Yesterday, I went to the local cafe to write. I sit in the back where all the employees congregate, gossip and chit-chat. I usually try to keep my head down, but this time my eyes got the better of me. I couldn’t help but watch and listen.
A man marched through the front door. Chest up, he huffed and puffed all the way to to the back full of disdain at what he saw laying around him. Immediately grabbing a napkin and wiping a chair, he proceeded to attack the mess. He also decided to speak out from under his breath, saying, “This place is a mess.” He wanted his co-workers to hear. They did. Loud and clear.
Each belabored move to tackle crumbs, tables and spills, was all a message telling them, “You aren’t on it, but I am.”
A minute later, he pointed out two chairs and said, “Are those chairs supposed to be like that?”
He knew full well they weren’t. Then, he strutted over and fixed them. The two women employees next to me raised their eyebrows and gave each other the look, which I took to mean, “He’s up to it again…”
With their look, something pierced and shifted in me. Something called me to look within myself. Why? Because I knew his ludicrous behavior was also my ludicrous behavior. I am often, “up to it again.”
I speak a word under my breath, “Ugh…this place is such a mess.”
I send a silent message to my child, “Can’t anyone throw out these used paper towels on the counters?”
I leave a complaining spirit around my house, “He didn’t put his shoes away. Now, I have to do it.”
I am “up to it again” often.
I never knew how this practice appears. How it comes off. The arrogance of it. The looks it produces in people. The retaliation it produces. The spectacle of it all.
It makes me consider how I could approach things differently.
You know, the man could have come in and:
- Chosen to connect with hearts by first caring for those around him.
- Been straightforward with his request for help in cleaning up, saying, “Hey, would you all mind helping me clean up?”
- Connected with others during the process.
- Given thanks to them for helping him out.
I can do this too.
It was interesting as I watched this situation transpire. The women retaliated and called the man out on his “junk.” They said, “Hey Jim, are these your bags of chips out here on the counter?”
They were. Embarrassed, Jim walked back to pick them up.
None of us are perfect. Usually, what we huff and puff about are things we are equally guilty of.
Why not give everyone a break? Ourselves included.
Why not be honest? In need? Straightforward?
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Eph. 4:24
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