I was doing the headless chicken thing that I do during the hour prior to a speaking gig – rushing about to and fro setting up my book table, getting mic’ed, going over the program itinerary with the LIC (Lady in Charge), instructing my book table helper in my KISS (Keep It Simple Sister) bookkeeping system, trying to remember where I left my speaker shoes so I don’t have to deliver my message in red flip-flops. You know, the usual craziness.
Then some unusual craziness happened.
I happened to glance across the large banquet room toward the podium and small prop table from where I would be speaking (I had already set my stuff up so it was all in order and ready to go) and noticed a middle-aged man with his hand literally in the cookie jar. It was actually a candy jar – a sealed clear glass jar full of chocolate kisses that I’ve used for a guessing game with my audiences for the past three years.
It was now unsealed. And his grubby hand was groping around in it.
I couldn’t help but notice several crinkled colored foil wrappers already littering the podium. My podium.
I instantly saw red. Blazing, rockets-bursting-in-air, fireworks red. Angry, rabid thoughts flashed through my head and collided with my teeth in their haste to exit my mouth:
- WHAT do you think you’re doing, you twit? Didn’t your mama teach you stealing is wrong?
- Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND??? How DARE you mess with my stuff without asking. Have you even an OUNCE of self-control?
- You have SOME NERVE to come waltzing into a women’s banquet and help yourself to the speaker’s props!
- You’re probably gonna get some kind of jungle rot, you know. Those kisses are three years old. You just might deserve to die a slow, horrible, painful death.
Thankfully, I was able to corral these runaway responses before they fog-horned across the room, alerting all the scurrying-about, hard-working ladies about the devious fox in our hen house. One horrible thought suddenly presented itself to my bulging brain: What if that’s the church pastor? Eeek. But I found my little legs pumping like pistons to carry me closer to confront the cad anyway.
“Excuse me, what are you doing?” I asked without a shred of pretend grace. “You’re really eating my props? Those kisses are for a guessing game; I already know – knew – the correct number in the jar and now I obviously don’t.”
He looked no more distressed than if I’d informed him his daisies were blooming as he popped a heisted treasure in his mouth, crumpled the foil, and added it to the growing podium trash stash.
“Just subtract three – no, four – from your total,” he casually spoke, his voice slightly muffled because of the chocolate lump in his cheek. No embarrassment. No contrition. No apology. (And it turned out he was NOT the pastor, thank heavens.)
So what would you have done at this point, dear BBFF (Blessed Blog Friend Forever)? Truthfully. (You don’t have to feign righteousness with me, you know. We’re all here to grow together.)
My last blog post posed the question: How do we, as believers, react to rude/outrageous/disrespectful behavior?
Your answers were inspiring – I’m so blessed to have such mature and grace-filled BBFFs to help guide me (and all of us) on our faith-journey through this life. Admittedly, I have a long way to go before grace is my default response to stupicity (not a word but it should be).
I’ve shared this before, but I’d like to share it again with your indulgence. Because I suspect some of you struggle with response rage (1 to 60 in ten seconds) like I do, and I know BARFing will help you. It’s an anger management tool that has helped me for years – and indeed saved my hide in this very kiss mishap – to corral my runaway anger and honor the wise proverb, ” Keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 NLT).
So standing before my nonrepentant chocolate-scarfing offender, I knew I had to BARF. And soon.
As I stared him down, well more like glared him down, he turned and walked away from my sacred, designated space (at least that’s the way I viewed it). I grabbed his abandoned kiss wrappers and bee-lined it to the women’s restroom. There I proceeded to:
- B: Back off. Put some space between me and my offender. Thankfully the restroom was empty.
- A: Admit. I said out loud, “Lord, I feel outraged; I feel violated; I feel like I want to stick my red flip flop where the sun don’t shine on that man. How cheeky can you be? He totally messed me up. Everything was set. I run such a tight schedule here I don’t have time to change anything. During this rant, I felt my BP begin to descend back toward normal and a still, small voice whispered to my heart, You’ll be fine. Trust me.
