I tried to do a favor for a friend one fine summer day. The friend had recently moved from my neighborhood, and asked me to deliver a request to the lady now living in the house she’d vacated. So I walked down the quiet street and rang the doorbell. I fidgeted around the porch – seemed to be taking a very long time for her to answer the door. I heard shuffling noises for a long time before the lady cracked the door slightly. No wonder she was so long answering the bell; she wore a cast the length of her leg!
After asking about her accident and expressing my sympathy, I made my request of her to forward some mail to my friend. I had the address handy and was just going to hand it to her when she with a frown, had a mini explosion.
“Well, I’m getting really tired of forwarding all t his mail to her! What she needs to do is get her address change in to the post office.”
I stood there with my mouth open. Then my loyalty to my friend kicked in and I said, “Just forget it!” and wheeled around and marched home. Very mature reaction.
I called my friend to tattle on the woman, and was quite surprised to hear her dissolve in laughter after my tale of woe. When she could talk, she commenced to explain some things about the lady’s situation. The more she talked the smaller I shrunk.
“I’ve already visited with her on the phone this morning. You saw the poor woman has a broken leg? Well, this morning she took a tumble down her basement stairs. After getting herself back together (with no additional broken bones, thank goodness), a stomach bug attacked her with a vengeance – diarrhea and everything else - and right at the time you were ringing the doorbell, she was cleaning herself up. She hadn’t made it to the bathroom in time.”
“Oh,” I replied.
I hate to admit this, but I didn’t rush back to her house to apologize, and beg to let me fix supper for her. That lady hobbled up the street to my house and apologized to me, saying she really admired my loyalty to my friend. I have been humbled and chastised very few times as thoroughly as I was that day by the Lord. Burning with shame, I asked her forgiveness and offered to help her however I could. We parted friends.
Would I react in the same way today, nearly 25 years later? O, I pray not!! I pray the Spirit has done much, much work in me in the intervening years.
This poem describes how I want to be:
by Lee Avery
Once I might have been angered, ah, but now,
I know too much of living and its toll –
I’ve seen the little cares that fret the soul,
And tear the tender heart, and line the brow.
And so I understand the reason why
You strike at me with little darts of words-
They are a flock of tiny, cornered birds,
Frightened, and yet too desperate to fly.
Your very bitterness but masks your need,
Your secret shyness is the silent root
That sends, unbidden, such sarcastic fruit;
Beneath that blunting shield your heart must bleed.
And I, whom you would seek to slay by tongue,
But pity those cold lips that should have sung.