Holding the Umbrella

A few years ago, when I was working at a girls’ school, I used to dread the ‘morning duty’. I don’t particularly mind morning duties usually, but at this school it required a lot of effort. During the winter months we would need to stand out in the cold, waiting for the cars to arrive at the ‘kiss and drop’ station. Then we had to open the door for the child, help them get out of the car, open the boot of the car, get their schoolbag and other items for them, and all while holding our umbrella over their head to make sure they didn’t get rained on. This, of course, was to make sure the parents didn’t need to get out of the car to help their child. By the end of each round of porter duty, we would be cold and wet and were expected to begin the normal school day. To make it even less motivating, this luxury service was simply expected by most of the parents and students. I rarely heard a thank you. I sometimes even got funny looks if I took too long to open the car door. Often tempted to roll my eyes, I would walk away from the ‘kiss and drop’ station at the end of the duty glad that it was finally over, thinking to myself how completely unnecessary

Looking back though, I wish that I had shifted my attitude about those morning duties. And I have come to see the experience as a good analogy for a lot of other not-so-glamorous yet important tasks that I am faced with. You see, holding the umbrella for someone means that you might get yourself wet, but that’s kind of the point. 

When we go about life thinking only of ourselves, every little inconvenience seems like a big deal. When we’re distracted and trying to do what we’ve set out to do, we can see anything that interrupts us as a ‘waste of time’. When we think we are too important to do jobs that require humility, we can take things like spending the morning out in the rain personally. I don’t want to live life like that.

So, what can we learn from all of this? We can learn that our attitude towards ‘holding the umbrella’ for others reveals where our priorities are. If we find that we are tempted to view interruptions to our day as inconvenient, then we can ask God to work in our hearts, helping us to make a shift towards humbling ourselves for the sake of showing love to others. As teachers, we can be the ones to serve the school community without complaining, just because we recognise that some opportunities only come around occasionally and so we should make the most of them. As parents, we can embrace the fact that sometimes ‘getting nothing done’ for the day means that it was actually a day well spent. A day spent accepting and perhaps even enjoying the interruptions that make life worthwhile. A day spent consoling a toddler who hurt their finger, playing reconciliation coach for siblings that had a disagreement or rocking a baby to sleep for the umpteenth time. When we do these things, not only does it shape our character, but it displays love to others, which is what we’re called to do.

Therefore, let’s hold those umbrellas out and learn to enjoy the rain. If we all did that, just imagine how different the world would be.  

If you’d like to read more of my musings, take a look at this post, where I share my thoughts about history.

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