…I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Matthew 6:25-27 (NLT)
Several weeks ago I got one of THOSE letters from the Social Security Administration.
It’s opening message:
We are writing to give you new information about the retirement benefits which you receive on this Social Security record. In the rest of this letter, we will tell you:
· How we paid you $3,456.80 too much in benefits
The letter went on to explain I had two options:
1. Repay in 30 days
2. Have them stop sending my check until it’s all paid off.
It cost me two days of running back and forth to the Social Security office, digging through my records, phone calls and a long conversation with the lady who does my taxes….and the case was resolved. It was a mistake!
(In case you will die of curiosity if I don’t tell you….here’s why the fuss: ministers are considered self-employed by the IRS, so we file our taxes that way. But United Methodist ministers are “employees” of the UMC, and receive a W-2. The Social Security folks saw “employee wages” and “self-employment earnings” and figured I had two jobs….doubling my income….and, therefore putting me over the Social Security maximum earnings cap for 2012. Aren’t you glad you asked?)
Even though it only took a few days to straighten out the mess, I must confess that I worried…a lot! Jesus said, Don’t do that!
The Social Security Admin auditor who handled my case was a dead-ringer for Whoopi Goldberg. She also looked very skeptical and tweaked when I first arrived on Tuesday. It was this kind of look:
I figured looking at complaining people through those “glass bars” all day must wear you down. I pointed to those glass bars and asked if anyone ever gets angry; she said, you have noooooo idea! (She even sounded like Whoopi).
Somehow my problem had become smaller than the agitation she was putting up with all day, every day. So I told her (only half-joking) that I would behave, and then I asked her to help me understand what went wrong.
She told me to go home and get receipts, forms and bring back my taxes. When I left I smiled and said, I appreciate your help. She smiled a little, so I pushed the envelope and asked, aren’t you glad I didn’t try to bite you? (big smile).
I returned on Thursday and Whoopi’s greeting look had changed dramatically; this time she even seemed glad to see me:
For You, Today…
If you spend too much time worrying you’ll miss opportunities to brighten someone’s day.
Don’t let that happen.