Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Other Day

It was our anniversary - six years (yeah!). We decided to go on an exploration trip to a nearby town and walk around in the mall there. When we arrived, the parking lot at the mall was somewhat crowded - guess everyone was trying to get in out of the heat - but I found a parking place fairly close to the Barnes & Noble entrance door. In fact there were two open, side by side. Before I turned off the engine, I spotted yet another place even closer (another 30 feet). So I backed out and headed toward that spot only to find it was occupied by a motorcycle that I could not see until I got closer. No problem - "I'll just go back to the one I just was in."

I circled around to go back and when I arrived, one of the parking spots was taken, so I slipped into the other one and did not notice a woman waiting in another car. She apparently thought that place belonged to her. As I exited the car, still oblivious to my infraction, the woman in the car next to me, who had also just parked, began to chide me for sneaky unfairness in getting her friend's parking place. At the same time the lady in the car who I had apparently cut off pulled in behind me, rolled down her window and was shouting out, "Guilty! Guilty!" I was stunned by the sudden attention I was getting from these two irate ladies. Obviously neither one knew the whole truth about this situation. I attempted to explain, but the woman in the car next to me was almost shouting pointing out how her friend had been waiting for that spot and I had just cut her off and it was not right and "blah, blah, blah!" I could not get a word in edgewise. Through the noise of their ranting I shouted, "I DON'T CARE!" And we headed toward the store feeling a little uneasy about leaving the car with hostiles about.

We poked around for a few minutes in the store; I was still riled from the encounter - then we both decided that we could not leave the car with the possibility of harm - so our "mall-walking" adventure was curbed in favor of a drive through the countryside. So we left. Making our way along a country road, I began to reflect on what had just happened - I realized that I had blown an opportunity. Hadn't Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers?" The truth, I reasoned at first, was that that parking place was rightfully mine. Those women were in the wrong. But then I began to see that the real truth was that I was a stubborn ass and in the crunch of the moment, belligerence came easy. The real me came out because my focus was not on what Jesus would have done, but on the fact that "I was right and they were wrong." I blew the opportunity that I had been given to show compassionate mercy and love and instead demonstrated hateful indifference; and over something that did not matter in the least.

Oh God, I am such a sinner. Change my heart from callous uncaring to compassionate concern even in the small things of life. I felt so ashamed of my behavior. The words of the Psalmist came to mind, "Unto Thee O LORD, do I lift up my soul! O my God, I trust in Thee; let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me!" (Psalm 25:1-2)


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