It happened one chilly April morning. I found myself locked out of our new home with no spare key hidden under any fake rock. I was a total unwashed mess, underdressed in a thin T-shirt, wearing rainboots, and supposed to let my new cleaning lady into my house in just a short while.
A few good things came out of my mouth—before the sassy. When I realized my situation, I loudly exclaimed to a passerby named Cheryl,* “I think I just locked myself out of my house!”
This was good—because I was willing to share my need in a moment of weakness in spite of looking like a bag lady.
Then I asked Cheryl if she would accompany me to my new walking partner Janet’s* house so that I could borrow a jacket and take our scheduled walk. (rainboots aren’t great for long walks but at least mine were cute.)
Arriving at Janet’s and explaining my predicament, I introduced these new friends to one another. Turned out that Cheryl lived catty-corner to Janet! So close they could borrow a cup of sugar someday.
This was good—because I saw past the problem to a positive “opportunity.” (connecting two “random” people)
While Janet walked and I plodded alongside her, we processed my plight. I DID have an extra house key with my next door neighbor, Diane,* but she was out of town, possibly in a much earlier timezone. So I did NOT call her.
This was good—because even though my problem was one that needed immediate attention, it was not dire; the timing might be unwelcome so it could wait to be shared.
Then Janet suggested I call a locksmith. Eureka! Why hadn’t I thought of that? Thankfully I had my phone and the name of a reliable locksmith. And he could be there in 15 minutes!
While waiting for the locksmith, Janet and I hung out on my front porch. She shared how so many in our new ‘hood were NOT picking up after their dogs. (Back in the day, I was a card-carrying member of The Cockapoo Club. (see sidebar/click on pics to enlarge) We walked Tiki, Annie, and Macy for years together and lamented how those other people left their pups’ poop far and wide, probably slinking away under cover of darkness.)
But I digress. Back to the porch conversation. That’s when the terrible awful happened. And I don’t mean in the next few moments as we watched a woman and a big dog stop long enough for the dog to do you know what, after which the woman scurried away, leaving behind the dog’s “DNA.”
Yes, that was bad, but possibly not her fault. A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do and maybe she had run out of bags. If only I had thought of that possibility first. Before I got sassy.
But no. Instead, I cupped my hands over my mouth and yelled, “HEY! PICK UP YOUR DOG’S POOP!”
This was bad—very bad indeed! I had assumed the worst and jumped to conclusions and shared it, loudly. (When our kids were young, one of our “family rules” specified that “we will NOT jump to conclusions.”)
She glared at me and yelled back, “Hey! I ran out of bags! I’m coming back.”
I gave her a big thumbs up and yelled, “SOOOORRRRRYYY!!”
Janet and I discussed the possibility that she would NOT return, she was JUST SAYING that. But she did, and after she picked up her dog’s business, she held up the bag to show me she had kept her word. She was not smiling.
Wow. How to win friends and influence people, right?
I called out, “I am so sorry for yelling at you!” I crossed the street, profusely apologizing as I made my way toward her.
She looked concerned—after all, to her eyes, I was an unwashed, crazy lady wearing rainboots on a sunny day. She quickly waved me off and said, “That’s OK.”
But I persisted, looking her in the eye, continuing my mea culpa, “No, it’s not OK.”
I sheepishly smiled and asked her to please forgive me, for my lack of tact and making a wrong assumption. I explained that I was new to the ‘hood, hadn’t slept well, un-caffeinated, locked out of my house, and my friend Janet had JUST been talking about the Neighborhood Poop Problem when the whole incident went down—but still no excuse for my rudeness.
I introduced myself, asked her name and petted sweet Ginger. I told her it had happened to me before—running out of bags before Macy had completely finished her morning constitutional.
It’s humbling to be a woman behaving badly when I know better. It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last. Deep Sigh.
A wise mentor once shared, “There’s no one to marry but another sinner.” Every single one of us, from Mother Teresa to the sweetest person you know, are “sinners.” It’s not a popular word. Some prefer “broken.” Broken people.
We may be just fine most of the time, but no one other than Jesus lived and died “tempted yet without sin.” We visibly (or audibly) display the brokenness that results from being disconnected to our creator in a variety of ways. Even as a Jesus follower, we can disconnect, wander away momentarily, get tripped up by our pet peeves. I sure did.
Why am I sharing this true confession? Because being honest about my failures—not only to God—but to others is helpful. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (I’m counting on you, people, to pray for me!!)
I am so grateful that Jesus forgave me. Past, present and future. Apart from staying connected to Him, I can do nothing purely good, untainted by pride or selfish motives. So I need His forgiveness—a lot!
I am so grateful for the gift of His indwelt Spirit, given to a pitiful, prideful party girl who is far from perfect. Given only because I believe He is who He says He is and choose to let Him into my life. If I walk in the Spirit, my life will look more like Jesus and I will be a better neighbor, friend, wife, mom. (find out who Jesus claimed to be by reading the Gospel of John)
I hope Ginger’s owner forgave me. Even so, she may think I am a total fruitcake, one-minute yelling and the next being all sweetness and light. That perception might only be undone bit by bit and through the work of God. I don’t know where she lives, but with a little detective work, I aim to find out. I may not be wearing my cute rainboots; I may not even have the guts to knock on the door, but either way, I hope to leave behind more than a bad first impression!
- * Names changed to protect the innocent
- ** The Help, a 2011 favorite film, describes Minnie’s “terrible awful.”
- “Sassy” used in a sentence.
Rooted In Truth Scriptures: this 5-day Devo, Will you act or react? points us to God’s word and helps us to “live so you have no regrets.”
Growing In Love Practical Application: When we walk by the Spirit, we will display the fruit of the Spirit; kind words and actions will result. It’s a moment by moment choice. Strengthen yourself with this insightful interview. Listen or watch; it’s all good.
Changing Your Relationships Through The Power of Kindness – Shaunti Feldhahn