears as she told me that her long-time boyfriend thought he would fully recover from the first operation, which he didn’t. She told me that he had such high hopes of being able to return to work. He was a truck driver for the county. Then she said something I found, at first, to be humorous. Later, I reflected on her words and found a more profound meaning to them. She said, “All he wants is to be able to drive his little yellow dump truck around.” She was referring to the vehicle he had been driving around for the county for the past number of years. Her boyfriend might also be described as “simple” in mind and social status. Like I said, at first, hearing her say that all he wanted was to drive his “little yellow dump truck” struck me as funny. I thought to myself at that moment, “Really, is that all he wants out of life? To drive a dump truck for the county!” But it didn’t take too long after she left for me to feel embarrassed at myself for thinking such a thing. It brought me back to what someone said to me a few years ago. A friend of mine from church was also a policyholder. He and I had known each other for years. He and I had spent many hours together talking when he was going through some complicated family issues. Well, one day after some church meetings, a group of us were walking down the hall together when this friend turned to me and said, “So when you were a little boy did you want to grow up to be an insurance agent?” The statement was more of an indictment of my profession rather than a question. I quickly responded, “Well, you know, it’s funny you should ask. I remember once, when I was a young boy coming upon the scene of an auto accident with my father. As we drove by, I saw the mangled cars and injured people. I asked my Dad, ‘Dad, who will help those people with their cars and injuries?’. My dad told me it was an insurance agent. Since that time, I always wanted to be one”. Everyone laughed, including my friend. Of course, I had made the entire thing up, which they all knew. But I didn’t forget the sting of the implication he was making that the way I was making a living wasn’t “good enough” or “admired.”

So, after escorting my client out the door that day, I sat back down at my office desk. I couldn’t help but think that day I had been at that Steelworks “little beige metal desk” for nearly twenty-five years. It’s the same cheap metal desk I had inherited from the company when I had started. Perhaps clients came in and wondered why I didn’t aspire for more. Perhaps they left, chuckling to themselves about their agent behind his “little beige metal desk.” I hope they didn’t conclude who I am from the desk I sat behind, but rather, “by the content of my character.” (Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream”).

Sometimes, you can lose sight of what is most important in this life. I try not to, but that day I did. However, I quickly recovered because I had been taught better and knew better. That knowledge came from understanding the Lord’s plan and the eternal value of each spirit. It is a great blessing to know that if we drive “a little yellow dump truck” or sit behind a “little beige metal desk,” our value in the eyes of the Lord is equal to the most prominent professional in our communities. May we remember such when dealing with our fellowmen. Everyone is of equal value in the eyes of our loving Father!

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