- R: Redirect. I took a deep breath and prayed for Papa God to redirect my emotions. He did. It occurred to me that the man might be a widower living alone and somehow needed the solace of a little sweet treat he might not get otherwise. It just didn’t occur to him to ask first. Compassion bubbled up to neutralize the rage.
- F: Forgive. I could do that. Now. After I began to see my offender as another hurting human who simply made a mistake in judgment.
Whew. Crisis averted.
I went back out, finished my set-up, and gave my speech. The guessing game went off without a hitch, just with 184 kisses in the jar instead of 188. No harm. No foul. Except that four women all guessed 184 and I only had one prize. (My offender ended up being a server at the luncheon with other men from the church and actually was a really nice guy. With an out-of-control sweet tooth.)
Granted, heisting chocolate kisses is a minor thing, maybe even silly. But at the time it was just as strong an anger trigger for me as if someone had stolen my purse.
We all have to deal with anger triggers daily – minor, major, and sometimes repetitive. Seems like a good idea to prepare before the trigger is pulled. And whenever we can, offer kisses to a twit.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 1218 NIV).
*Who’s up for another great giveaway? I hear an awesome Palentine gift package is in the works for Feb so stay tuned!
Julie Blackmore says
Wow. This discussion is so on time.
One of my friend’s had called me around 6:30pm, he wanted to come over (Jan 15, 2020). I told him, “No, I have a meeting to attend.” In addition to our conversation, he was stating that he ordered chilaquiles.(tortillas cut in triangles, drowning in sour cream and shredded chicken)..he was describing the toppings on his meal ( I am not going to put you through that torture)…I told him “I am doing the Daniel fast, how dare you do that to me, especially when I just got done telling you that I am struggling with the Daniel fast”. I was irritated. So we get off of the phone. Within 20 mins, the same friend comes over just as I am heading out of the door to attend my meeting…he comes over with his food in his hand….wanting to eat it at my kitchen table. He ended up coming with me to the meeting. He never did eat his food.
The Holy Spirit is amazing. My Superintendent in charge of Sunday School, unbeknownst to her, was speaking on the importance of mercy and understanding; that it is the devil’s job to magnify a small situation into a giant molehill….and to remember where we came from; no one is perfect. Everyone has flaws. We spent 10 mins. discussing the lesson, but an 1 hour getting lectured by the Holy Spirit. Wow.
The Superintendent had me to pray our dismissal prayer in which I had to repent for being irritated and angry. And to realize that his wife did leave him for another man.
My friend thinks of me as his sister (20 year age) gap between me and him. He gets really depressed and he doesn’t like to be by himself.
Isn’t it amazing how compassion almost always ends up being the catalyst to cooling down our exploding tempers and allowing our perspective to change when we are offended by someone? Thanks for sharing your story with us, Julie.
Cheryl Johnston says
Hi Deb: Thank for sharing this real life happening that I know most of us can relate to. The Lord has been opening my eyes lately to see how many people are also struggling with memory or dementia issues and often they have no idea they are doing something unusual by taking candy or food that wasn’t really intended for them. They are simply distracted if they see these things set out, almost as an invite to help yourself. I love the BARF idea and I’m sure I’ll have chances to use it in the future. Glad your event went well!
An excellent point, Cheryl. I recall when my dear father-in-law was riddled with dementia, one day he walked up to total stranger at Sam’s Club (this is an 80+ year-old man approaching a teenage girl who doesn’t know him) and popped her bra strap then giggled like a little boy. We were all horrified. The girl was taken aback; she ended up being very nice about it (when his condition was explained to her), but your point is well taken that we do indeed need to take into consideration that sometimes dementia may play a role in erratic behavior. Thanks so much for your insight, my friend.
Deb, thanks for sharing this story and the encouragement to give other grace and space. Blessings, Sandi
Well said, my friend!