Warning: The following episode contains one “ugly word,” as we say in the South, but it is essential, not gratuitous, so please “pardon my French,” as we also say.
Last week, as I was preparing to submit a story to a publication, I could not help smiling as I recalled the day I finished writing the piece that eventually morphed into the final copy I had before me.
On that sunny November day I had prepared a Thanksgiving meditation for my ladies’ circle group, and I had just put the finishing touches on it. In fact, I had thought it was complete, but then I suddenly had a couple of new insights that gave it further depth, so I was grateful to God for helping me see something new.
In fact, I was feeling pretty good about it. Don’t get the wrong idea. It wasn’t as if I intended to take all the credit. I knew that God had provided those additional ideas, and I was praising Him all the way to K-Mart, where I would purchase items to take with me to the meeting as a donation for whatever cause we were supporting that month. On that lovely fall day I was feeling very . . . well . . . spiritual.
I pulled into one of the slanted spots, opened the car door, and stepped out onto the pavement. And there, squarely in front of me, cursing me from the pavement, just a couple of inches from my black leather slides, was huge white lettering spelling out “B-I-T-C-H.” How startling! How rude! How offensive!
Recovering from the shock, I walked into the store thinking, “Lord, honestly, there have been days when I would have deserved this, but not today. What the heck? This has been a spiritual day!”
Thinking back, however, I wondered if the K-Martians had heard me muttering last week about their lack of efficiency in helping me find an ink cartridge. I had not been in such a spiritual state of mind that day. Was this some sort of K-Mart karma?
Or, even worse, had they been hovering over my street, where, in the privacy of my own home, I sometimes “vented” to anyone who would listen? I winced as the memory of a few choice epithets reverberated in my brain in my own voice, as if it were being played back from a recorder. How I hate that sound, and now it was drowning out the important announcement from the K-Mart lady on the loud-speaker.
Jesus’s brother James tells us, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man . . . ”
Well, I already knew I was not perfect. But did I need such a rude reminder on this particular day, my exceptionally spiritual day? Today I had just been praising the Lord when I stepped out of the car and came face to face with the cursing. How odd. However . . .
James continues: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (I’m sure he would have included “sisters” if he had thought about it.)
Oops. The “same mouth” was mine. Maybe I did deserve the scolding that I was getting after all.
Sometimes we try to operate under a “treble clef” mentality: “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor.” (That’s how I learned the names of the notes on the lines.) If we are “good” that day, we think we deserve favor. We forget about those other days, the ones where we feel justified in cursing those who have wronged us or hurt us or simply cut us off on the expressway.
And what about “deserving” anyway? Do I really want what I deserve? That “good boy” thing is too hard to keep up, so I don’t think so. Wait . . . what is that I’m hearing?
Is it the K-Martians? What are they saying? I can’t be sure, but I think they are talking to me: “What you deserve, Dear Heart, is the assault from the asphalt. What you get is grace.”