This weekend, I was a mess. Do you ever have those days, whether it be hormonal, circumstantial, or otherwise that you feel just crummy. You hate the world, you think the world hates you, nothing feels right, nothing looks right, and you're just out of sorts. I had such a weekend. While it was Easter and my heart felt amazingly grateful and my spirit lifted, my flesh, my soul, my attitude STUNK, and I knew it. Ugh! It's always such a tug of war. Good, battling the bad!
While I was already on edge because the battery in my phone was dead and of course, I forgot the charger. and my computer had gone black AGAIN, so I had no way to communicate with anyone, I was stressed looking at the climbing gas prices, knowing that we really couldn't afford to be running all over the place (we were traveling this weekend). But it mostly all fell apart on Saturday night when I went shopping.
I had a budget...a tight one. Like, 10 bucks to buy something purple to wear to sing in on Sunday, because the other guys in my group were wearing purple and all I had was black and turquoise. So, out I go Saturday evening around 7:30 p.m., at the very last minute of course, to try to find something purple. I went to the local mall and on to the department store where my sister works. I was hoping she could help me find something. She had already left for the day (which I found out when I tried to call her and my phone died...grrr). But find it I did! I saw the most beautiful, raw silk (at least it looked like raw silk...it was shiny, we'll just say that) royal purple suit that would have looked great on me! And it was on the SALE RACK, no less! But when I picked up the suit, in my perfect size, I saw the "sale" price...$69.99, down from $74.00. Not much of a sale price if you ask me! That was considerably greater than my lousy $10 budget. Blech! I was so mad, because I just knew that in just two days, that suit would be half that price! Blech! Again!
So I made my way to the next store. Which had equally disappointing sales. Not to mention a family, trying to find something for their morbidly obese daughter (she looked about 300 lbs and couldn't have been more than 12 years old). It was the ENTIRE family, including the Jed Clampett'esque dad who wasn't nearly as wise and thoughtful as good ol' Jed. This guy was loud, hateful, mouthy and completely verbally abusive to his overweight daughter, who was in tears trying to find something to wear for Easter. He berated her the entire time! Her oblivious mother, trying to just get the heck out of there (if she wasn't mortified by the whole thing, she should have been!), just barked, "Taylor (that was the girl's name, because every single person in the family had some snippy, hateful, loud comment to make about her and would begin their rant with, "Taylor...!") just pick something and let's go!" To which she sobbed, "But everything I pick out, he hates!" I was like, who the heck brings red-neck, loud, hateful daddy shopping for tween daughter's Easter dress anyhow? I think it was his idea, because he seemed to find a lot of pleasure in picking out things for Taylor to wear that was either not going to fit her, or that she absolutely hated. And every time she, very politely I might add, turned down his choice, he yelled at her. After about 15 minutes of that circus, I had to high-tail it out of there! As if I wasn't frustrated enough looking for my own clothes, mean Jed Clampett was driving me absolutely mad! He was about to make me cry!
So on to the next store I went, my face feeling hot. And yes, there I did find something. It was a purple, cotton shirt in my price range. Not nearly dressy enough, but it was all I could find, so I got it to wear with the black jacket and skirt I had packed. I was disappointed. Then, when I walked out of the store, I saw little Taylor again, walking with her family, looking so low. I heard a little voice tell me to go over and give her a compliment, or encourage her in some way. But I blew it off thinking, "I can't do that! She'd be scared to death having some strange woman come over and start talking to her!" And I left the mall feeling angry and frustrated myself.
I drove around for a bit, listening to music (my favorite thing to do) and even pulled over to just sit there and think...and stew in my misery. But instead, I prayed. And I heard the Holy Spirit tell me (and don't be freaked out...when Christians say stuff like that, they don't mean that God, in a loud, Charlton Heston sounding voice, audibly called out to them! All they mean is that they felt inside a knowing of what God was saying. The scripture says, "My sheep know my voice." So hopefully, when God is talking to one of His followers, they know it's Him. Clear?) that He really did want me to go over and speak something kind to Taylor. That it would have made a difference to her. But I argued that I wouldn't want some stranger coming up and talking to my daughter. And her mother was standing right there! What would she think? And I wouldn't have known what to say! But God said that was not for me to worry about...the how or what. He would have given me the words.
