I know you get this one… somebody says something kind of snarky to you, and you think of the perfect comeback, like three hours later. My problem isn’t usually in this arena. My religious upbringing was very much self-indulgent, anti-organized anything with a heavy influence of sarcasm. I learned how to wield a double entendre with a true master, my mother… but I never realized the impact that a double meant comment could have on others, that wasn’t part of my education until later.
I had moments growing up where I fumbled for a quick reply that came out more like a stutter than a smooth retort. I ended up becoming the butt of my own jokes, despite the fact that in my head I always had the quick reply. Then the pendulm of life swung in my favor, I was the queen in training of sarcastic annhilation. None were safe, I had acheived a miniscule triumph over the stuttering and I was so witty.
It wasn’t until later, when I heard one of my own offhanded remarks from years previous, did I realize that I was contributing to the woundedness of my own friends. Funny for the moment, the words we speak have a lasting echo in our hearts, for good or evil. I was once again speechless. How can I undo my words to a friend? An apology, much overdue, did not salvage her heart towards me. Time and God will heal; but I still get the pleasure of remembering her face when she handed my words back to me and the voice that I knew was mine still rings in my ears. I am so small.
Now, weird things are happening again. I have discovered the balance of sarcasm and friendship, or love. You can be witty, you can be funny… but never when it is at someone else’s expense. I am sure my foot still gets caught in my teeth, but I genuinely try to catch it before it knocks them in. So, now conversations occur, the words pop in my head, but they don’t always leave my mouth and despite knowing the devastation words can cause, I still wonder about God’s hand in the unspoken.
Here’s the example. I meet ‘Dude’, I know only a couple of things about him, one of which is that he did my friend wrong… but there are a couple of other things that should make me more compassionate towards him. I am so not feeling it towards him. He hurt my friend, she’s on my ‘list’… the list in my heart of people I will not allow to be mistreated… so no mercy, no compassion, please can I just annihilate him now?! no. I know, no.
ANYWAY. I meet Dude, he is pleasant to me, we shake hands, he invites me to join them for dinner and proceeds to describe what he is making to eat. It sounds very, um, nice. But there is this voice in my head that SO wants to squish him and his little prideful dinner plans. It goes something like this, “Um, no thanks. Your homemade Italian chicken strips and salad sound delicious, but I have leftovers at home. What? No, I said leftovers. It’s grilled flank steak with a bacon balsamic reduction with fresh marinated beets with feta and a lemon couscous. Are those tears little man? That right, my cooking is SO superior to yours, pathetic poser!”
Okay, the last bit was a little overdone, I don’t remember actually thinking out loud, in my head, that he was a poser of any nature, but you get the idea. I did think the rest though, and almost disdainfully said it… why? And I guess more importantly, why didn’t I say it out loud? Obviously my friend wouldn’t have liked it, but it was bigger than that and I knew it, but for the first couple miles as I drove away I didn’t know exactly why.
As I drove away, I was haunted by this man’s eyes. There was a deep and profound sadness echoing in his there and a shadow of spiritual warfare hanging over his head like I couldn’t believe. Just to clarify, I didn’t see demons floating around him with my eyes, but there was some kind of ‘something’ that has attached itself to him like a noose. And his pride in describing what he was making for dinner, was so tenuous and genuine, that for me to squish him would have been beyond rude, it would have been heartless and so unnecessary.
Like I am somehow the moral majority that I should should crush him for my own pleasure is just cruel and shameful. I am a better person than that, Christianity aside, I know better. Even now two days later, I can see those wounded eyes and they just call out to my heart.
please. please. hear me. i have nothing to give. i am nothing. here is my small portion. let me share it with you. can you see me? i am lost.
Who am I God that I should ride in and forget my own small portion? Are we not all lost? Do we not all desire to be loved and accepted and do we not all fear the same cruel rejection that I myself so nearly handed out?
Those moments where the words get stuck in your head, Praise God. May He bind my jaw against evil. Let the words flow freely that reflect His mercy, not mine. Because mine is not right or perfect, not even close. I prayed the whole way home for this man, and hopefully I learn from the blessing of this encounter.
2 Samuel 14:17
“And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king bring me rest, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.”