The world will not be nice to you. That is not its job. The world is the realm of the enemy who came to steal, to kill, and to destroy.
Sometimes the attacks will be big and obvious like an accident or natural disaster. But sometimes the attacks will be small and slimy – just enough to knock you off track.
I encountered one of those small moments when I was a young mom trying to make things work.
# # #
It was pouring down rain – the kind that would soak you to the bone before you had a chance to raise your umbrella. I was running behind with errands yet to be completed, and I needed cash. My only bank branch was fifteen minutes out of the way. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get cash back at the drug store after I picked out a few items.
I ran through the rain, ran through the store gathering up my wares, and ran up to the register in record time. Then the trouble started. I swiped, but nothing happened. I swiped a second time, and there was still no response. Now a line was beginning to gather behind me.
“It won’t take my card,” I mumbled. The lady behind me sighed loudly to be sure I understood her contempt for my situation.
“I’ll just swipe it back here,” the cashier said as she snatched my card and had it through the machine before I could think.
“Oh, I need cash back.”
“I can’t do that now.”
“But I have to have cash back. It was the whole reason I stopped in the first place.”
The impatient (and now annoyed) woman behind me snapped, “Can they check me out in the back?” She had now been waiting in line for approximately 60 seconds. She spoke over me again to the cashier. “She could just go to the ATM.”
And here is where I wish I could just go back in time. If I could, I would turn to the rude woman behind me and smile politely before offering a calm response:
“No ma’am, I can’t just go to the ATM. If I could just go to the ATM, then that is what I would have done in the first place. But there are no ATM’s in this area for my bank, and all the ATM’s in this area charge me two or three dollars just to use them. I’m extremely tight on budget funds at this point in my life, and I don’t have an extra two or three dollars. I chose to stop at this store because I knew I could get cash back and I knew it wouldn’t cost me any extra to do it. I needed the cash to be able to stop at another store that only takes cash before it closes in just a few minutes. But seeing as how you are obviously in so much of a hurry that you don’t mind being cold, insensitive and rude to someone you don’t even know, I will gladly step aside and let you go before I work this out with the cashier.”
It would have been comforting to me to be able to say. But it isn’t what I said. Instead, I just took my stuff, slithered out to my car, got out at the nearest ATM (in the pouring rain) and paid the fee (which meant cutting my budget for that week). The rudeness she threw at me threw me off.
Standing in that rain, I saw her drive past. It would have been easy to throw a few curses her way (and to mean them), but I wasn’t going to let her steal my joy on top of my two dollars. The world is always looking for ways to make people miserable. It’s too easy to fall into their trap. Instead of being affected by the negatives of the world, stay focused on the good, the positive, and the uplifting, and you will be able to rise above any person or situation that comes your way.
Still, it would be nice to have a time machine in situations like this.
# # #
Or would it?
Having had time to think on this and to grow a little, maybe the annoyed woman had issues of her own that I didn’t begin to see. Maybe if I had made the choice to reprimand her in front of the others, it would have only added to her burden. Maybe the two dollars I spent were worth it to make her day a little less than it might have been otherwise.
It’s not always easy to see the attacks coming, but we can always be invested not to be one of the attacks given. The way we respond in situations of attack will affect the way others are attacked (or protected).
Instead of thinking about how much they deserve the words or the outing, put yourself in their shoes. Would it help you or hinder you to be on the other end of what you are about to say?
When it comes down to it, make the choice for being an instrument of blessing instead of an instrument for the attack.
How have you been sideswiped by the small and slimy attacks? What did you do to overcome or to at least not add to the fodder?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.