Today was a pretty average day. Spent time catching up on laundry, taking kids to school, feeding hungry kids, dealing with moods, trying to tune out annoying sounds, craving adult conversation, picking up crumbs and massaging my neck. Yep, pretty normal. I didn’t spend as much time as I should have with God. I know this because spiritually I felt a bit lacking, but I left my heart open for when He would speak to me…especially when dealing with littles that have selective hearing.
So tonight I really couldn’t think of anything to write on and was going to take a pass for the day. Then as was sitting here working on an art project I have going (art is my therapy), a memory popped in my head. It’s a memory that comes back to me at the most random times. Nothing provokes it usually, it just comes to mind. Do you have that happen to you too? It’s not the most pleasant memory. It’s not something that I have a picture laying around where I would be reminded of it, it just comes to mind. So tonight, when I thought of it while I was humming a song that got stuck in my head, I stopped and wondered why on earth I would remember it.
When I was in fourth or fifth grade (I get those two grades confused), I had a teacher who was a wonderful philanthropist of sorts. He was my “hippy” teacher. He was a vegetarian, had long hair, always smiled, saved lab rats and kept them as class pets, and we were always being encouraged to do good deeds for others. During the fall we took on the task of delivering food to the needy that lived on the base where our school was. We were stationed in England at the time and the base we were on was different from your average Air Force base.
I was picked to go with my teacher and one other student to deliver food to this one house. Prior to arriving there, our teacher (Mr. Dearing) told us that the house may not be as nice and tidy as we are used to and it was simply because the man lived alone and was not able to keep up his home that easily. For what reason, exactly, I can’t remember. Anyway, we get to his front door and I remember there being stuff piled around in his yard, some trash here and there (something that was NOT permitted when living on an active duty Air Force Base…you got a ticket when your grass was not kept at the proper length). As we were standing there I remember saying “Wow. His home really is dirty. He needs to get out here and clean up!” Quick as a whip my teacher looked at me sternly and said, “That was very rude Jessica! We don’t ever say that. It’s not nice to make fun of the way someone lives.”
After he told me that, I had regretted ever making a comment. Normally I would not have said anything. It’s not like it was the first time I had ever seen a cluttered yard or a home that wasn’t pristine. I guess I just felt like we were sharing a common opinion and that it was ok to agree. That since our teach had made a comment on it, that it was ok for me to also. I was embarrassed because even my class mate looked at me like I was horrible for saying it and that was the first time I can remember actually feeling like I was a bad person. That there was something bad in me and that was the first time it had come out.
Over the years since then I have opened my mouth many times when I shouldn’t have. It seems the older I get the more it happens. However, lately, I have been actively trying to correct that character flaw. To form my thoughts before opening my mouth, to speak with wisdom rather than emotion, and most of all, to be more understanding of other people. To not do or say something simply because someone else suggested I do it, but rather to do what I feel God is telling me to do. To not allow my words or reactions to be the result of being provoked.
So tonight, when this memory popped in my head and I started to think about the “why,” I think it was because God is wanting me to use this memory. Not to use it as a “reminder” that I’m a bad person, but to use it as a learning lesson as I go on my journey of being a better listener, of being more compassionate, and of being more understanding of other people’s feelings. That there’s a reason I can remember that conversation and day so clearly. I just had to be smacked up side the head with it a few times… (I’m envisioning God swinging a cold, dead, mackerel at the back of my head right now…*giggle)
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. Proverbs 15:1-2
Tags: compassion, Encouragement, Faults, Flaws, God, Humble, Kindness, Learning, Lessons, Love, Mistakes, past, Speak, Truth
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