I am constantly reminded of just how imperfect I am. One thing I do believe about myself is that I love people. I try to be understanding to their issues and hope I can get the same in return. I also try to accept people where they are in life because God accepts me where I am. Now, that being said I also know I fail miserably at this often enough.
Last week was one of those times. I, Michelle Jester, called a stranger a bad name to her face in a public place with witnesses. Lots of witnesses and a horribly bad name. Many of you will laugh about this because you know me but some of you will not find the humor. And I totally understand. After talking to my husband and kids, best friend, sister and mother-in-law about it and having them all laugh apologetically (and with a bit of sympathy) I decided to share.
Before I divulge my glory moment I’d like to flashback to a previous one. Larry and I were playing cards with friends at their house one evening. Soon the stress was on and it was getting quite competitive. I was cool under the pressure yet the moment someone beat me in a play, from some mysterious place that I hadn’t tapped into for a while, I screamed a curse word. We all sat in silence for a few moments and then started laughing. Well, they were all laughing, I was mortified. Soon though I began to laugh along with them.
My best excuse is that I live with a man who curses. He doesn’t hide or deny it. Granted he can control it so as to not offend his mother, but she knows he curses. He’s honest like that. Living with him is my best excuse, even to myself, because it makes it difficult to fight off the impulse.
In any case that situation with friends was different in that I wasn’t responding directly to a person.
The day that happened last week was overall a good one. I worked a little that morning and had lunch with my husband after he picked me up from dropping my car to be serviced. Then he brought me to retrieve my car. Nothing major there. Made another appointment and, smiling, I left the dealership. I had two stops to make on the way home for an early Friday off; Hancock Fabrics and CVS. Hancock Fabrics went smoothly and that’s where my real story begins…in the CVS parking lot. Why did I go into such detail about my day? It was happily simple up to that point.
I am backing out of my parking space when I hear a horn blowing. I immediately look behind me and see another vehicle. I wave, apologize for the near accident and turn around to go on my way. Only the car wouldn’t move from behind me. I turned around again to see the older woman fussing at me. While I know she heard my apology through our open windows and I know I heard her ranting, I also do understand nonverbal communication and the anger that stems from the fear of near accidents. So it was pretty bad. I waved again and apologized. She laid on her horn a second time. Side note: I don’t use my horn much; only for extremes. It’s just rude and confrontational. Finally she finished talking/fussing/screaming and just sat there behind my car making sure I couldn’t move, with a smirk on her face. Ok, so now I’m getting ticked a bit off. After what seemed a few more minutes (was truly probably only a few more seconds) I find myself angry. Side note #2: I don’t like to be cornered and I immensely don’t like it when you are amused by it. I open my door to get out to confront her when she finally drives forward and I back out. I am now behind her and angry, however, when she slammed on her brakes it propelled me into the furious category. There was no chance of me hitting her because I wasn’t close enough to do so. Which meant she did it just to be a… well, I’ll save that for a moment… So, she seemed truly shocked when I pulled in behind her at the pharmacy window and got out. Since her window was conveniently down and she was talking to the pharmacy (which was packed with people) I proceeded to angrily inquired as to why, when I had apologized and waved over a near ACCIDENT she would be a… (hold your breath)… **insert really bad word here** about it (a tad bit anti-climactic without the actual word).
Of course it didn’t end there. She yelled that she thought I’d flipped her off instead of apologizing. Where I truly thought to myself if I were going to flip someone off it WOULD probably be her. In any case she then added something like “And you got out of your car and approached me for that lady?” I spouted another really bad word as I was walking away when she screamed “I’ll be praying for you!” To which I turned around and hatefully responded with something like “Oh paah-leeease… YOU pray for me. Really? You?” If the look on her face were any indication she was immensely affronted by that last jab.
It’s easy to blame it on the fact that maybe she was just a bitter old woman. But truth is maybe she really did think I flipped her off. Not so wise to push your luck with a woman who you think just flipped you off, but some people feel protected by their cars enough to do stuff like that. I’m the person who feels comfortable getting out of my car to confront those people. I know it’s irrational.
Side note #3: I hate the “I’m going to use God to tell you how bad you are and what a Christian I am” thing that people do. It doesn’t make you look more like a Christian to use God against people. In all fairness I guess I could’ve left off the mocking comment I threw in there at the end. However, as a very weak defense, it was instinctive. In honesty, I wish it would not have been.
By the time I was driving away I didn’t feel that glorious feeling that ‘honest’ people like my husband must feel all the time. I didn’t feel like I’d just been ‘myself’ or said what ‘needed to be said’. I felt horrible. Then it hit me harder that she really did look bedraggled (see how I threw that in for fun. Yeah, I’m pathetic.) Then another hit: she was in the pharmacy line. Then deep remorse. While losing my temper doesn’t happen often, it happens…and it’s not a pretty sight. You can bet that the ‘event’ is always guaranteed to be a lifelong tale that my family and friends dredge up at every holiday.
While I prayed for myself yet again in hopes of one day overruling the array of seriously bad curse words that are lurking inside me, I truly prayed for her too. Not mockingly of course.
Hopefully, the next person that decides to corner me in a parking lot won’t open my hidden thesaurus. Unfortunately, they might.
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” — Ecclesiastes 7:20
“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.” — Proverbs 21:2
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” — Psalm 141:3
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 1:8-9
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” — Ephesians 4:29
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