I hate being misunderstood. I hate suspecting something about someone and having to wait in order to talk to them to get the truth.
I hate being in that uncomfortable place where what I am faced with or my thoughts are unresolved.
Saturday was our ‘day off’ – I put that in inverted commas because really it was not a day off and really we need to stop looking at it like that because when you have three children under 6, you are blessed to get an hour or two off – a day a week would be unthinkable!
We decided to go into the nicer part of Lima to see the flower show announcing the beginning of Spring here. We looked around at the beautiful flowers and the boys got restless and we thought about where we could go for a treat. Knowing there was a doughnut house just around the corner, we suggested the idea to the boys whose eyes lit up and their energy renewed all of a sudden.
We ordered 7 donuts for the 5 of us because it was cheaper than buying 4 separately (Kaleb being 1, doesn’t need a whole one yet!), and we began to eat.
A girl and her brother stood beside us with a cup, begging inside the café. I immediately felt angry for the children that their mother had sent them to beg on her behalf and looked around for the mother. About 30 seconds later she appeared and demanded that we give our spare two donuts to the children. Reacting to her indignant rudeness, we told her ‘no’ and she gathered up her children, cursing us as she left.
Now, our reaction was something that I have had to wrestle with a lot. Mainly because I know that if I had not been put on the spot, and if she had asked politely, I would have gladly given her the donuts – in fact, I would have been happy to buy them all their own – but in that moment, when I was caught off guard, on our ‘day off’ what came out was in fact a rotten testimony of Jesus.
In reaction to her rudeness and our judgment of her, we were unable to get past that and reach out in the opposite spirit. I mean, Jesus’ words say in Luke 6:28-30:
bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back
At the time I had felt set up. I felt like the lady had seen our white skin, seen our children and assumed we had loads of spare money.
Didn’t she know we are not rich tourists?
Then I felt bad because I knew the Jesus thing to do would have been to give them the donuts, despite the way she treated us, and I looked for her everywhere but she had gone.
A situation I would never be able to resolve.
How very uncomfortable.
It left me with a choice. Either to bury my shame and try and justify ourselves, or to wrestle with the uncomfortableness and let that lead me to think differently - to have true repentance.
Before I would have just ignored my feelings – too ashamed.
This time I choose to wrestle.
Even writing about what happened here is part of that wrestling.
But as I began to wrestle with my attitude and my knee-jerk reaction
(because God says what comes out of our mouth shows what is in our hearts)
, I see areas of my life that need some 180 degree repentance.
And that I need to be prepared so I am not caught off guard.
, I need to see my ‘day off’ as still a day when God can use me to minister and reach out to others – not just a day to switch off.
I need to be proactive in asking Him if there is anything special that He has for us that day, or even invite Him to use us on that day.
we need to create ‘extra’ in our lives specifically to be able to reach out to others
, so to speak, - for example, make sure we cook an extra meal or two so any unexpected visitors are welcomed not resented; to bring more food when we go to the park so we can share it with the other children around; set aside money aside from our tithe each month specifically to respond to situations that arise.
So now, although I hate the feelings of uncomfortableness
I am choosing to wrestle with them until I get a resolution. Until I see God break through and give me a response. And even if I end up limping, like Jacob, I will seek God.