Monday, April 16, 2012

attitude: two sides of the same mirror


I sat by Mirror Pond on a park bench, sandwich in one hand a book in the other.  I’d been there for some time when load voices behind me distracted me for a moment. Three teenage girls were walking down the grassy hill behind me. Talking loudly. One exclaimed over an item she’d forgotten to bring with her.

As I glanced behind me, I saw they were on their way to meet up with a larger group of teens walking from the other direction. The girl who’d forgotten something, shouted even louder to the other group about how she’d forgotten it. Whatever it was, I’ve since forgotten, it had no significance to me. As the groups met about twenty yards over my left shoulder, I tried to return to my book, but could not concentrate to finish a sentence.

From the moment I first heard them approaching, I could hear their language seasoned with f-bombs. Loud. Purposeful. Every. Other. Word. I could hear the anger and indignation as they talked about their teachers and the assignment they’d been given.

I was startled. I looked around. I didn’t know if I should interject. Ask them politely to speak more kindly. I scanned for children who might be hearing this assault of language, a mother who might step in. Part of me was relieved there were none. I knew these teens, who showed no respect for their teachers, the authority figures in their lives, would simply laugh at me or cuss my out if I stood up and asked them please. So I said nothing.

You might think I’m prudish for being bothered my their harsh language. But I have to tell you, I think cursing has a place. I’d be lying if I told you I never, ever curse. I do. I try to limit it to my internal dialogue, or when no other ears can hear. But sometimes I slip. Just don’t tell Mama. She likes to think that I am still sheltered from the evils of this world.  But the reality is that I think curse words can be a valid form of expression. Sometimes “darn-it” and “fiddlesticks” simply aren’t strong enough words to express the depth of emotion.

But these teens, they weren’t using their words to express emotions. Their attitude showed they used these words to make a show. To say, “I can do anything I want. No one else is the boss of me. Just try me.” But they weren’t proving any point to me.

The book I held in my hand was about a teenage girl. Not much older than any of them.  A girl who left her home to work in Uganda. A teenage girl who would adopt 14 daughters before she was old enough to drink in the States. And she did all this because she knew Jesus called her to love. To love just one. Each one she met. And every day she strived to say, “Yes” to that call. (You can read about her here.)

The difference between the teenagers in the park and the one I read about were stark. Opposite sides of the same mirror. Long after those angry teens moved on, I put my book down and prayed for the baby that the girl who’d forgotten something pushed in a stroller. I prayed that baby would know more love than anger. More grace than pain. More joy than sorrow. 

Each day we have a choice to make. We can choose love or we can choose anger. We can choose joy or we can choose disappointment. Which choice will you make today?

9 comments:

  1. My husband Bill loves that book and her story. We bought that book for Grandpa this past Christmas. Amazing story amazing love!

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    2. And that book you all bought, is the very one I'm reading. Grandpa loaned it to me. I've heard about the story here and there. But it certainly has been inspiring and at times challenging to read, as I ask myself, am I saying, "Yes," to all God is asking of me?

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    3. I have to be honest with you. I didn't read it. Bill heard about it and spent a lot of time reading about her and what she is doing and thought Dad would like the book. I felt convicted because I know I am not doing all I can and all I should. I hate feeling convicted!

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    4. I know that feeling. Hate it too. My church is all the time talking about "giving your life away." Often, I'm not sure what that looks like for my life. So it was less convicting and more inspiring to hear about someone who is doing just that.

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  2. I just heard about, "Kisses from Katie" last week from an aunt. Now I want to read it!

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    1. I don't usually jump on the bandwagon and read the book that "everyone" is reading. I'm a skeptic. Doubtful of the fuss that other people make, especially about books and movies. But this book was handed to me, and I had the time. Turns out it was worth the read.

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  3. I usually wait for the hype to fan out before I pick something up as well. This story is so intriguing to me. What a challenge to live each day choosing to love "just one" and the way that attitude can change your life.

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    1. She makes a point to say that doing that does not look the same for everyone. It's not really practical for all of us to leave our homes and move to the third world. It is a challenge to find the ways we might be following that call right now, today, wherever we are.

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