I witnessed something which was, quite frankly, appalling in the parking lot of the grocery store today.
A nice older couple strolled up to the trunk of their car and began loading groceries just as I pulled into the empty space beside them. They smiled at me, and smiled even bigger as my son began waving.
I turned my attention to the pressing matter of a grilled chicken sandwich purchased to sustain me through this shopping trip. ‘Twas delicious.
The couple had just closed their trunk and gotten settled about the same time I was crinkling up my wrapper and getting out of the car to situate my children. A very delicate business as I have to retrieve a basket, sit my son in the top portion, push the basket around to the other side and snug the two month old into his wrap.
It was about this time a load of expletives suddenly went off like a bomb and ricocheted off every car and available piece of blacktop in the parking lot.
And not mild expletives mind you.
I’m talking about a Bruce Willis movie on steroids.
It was another couple who were loading their groceries now shouting down the friendly couple as they backed out of the parking space.
I can’t tell you what happened. I don’t know if they reversed and came close to hitting this couple. I can’t tell you if that seemingly sweet old man flipped them the bird first.
I can tell you that he and his wife looked wildly confused with a touch of terrified as they drove away.
And the other couple continued to curse and spew and wave their arms until their car was around the corner headed for anywhere but there.
And the angry man and woman? They quieted down and actually high-fived. They were proud of their reaction, proud of this horrendous parking lot display.
Shocked and shaken, trying to avoid becoming the next target of their twisted justice, I made my way into the store, chewing my lip and trying to make sense of it all.
And as He always does, the Holy Spirit began working on my heart. Changing my thoughts from What could they do better into What can I do better.
We all have bad days. People mistreat us at least once a day. Oftentimes more.
And usually we take it veeeerryyyy personally.
Um, excuse me, what did I ever do to you that you would be so unkind and thoughtless towards me?
But when the situation is reversed and we do something unkind or thoughtless– Well, I’m having a bad day. They don’t know about this, this, and this, that I’ve had to deal with already.
Granted, this couple expressed themselves much more loudly and publicly than most of us do on one of those “bad days”, but is that any excuse?
I guess what I’m getting at is this:
Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Are you walking in love? Is your temper even? Do you expect others to forgive your crappy mood but refuse to offer the same grace when others need it?
I know I do. But can you do something with me? Can you make some allowances for another person’s humanity?
I’m not asking you to be a door mat. I’m asking you to think hard about where their attitude is coming from. Just put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Turn the other cheek and then genuinely pray that God would ease some of their burdens and lift their spirit. And most importantly, don’t let their ten seconds of unkindness become contagious. Someone has to be the bigger person.
Let’s all put on love.