I had a really good morning. I mean, really good.
I walked into my office and voila! I had a trashcan. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I moved to a new office a few months ago and did not have a trashcan; I was in an office short-term before that and didn’t take the can that was in there when I moved, and the new office didn’t have one. So, since moving in I used a large plastic bag hung on the back of my office door. The housekeeping folks were very kind and each morning when I arrived the bag would be empty of my daily refuse. It worked fine and then, as I said, I walked in this morning and voila! a trashcan. With plastic liner and everything. Bliss, I tell you.
I work at a university that celebrates the beginning of the year with a day of spiritual emphasis; the purpose of the day is to allow all of us who work here to get realigned with our faith objective as a part of this community. We have worship time (which I cry through), a time in the Word (which I cry through), a time of personal reflection and prayer with communion (which I cry through), lunch (don’t cry through that, usually), and a final time of worship and commissioning into the new semester (which I cry through). It was a powerful morning.
But I went into the day with a plan: I would walk down to the event (activity points! Yay-yuh!), and since my son is growing like a late-blooming flower I would stop at the local discount clothing store (which is right on my path back to the office; Yay-yuh!) and pick him up a couple pairs of jeans. All was going according to plan: I cried through the morning, the sun was out, the day was crisp, and I had jeans to buy. As I approached the intersection to cross over to the side of the street where the discount store is located, I was verbally accosted by a demoniac.
This woman was possessed, like for real-honest-and-true-demon-in-her-like-the-Bible-says-in-the-Gospels. She could not stand still and was shouting obscenities at anything moving. And then she saw me. Obviously, I raised the wrath of whatever was causing turmoil within her; she called me a @*%er *^%ch (Hint: first word rhymes with “bigger,” second word rhymes with “witch”). Not once. Not twice. At least four times. Remember, I had a plan? At this stage of the plan, I would cross the intersection in a southerly direction, then cross again in a westerly direction in order to attain the discount clothing store. As I walked toward the crossing button (you know, the thing you mash incessantly, when once will do, to alert the traffic signal to your presence), she began shouting and carrying on as indicated above, with the lovely “bigger witch”
(not) phrase interspersed with “I’ll bust you in the head. Yeah, you, bigger witch.”
To hopefully avoid her, I redirected my plan to move in a westerly crossing first, which put my back to her. Which did nothing to stop her yelling. I withered across the intersection and when appropriate, crossed in the southerly direction and made my way dejectedly to the discount clothing store.
I was able to find what I needed and went to the counter. I was greeted by a pleasant young man who asked me how my day was going, at which point I simply gushed, “Well, I was yelled at by a terrible crazy woman at the intersection; she called me all sorts of things. Very unpleasant, but I didn’t have time for all that–I had to come buy jeans for my son!” We smiled at each other as he wearily shook his head and replied, “Oh, I understand; some people’s New Year has not turned out as they wanted. I have been called all sorts of things here.”
Did you catch it?
I had come to the counter, undone by the conviction of my morning, rejuvenated by the fabulous sharing at the work event, and completely undone by the cruel yelling of the crazy woman, only to be completely completely undone by the humility of this young man at the counter who rang up my son’s jeans. I had insults hurled at me for the length of time it took me to cross a part of an intersection, while this young man has insults hurled at him for hours out of his week while he serves customers at the discount clothing store.
The insults I received were from an obviously unwell woman. The insults he receives are from supposedly sane shoppers.
I am no longer undone. At least not by that.
God is fabulous at bringing real situations into our line of vision when we get off-course. I thought I had been undone by one unwell woman’s ugly, only to be reminded by a kind young man that he is holding his head up high despite attempts to undo him that come from many people’s ugly. I left the store with my purchase and again went out into the sunny, crisp day to walk back to my office. I hope to remember him, and his experience the next time I feel undone by the ugly (please pray that my sieve-like memory holds up for this one…).
Here’s hoping that your day is fabulous and that you will not be undone by the ugly. Better yet, here’s hoping that you won’t be the ugly that undoes someone else.