Heading home from a work trip, I was waiting in a hotel lobby in Singapore when a young man pushed his way to the counter to check out. He seemed in a hurry and I presumed that he was rushing to the airport for a flight. Perhaps he was late. With some short remarks and a few grunts he managed to sign what was required, order himself a taxi and take a phone call; all without making eye contact with the receptionist who was assisting him. His last gesture was a flick of his hand as he walked away from her.
I paid attention to the staffer’s reaction and hoped to catch her eye and give her a nod that said “I’m sorry on behalf of that stranger. You didn’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect”. She glanced at me, and we managed to make that silent exchange.
By the time I had watched the way he had dealt with an older hotel staff member who was helping him load his luggage into the limousine transfer, I hoped I would never have to endure this man again nor the coldness that he displayed. I tried to shake off my annoyance as I jumped into my transportation. My taxi hadn’t shown up, so I used one that had just delivered a hotel customer. He looked like a private driver.
Philip offered me a bottle of water and a smile as I settled in. Then he spent the twenty-minute journey to the airport showing me pictures of his famous clients, proudly displaying the phone number of Janet Jackson’s husband and a bunch of actors that I didn’t know. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t know most of his clients because I was already impressed with Philip.
He told me that he had been driving for a family (the one that he had just dropped off) for over seven years. Among stories of their generosity to him and his family, we spoke about a generosity of spirit.
“They are very wealthy” followed by “I’ve never met such humble people”.
I was pleased to spend time with Philip. He allowed me to forget about the meanness and displays of entitlement I had witnessed earlier. We talked about how Jesus served people when he was on earth, and Philip believed that Jesus was the best example of how we should serve one another. I got the sense that this little gem of a revelation was the reason for the love he had for his work. His tagline was “I love my life, and I want others to love life too”. When I pressed him some more about his happiness, he explained to me that if you are happy on the inside, then you can’t help but act the way that he does. It seemed like a simple sum. According to Philip, serving people and kindness is a product of his “happy heart”.
On my flight, I got thinking about the scripture that says “from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”. It matched perfectly with Philip’s words. It’s why we pray that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in God’s sight.
We all long to love our lives. We long for the key to happiness.
If Philip was right about his actions being somewhat automatic because he already knew deep happiness in life, then I guessed that the same could be said for my friend in the hotel – but in reverse. I sensed that his actions carried a stronger connection to his “unhappy heart”. They were a product of that heart. Certainly no excuse for his bad behaviour but maybe an insight into his brokenness.
I wanted my heart attitude to make enough noise that my actions bore witness to it. To be happy from the inside out. That would mean that I needed to keep checking myself deeply and asking God to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.