Heart races, muscles tighten, mind tenses; “I must finish this so I can get on to the next thing!” Hurrying- it’s one of the biggest problems I see in myself, that is when I slow down enough to see it. I don’t know when or how it started in me. Probably it’s prompted by my desire to please, my drive to excel, my fear that life will pass me by and I’ll miss the best parts. The irony is that no one is pleased with an uptight woman, excellence without peace isn’t excellent, and life lived in a rush isn’t lived fully.
Last Tuesday I left the boys with Geryll and hurried through the rain to Big Lots for paper clips. I hate that cluttered store, but it's nearby and has clips. As I grabbed a box it's flimsy packaging immediately gave way. Clips flew everywhere. Wanting to kick them aside, I instead bent and picked them up, figuring this is what a Christian lady should do: care about the person who has to clean them up rather than her own hurry.
Clips back in package I reached for another box. The same thing happened. Again, this Christian lady quickly gathered them.
At the front of the store I dashed to an open register. Three cashiers stood by talking. One turned to me snapping, “Go over there, there isn’t anyone at this register. It’s not open.”
My disgusted response came before I could bite my tongue, “It sure looks like it is.”
Seething in the long line, I vowed, "This is the last time I’m shopping here. If they want customers they need to be nicer than all that. This only confirms my dislike of this store.”
So much for that nice Christian lady.
When I reached the checkout the cashier said, “You don’t look impressed.”
Embarrassed, I muttered something about being in a hurry.
At home I begged my God forgiveness. What if the cashier was the mom of a Kid’s Club student? What if she showed up at my church and recognized me?
I scolded myself realizing my thoughts toward the store personnel applied to me too. If I want people to "shop at my store" and love the Jesus I love I need to be return evil with good. My actions may have only confirmed that woman's bad opinion of Mennonites.
God is a God of redemption but I couldn’t see how He could redeem this. My head knew He forgave me, but my heart didn’t feel it. I know better than to kick myself –after all, no one is perfect- but I still did.
In Sunday School on Sunday my friends shared beautiful testimonies of things they did because of the life of Jesus in them. My mouth stayed shut while my heart pounded. Finally the last five minutes of class I admitted the truth about Big Lots.
With confession came redemption. One woman said, “Don’t go to shame. Things like this remind us that we need to do good out of the life of Jesus in us, not on our own strength.” Still more sisters hugged and affirmed me.
I’d still take back my harsh words to the cashier, but I’d never take back that experience of love and mercy. I still hurry. A half hour ago I had to force myself to sit and journal because I’d rather be working. But, I sit in reflection because I am begging God to help me be calm at the core, always aware of His life in me. So, if you meet me and I’m rushing, just say, “Jesus is in you Carla. He can handle everything. Operate out of His life in you.”