I was immediately reminded that the night before, God had asked me to do the same thing...to say something kind and meaningful to the girl working at 10:30 p.m. behind the counter of the Baskin Robbins, where I had stopped to get an ice cream cone (it had to be one scoop of Pistachio Almond and one scoop of Butter Pecan on a sugar cone...yum). She looked so tired and was working all by herself, when a bus-load of teenagers, traveling for what looked like a baseball game, came in and packed out the place. He spoke to me then too. But I argued with Him in my head that night as well. I said, "Lord, she's tired, she doesn't want to talk to me!" So I left her a tip (I paid her off and she didn't even know it!), hoping that would bribe God into being ok with disobeying Him! Ha! Didn't work. He didn't let me off the hook. He reminded me of it in His signature, gentle way.
What God was saying, was that, the girl from Baskin Robbins and Taylor didn't need me to say something nice to them, they needed God's love at that moment. And that He had chosen me to be the messenger, or the vessel by which He could pour out that love onto them. But I missed it. I was in a crummy mood. I was thinking all about myself. There was no way I was giving up my pity party to make someone else feel better! Who was going to make me feel better?
And with that, I had decidedly gotten in God's way....by getting in my own way. Now it made sense. You know, when preachers, or teachers remark about all we could do as Christians, if we would just get out of the way? I got it. And I was sorry. I felt bad. I thought of Taylor going home with her mean Jed Clampett father and her passive mother and bully sister and how she must feel. If I had obeyed God, and spoken His love to her, perhaps she would have had something else to focus on, other than their ugly words. Maybe Baskin Robbins girl would have had a drive home that didn't include the dread of getting up the next morning and doing it all over again. Because what He was specifically asking me to say to her was that, He had a big dream for her. But seriously. Who goes up to a counter, orders an ice cream from a stranger and tells them, "God has a big dream for you?" Not me obviously! But what if?
So that's the question I was left with all weekend. Who? What? Who goes that extra, scary mile into uncomfortable territory to be God's hands, God's feet, God's words, God's love? What would this world look like if more of us Christians got out of God's way and let Him actually work through us the way we agreed to do when we accepted Him? Do we even have any idea how much He longs to use us and show us how miraculous and lovely His work can be? I'm not talking about obeying the call to sell all you have, pack up the family and move across the world to be a missionary in some tropical rain forest (although that would be an important call, if He were to ask). I'm talking about obeying the call to speak a kind word or two to a broken young girl in a mall, in your very own town. Isn't that equally as important? Equally as challenging to obey and equally as great? My obedience to love them would have been monumental to those two girls, in the moment when their need was the greatest. But I disobeyed. And who paid the price? Ouch...
When I realized all this, I cried, right there in my car, music blaring (and not even "Christian music!"). I asked God to forgive me (which He did) and I prayed for those two girls. That even though I had failed, that God Himself would speak something sweet to their hearts...something just for them. Which I know He can do. I asked God, that He would please give me the chance, to be His voice. To train me to know when it's Him and to give me the courage and strength to obey and not be afraid of what people will think or what they will say.
The Bible says that we are to be "...a peculiar people." This doesn't mean to be socially inept or act like a complete and total weirdo! But I think it means to utterly perplex the world with His love. To be so crazy good to people that they think, "There must be something wrong with them!" Why? Because peculiar is interesting. Peculiar makes you stare a little bit. Peculiar makes you stop and think. Peculiar GETS YOUR ATTENTION! People aren't used to being treated well, or spoken kindly of, or sometimes even noticed! God's ways are often peculiar and the world just doesn't get it ("...God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise..." 1 Cor. 1:27). But they take notice. And deep down, in the places they don't like to admit or talk about, they want what you have. God's love is attractive. Jesus is attractive. And when we love like He did, when they feel His love for them...people want Him!
But I have to be that love. I am the vessel He has chosen to use to pour out His love. Why? I don't know. All I can figure is that He likes using meager, common, sometimes cracked and seemingly useless things to bring about His will. I am all of those things and worse! But He wants to use me nonetheless. And He wants to use you. Will we get out of our own way and let Him?