What spills out?

In the quick check out lane at Wal-Mart, the slowest woman on the planet proceeded to count out coupons for the   cashier. Then, as my toddler’s short attention span was wearing thin, she argued with the checker about the expiration date, value and brand names of each and every coupon she presented. As if that wasn’t enough to make me snap, she wrote a check! It’s 2013. Who still carries their checkbook to Wally World?! After standing behind this lady for 20 minutes (no exaggeration,) I was lit. Boiling! And Chuckles was screeching. A good time was had by all!

I have been meditating the last few days on something my pastor says often…people will know the kind of believer you are by what spills out of you when you are bumped. Do you return glare with glare in traffic or do you smile back at the old man who showed the international sign of disdain? Do you speak every negative thought that pops into your head or do you gracefully bow out of conversation when you have nothing constructive to add? Are you passive aggressive or are you actively gentle? I have been meditating on this phrase, “What spills out,” because I admit that what spills out of me isn’t always pretty. I have learned to control my temper and I don’t generally use coarse language, but I do know how to sling some zingers rather innocently from time to time. I am just as guilty of sinning if my “criticisms” and eye rolls are distributed righteously in my own eyes as  I would be of they were unsolicited defamation! 

I won’t lie…it hurts. It hurts to hear people say destructive things about or to me. It hurts to feel like the customer service lady was rude to me. It hurts to be late to something (usually CHURCH) because my precious kiddo is being difficult. It hurts to not get my way. It hurts to feel judged or slighted in any way. It especially hurts to experience those things and go against every human fiber in my body to hold my tongue and act gracefully. Don’t lose my cool. Don’t huff. Don’t pout, get red-faced, be sarcastic or snarky. Just don’t.
But DO! God calls us to DO something when faced with adversity, no matter how big or small the situation. As people of faith, 1 Peter 3:8-16 calls us to repay evil with kindness, insults with blessings. This is how others will know us. And for this, Glory will be The Lord’s! Honestly, my favorite part of this selection is verse 16…But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. (1 Peter 3:16 NLT) My sinful nature likes the idea of someone being ashamed after they annoy, irritate or harm me! But, of course, that’s not the point. The point is to highlight how I need to act…or rather, REACT.
 It’s so hard for me to look in the mirror some days after I have been “bumped” over and over again and truly evaluate how I did in the sight of my Savior. Did I make Him proud. Did I bring Him glory? Did people know I was His? Do I hope they DIDN’T because of the way I acted?
Most days, my worldly motivation to be gentle and kind is my beautiful daughter. I want more than anything else in the world for her to grow up with a graceful spirit for Christ. She will first learn this as a behavior before it grows into a heart issue. For now, she mostly watches me to model this behavior. No pressure! 
So, really it boils down to this…I love my Lord and I love my daughter. I want my Lord to be proud of me and I want my daughter to learn well from me. Despite my inclinations to human fault, I CAN do the unexpected and patiently wait for the frustrating Wal-Mart patron to complete her purchase and smile at her as she glowers at my squirmy child. I can take the higher road and make the checker’s day by asking how she is doing after such an ordeal. I can be jovial to the three people waiting and whining behind me in line. I can do what Christ requires of me as a 1 Peter 3 lady and be graceful in this situation. Eternally, I will be rewarded.
Now, did I? That’s between the kid and me. Lets just say every moment is a teaching moment…even for this mama!

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