Social Distancing of the Heart

Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 13:17 “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.“

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” I have quipped this childhood saying before. With the recognition of the term “bullying“ and the results there of, this phrase has been proven inaccurate.

This week I was “blessed“ with the opportunity to experience this for myself. Even putting on my “armor“ before heading out for a holy battle didn’t prepare me.

Eric and I were camping. We took it easy and meandered through the morning with coffee and several hours of alone time with Heavenly Dad. We had to share a VERY small space. When I was done I offered to run across the parking lot to the store to give Eric seclusion to pray.

With Covid-19, Eric and I very rarely go into stores. We usually order groceries ahead for pick up. When I stepped through the doors of Meijer, it took a microsecond to remind me why we continue this practice even with the restrictions lightened. The store was packed. Half of the patrons were in masks, the other trying desperately to tango their way down the aisles maintaining the acceptable 6 feet of safe space.

There were small lines in each row waiting to proceed further down the aisle to reach a desired/particular brand. Each time the invisible lines were crossed tension would rise. It was very stressful. Finally my list was complete. It is now impossible to buzz your way to the checkout with distance requirements in place. Since the self checkout seemed the shortest, I took my place in the clothing racks behind the “next” person in line. They were standing on the appropriate star sticker on the floor directly in the middle of the main isle—awkward!! When a register opened, on they went and I moseyed my way to the star.

Carefully taking my place to avoid giving or getting contact from any passerby, I was swinging my cart around to make sure my backend would not block the moving traffic on both sides. That’s when it happened.

Not even fully in place, a woman with a mound of groceries slides into place between me and the person at the checkout counter. She looked back at me as I smiled pointed to the safe social distancing stars on the floor. She nodded and…turned her back to me, staying in the middle of then aisle blocking traffic. Oooookkkkkay.

My thought was,”At least I’m not on a time table,” and I waited. Next a man came up behind me, not hiding out in the racks like I had done but distancing himself down the center aisle. I smiled. The woman in front moved forward to take the next open register and then it happened.

The man behind me went around me! At this point I was feeling very invisible and said to the gentleman,”I’m so sorry but the stars on the floor show us where we are supposed to stand and I’m am actually next.” Barely making eye contact he mumbled,”I’m with her her,” and went ahead. Now I’m tired, as I had been waiting for sometime, felt disrespected, and if that weren’t bad enough, when I scooch up to take the lady’s place to make sure no one else stands in front, a Meijer employee chastises me for not being on the star! In my mind I was thinking,”Where were you just moments ago?!?!”

To make a long story short—too late, I made it through the line but grumpiness was in my heart. As I slowly made my way back to the campsite I was comparing the feelings of joy, fulfillment, and peace that I had when I left with the frustration, impatience, and disrespect I was feeling now. I would say I was miffed but being honest, I was angry. That stunk! It only took an hour, even less, to literally feel like a completely different person. I had felt so…prepared! Now I had to face Eric. Who was I going to be when I walked through that door?

Thankfully, I did have time to process and pray about this between the store and Eric. I plopped down and told him what happened and the feelings I had but that’s where it ended. I confessed how frustrated I was with myself, first and foremost, for letting the actions of others affect my feelings. Instead of giving Eric the opportunity to jump into the situation and be angry with me to justly comfort me, I asked him what I could do better to prepare for the next time that happened.

Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 13:17 “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.“

What would my day have been like if my recollection of the details would have stayed negative? How would that have set the stage for maybe not just that day but the reminder of our camping? “Trouble” seems like a simple term for all of the turmoil we probably avoided by choosing not to “act” on the negative feelings even if they were justifiable.

Hmmmm…I’m still working on not feeling that way to BEGIN with. It’s definitely a process.

Until next time: blessings!

2 thoughts on “Social Distancing of the Heart

  1. Something I have learned in recent years is that anger itself is an emotional response to an injustice, either real or perceived. God is just, and thus His heart for justice is carved upon our very nature; as such, seeking justice is normal and natural. Anger, in and of itself, is not sinful/wrong (see Jesus flipping tables for a vibrant demonstration of this fact. Haha). Additionally, God gave us feelings and emotions for a reason- they are the lenses by which we explore the breadth and depth of the world around us, His Creation. How boring would life be if everything in it was the same one or two colors? The colors of our emotions paint intricate pictures: interweaving what IS (facts) along with the intricacies of our own histories, experiences, and knowledge. That being said, while emotions are innately beautiful and personal, they are also incredibly stupid. I say this because they are not always factually based and can be quite easily swayed. Thus, we should use these God-given gifts much like the warning lights on our vehicles’ dashboards: they are indicators regarding God’s Creation, our personal world, and our own state of being. They are hazardous to ignore or try to prematurely shut off (ex: either by bottling feelings OR the constant spewing of emotions). In short, they need to be individually recognized, on a case-by-case basis, for what they area- sometimes they are indicators that we need to act (get the “car”/situation fixed/resolved; ie: speak truth in love), sometimes they tell us that there’s more going on than we can clearly see (something’s off with the “car”/situation; ie: we need to approach carefully with prayerful openness in a desire to know and understand more before actions can be wisely executed), and sometimes they are indicators that our indicators are broken (the “car’s dash” needs to be reset; ie: Maybe I’m too tired/hungry/stressed/overburdened to approach the current situation in a wise and healthy manner, and I just need to come back to it later or with wise counsel). In summation, feelings are not inherently sinful, however, acting directly out of them often leads to sin (“In your anger do not sin…”). Thus prayerfully acknowledging them as they come and sorting through them, with wise counsel as necessary, is key to wise and righteous living.

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