One of the things I like about my hermit-like existence is that I have time to consider what I hear. Yesterday, I had three conversations with different people. Now that may not seem like much to you, but for me that's a lot since I can sometimes go for several days without speaking to anyone.
The first conversation wasn't very nice because the other person was feeling testy and taking that annoyance out on me. I didn't do anything to deserve that, although some of what was said was true.
I did not respond in kind but then I almost never do; my default self-defense is not to defend. But I thought about this conversation quite a lot afterward. In the past, I have always taken myself to task severely when someone else has been offensive. This time, though, I thought something completely new: I liked myself for remaining calm. And I realized that someone was missing out on getting to know the interesting person I have become.
The second conversation involved remembering an incident that happened several years ago when I was watching my friend's pawn shop while he was out of town for the day. In all his years as a broker, my friend had never had a customer or a situation like the one I faced that day. The customer wanted to redeem his pawned gun but legally I could not give it to him because he was in breach of regulations. This was not unusual but his reaction was. For the next five hours (yes, hours) that man raged and bullied me and called the police on me twice. I was alone in that store, and it was my responsibility to protect it. I stood my ground and refused to budge an inch.
When I talked to my pawn broker friend yesterday, he said, "I know you pray but if you were doing it right, don't you think that God would have spared you that experience?"
"No," I told my friend, "I do not. God doesn't protect us from the bad things in life but He does give us the tools to prepare us for them. I prayed all the time that day that God would sustain me in what I had to do. That prayer was answered. I don't have to ask for bad things not to happen but I can thank God for being with me while they do. And I can trust that He has already given me the skills I need to cope."
For many years, I was bullied very badly (although I would prefer not to say by whom or what happened). God did not spare me that but He helped me to endure. On that dreadful day in the pawn shop, God used that past experience to show me how to deal with a very angry man. And I realized how grateful I was for those terrible old times that had taught me to be strong when I really needed to be.
The third conversation took place when I stopped at my favorite local grocery on the way home. Two very nice young checkout clerks were discussing the ferocious weather we had the other day, and I mentioned my prayer experience with the hail storm while I was driving--how I was hollering thank you to God while I was also telling Him that I was not enjoying the ride. One of the girls laughed kindly and said that she was reminded of something her boyfriend said to her.
He asked if she realized just how many doorways she passed through every day. She couldn't be sure but she knew that it must be a great many. Then he said, "What would happen if you made a point of thinking something positive every time you went through a doorway? Not just something positive for yourself but something good about someone else, a prayer or a hope for someone."
I sincerely thanked her for that and promised that I would think about it. And I am. I will.
- how we respond to others and to ourselves,
- how we see our relationship with God,
- how we reach out with hope and goodness.
Life is good.