Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pebble in the shoe

It was a morning of errands for me and if there's anything I can't stand, it's driving from this place to that to drop off, pick up, check on, do a single thing. It's just so dang inefficient. And...I'm just the opposite of my beloved Beve who, I swear (though I don't really), LOVES to run errands. Seriously. We can't get into the car to go somewhere without him having to stop by somewhere else (or two or three) on the way home. And there I am, trying not to grind my teeth because he didn't mention it and I should have known and really, why the heck do we need to go to Costco every single time we visit Grampie, anyway?

There are always things about our spouses that annoy us, right? But it's because we're different. And that balance makes us better, I suppose. At least that's what I tell myself when I'm walking through Costco for the fourth time in a week...and it's only Wednesday.

Anyway, today I wasn't being drug by my reluctant fingernails by Beve. It was a morning of my own making. And it seemed like everywhere I went the lines were long and people were chatting to take their minds off the time. Standing near the cutting counter at Joanne Fabrics (clutching my number like it's my lifeline), waiting to have my flannel backing cut  (for the Christmas tree skirt I'm finishing), I moved before the woman cutting fabric called my number.
"If 67 comes after 66, I'm next," I told her.
She laughed and said, "It did back when I learned to count."
"I think I could count that high in Kindergarten," I said.
She quoted Erma Bombeck--something about kids from Kindergarten to about 13  being capable of ruling the world and after that needing to be locked up until they finish high school. Beve and I were lucky to start with a child who was born 30, and is just now growing into her age. And because of her, our younger two didn't slam doors or yell at us either when they hit those apparently volatile years . But..."teenagers are my people group and I could hardly wait until my kids got to 13," I said. "I didn't do as well when they were little." She laughed. "I never heard it put that way," she said. "I'll have to tell my daughter. I think she'll be relieved to hear that not everyone has to be great with their toddlers and it still turns out okay."

Then I went off to Comcast where the line was snaking out the door. Shudder, sigh. All I needed to do was return Grampie's router. Yep, router. We had one put in about a year ago so we could try Face-time with Thyrza, but since that's been a giant FAIL (even her daughter can't make it work), returning it seemed only reasonable. I spent 40 minutes in the line at Comcast. Talked to all those around me about all manner of things--routers (like I actually know any thing about routers!), babies, food (it was lunchtime), how we'd actually been there overnight, and, finally, about Grampie and his Alzheimer's. The man just ahead of me told me he used to work in an Alzheimer's unit, but the patients really scared him with their violence. I nodded. I've heard that about people with dementia, of course. We all have. However, the two parents in our lives haven't moved to violence. As I told this man about my mom and her sad fright, and Grampie and his continuing sweetness, the line seemed to lean in and I began to feel like something bigger was going on. Could feel Him right there in that long line.  I just told this man (and the others) what I've often said before: that it's what's most deeply in a person that comes through when their brain empties. When the filters are gone and the masks are lost, you can really discover who a person is. Angry, sweet, insecure...even if they don't have words for it, you can tell. The man blanched, I could see it. "I'm going to be one angry *#&%!"
Dropping the F-bomb right there in Comcast, like it was no big deal.
My reaction was as instinctive as his, I think. "But you don't have to be."
"How can I help it?" He asked. "I have three daughters who are all out of control, I've lost two marriages, so many jobs I can't count, and none of it's my fault."
"Except how you respond to it," I said (though I'm pretty sure a whole lot of it IS his fault).
He looked at me a little like I have two heads.  And was probably relieved that he got to walk away just then. But maybe, maybe he left, thinking that there's a different way of being than just angry, and blaming everyone else for his life.

I love such conversations, though. I love that suddenly, unexpectedly, something more is going on that those participating in the conversation know. And I love being His vehicle for change, even when I never see that change. Even if all that conversation is a pebble in the shoe of how someone thinks or lives. I hope that man feels the pebble rub and rub and rub. So much that he has to take off the shoe, look at his life more clearly. May God use that pebble to change his life for good.

Yes, it's a sweet thing to be out in the world, being Christ among the people. Being His pebble in the shoes of those we walk among.

Hmm, I guess I should look at errands as a privilege.


M said...

If only lines were as sweet when standing on the other side of the counter...

E said...

Pretty cool interaction.