I was reprimanded at the auto mechanics today. The strange thing is, I felt agitation before leaving my house like I knew this person was going to talk down to me or have to say something about my car situation. I realized about three comments into the point he was trying to get across that no matter how right he was, I didn’t deserve to be talked to like a child.
The day was chilly and the sky like dull metal, when just yesterday it was gloriously warm for April and maybe even uncomfortably so. After school, every inch of the playground was clamoring with kids. They were crammed onto the spinning thing and piled up at the bottom of the slide playing “squish the lemon.” I remember playing the same game on the endless afternoons of my own childhood. Today I’m shivering on the outside but slowly heating with a sense of shame and then indignation.
I calmly stated back my case which was a reasonable one. I held back tears thinking that would only enforce whatever image he has of me as an emotional female without enough intelligence to follow direction. I paid the bill. He waited until I was walking out the door to throw more words, to make sure I got the point. I should’ve said, I got it, looked in his direction as if to say, you can stop now.
I think it’s so easy to offend and be offended. I think it’s easy for Christians to pile up their popular Christian books on the counter of their business and then completely miss the chance of being a neighbor to someone.
It was an overcast day. I look young and like someone that needs so much advice. But he also wouldn’t have spoken the same way to my six foot tall husband. Now I sit and wonder how to regain composure and get whatever power I imagine he was trying to take from me.
A day later I’ve processed and I know this is the everyday stuff of randomly running into people, doing business, making friends and being in the world. I worry when words slip out of my mouth that I can’t reel back in. I can only apologize when I need to and hope people understand. I need more practice with reigning in my thoughts and I’m sure you do too. Still, if over and over a person can’t control their tongue, you have to wonder about the condition of their heart. Appearances steal the show in our culture. It seems like a waste of time to work on anything going on inside yourself when no one would notice. But I’ve had a realization.
I’m ready to work on things that won’t get noticed. I’m ready to do the work of peeling back layers of actions and reactions that come from somewhere both deep and also naive. When my feelings get hurt, it becomes a great teacher.