It isn’t the memory I want my boys having of our family vacation.
Destin 2014: The trip our mom got “into it” with the red-headed lady at Wal-Mart.
Yes. I did.
Oh y’all. I know better. I knew better. But it had been a long day in the car. Like nineteen hours long. OK, nine. And the boys were as hyper as caged Cocker Spaniels. And we were at Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart is crazy enough, but this was Wal-Mart filled with hundreds of other all-day travelers filling their carts with cheese balls and Capri Suns.
It was a recipe for something. But I wouldn’t have guessed this.
We were in the soda aisle when it began. The boys were wooly and running circles around Brent and me and everyone else. Hindsight tells me I should have strapped them down, left them in the van with Brent or honestly gone by myself to the store, but it is vacation, and we Crenshaws do everything together, right!?
One of my boys bumped into her, I guess… The red-headed lady with spiky hair. And she muttered under her breath, but loud enough for me to hear. The red-headed lady muttered ugly words about my boys.
Listen. To. Me. People.
You don’t talk about my boys. Not under your breath. Not on top of your breath. I know they were annoying, trust me, I know. But give them some grace, for the love.
But no. Grabbing for a 2 liter of Coke she muttered again and this time I turned, “I’m sorry ma’am, what was that?”
And passive-aggressiveness settled deep into our conversation, “Oh, nothing.” She grinned. “I didn’t say anything.”
Grrrr! I heard her. Own it, lady. Own it. Own it. Own it.
“I heard you speak ugly of my kids. I am sorry if they bumped into you. I’d rather you give me the opportunity to apologize instead of being hateful.”
And off we went…. Her sassy against my sassy. I won’t go on about the details of the conversation but it went from the Coke aisle to the deli meat before my lip started to quiver.
You know the mad cry.
And I don’t tell you this to glorify my sin. Or make light of a bad situation. I tell you this because I am one hot-headed-lady away from breakdown.
We Crenshaws then scuttled up to check out, the boys and Brent asking me over and over, “what just happened back there?” I just told them she was full of the devil and I didn’t want to talk about it. But the truth was, it wasn’t her being full of the devil that caused the breakdown. It was me not living full of the Spirit.
Scripture is SO BLATANTLY CLEAR about what happened in the Coke aisle….
Let go of anger and leave rage behind! Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil. Psalm 37:8
Do not associate with a man given to anger. Proverbs 22:24
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecc. 7:9
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. James 4:1 Msg
I should have left it alone, gathering my chickadees back into a neater line and shopped our merry way. I should have not dealt with her… it only led to evil.
My boys will remember that day at Wal-Mart, but what I pray they remember most was the redemptive moment pulling out of that crazy Wal-Mart parking lot.
Brent explained to the boys a little of what had just happened and explained that God instructs us to love our enemies and to pray for them (Matthew 5:44). So we did. Driving down Highway 98 we prayed for the red-headed lady with spiky hair. We prayed that she would encounter the love of Jesus this week. We prayed for mommy’s heart, too. That forgiveness would reign and love would grow deep for this woman who offended me to my core.
And Brent’s prayer has been answered. I have prayed for her every morning. I have thought of her often. Knowing she sees the same sun rise and breathes the same salt-scented air.
Jesus created all of this for her, too. Jesus watches over her, too. Jesus covered both of our sin, both of our Wal-Mart sass, just the same.
The Lord taught me much.
One. I should not take my boys to Wal-Mart post a nine-hour car ride to Florida.
Two. I am one passive-aggressive lady away from melt down.
And three. I need Jesus every moment. Of every hour. Every day.
Lord Jesus, thank you for showing me my desperate need for you. Forgive me for being quick to anger and quick to speak. Help me to hold my tongue for it is a restless evil (James 3:8). Let me bear with others in love, as you bear with me — all of the time. In Jesus name, amen.