The first day I saw her was when I walked into the Meat shop on Jackson street. She was standing behind the counter calculating the cost of four pounds of turkey for a customer. I smiled at her and said “hello,” but she glared back at me and continued what she was doing. I shrugged my shoulders and kept walking. Maybe she was having a bad day. Who knows? I picked up a shopping basket and proceeded down the second aisle.
As I put some packs of fresh beef in my basket I hummed to the lyrics of a song I had heard on the radio that morning, “When I think of You…and the world’s alright with me. Lord, just one thought of You…and I know it’s gonna be….a lovely day! Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day.”
I finished selecting what I wanted and went up to stand in line to pay for my meat. I was still humming and shaking my head. I must have looked like a joyful crack-head. After a few minutes of standing in line my turn came.
“Hello,” I said to the girl at the counter for the second time that day. I hoped she would respond this time and let my joy infect her.
“Ma’am, just put your stuff on the scale.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said smiling. “I forgot to do so.”
“Be sorry for yourself. Just put your stuff there. Hurry up ma’am. I don’t have all day.”
“I apologize,” I quickly muttered. “I didn’t mean to delay the line.”
“Like I said ma’am, keep it to yourself!” She talked so loudly that I was sure everyone else standing on the line heard.
I quickly arranged my beef on the scale. In that moment I felt as though the walls were closing in on me and choking me in the silent pangs of the room. I felt like wickedness had slowly sucked the life out of me and I was left with nothing more than the fragments of my earlier joy. The lyrics of “lovely day” were quickly wiped away my memory. I made my payments and hurried out of the store.
As I sat in my car I wondered what I had done to tick the store girl off. Was it something I said? Was it the previous customer? Why was she that rude? And unhappy?
This post was inspired by a question I received yesterday, “How do you forgive someone who’s hurt you again and again without them asking for forgiveness” (paraphrased). I think many times if we truly investigate why people are the way they are (harsh, hurtful, and unrelenting)…we will find out so many mouth-dropping hideous things in their lives. Bad things that happen are not an excuse for people to attack you or carry out all their frustrations on you. Still, you don’t need to always react to people at face value. You don’t need to react to their words or actions. Seeing past all that can help us forgive easily. You never know what people are going through. You may never understand how the child in them became the adult beast. Plus, we are not perfect ourselves…we’ve hurt other people too.
Maybe that’s why Jesus answered, “Forgive your brother seventy times seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22); Or why He said, “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold the tunic either” (Luke 6:29). You just never know how much someone needs your tunic. Just forgive the theft.
Question for the day: Do you feel that some people really are undeserving of your forgiveness?