Check Me, Checking You Out
There are few things in life more awkward than a chatty checker.
At the end of a terrible day, I hit the grocery store to buy some basic necessities. I filled my hand basket with shampoo, body wash, bath salts, a mind numbing magazine and a diet Coke. In line, I found myself encased by a woman with 800 expired coupons, and a frat boy with a case of Corona and two limes.
I wanted to express my frustration with coupon lady by exhaling deeply and rolling my eyes. I wanted to tell the frat boy two limes were by no means enough for an entire case of Corona. But I knew I was grumpy. Keeping my mouth shut and my eyes rolled straight ahead was probably the better option.
My turn at the checkstand introduced me to a middle-aged, slightly balding, and ridiculously friendly checker. He asked about my day, offered paper or plastic. Halfway through my basket, he scanned the bath salts. Noticing a theme; he looked up, smiled, and said “I want to take a bath with you.”
My mouth gaped. The kid behind me dropped his head and chuckled so deeply that tears splattered on the floor below him. A hundred thoughts flashed, but my tongue remained still. Chatty checker tried desperately to talk his way out of the hole he dug: “no really . . . I just like baths.” Still I said nothing.
Desperate, he looked at me; “what?,” he questioned, “why aren’t you saying anything.”
Saying nothing is one of the hardest things for me to do. I hate unfairness and injustice; two qualities of most things in life. I want desperately to defend myself against unkind words: ever flowing towards the flaws I am keenly aware of. I rarely trust that silence will defend me.
Yet God asks us to trust silence. He says be still, to turn the other cheek, to close our mouth and allow Him to defend us. It goes against every instinct I possess. Which God mus know, because my life lately has been full of opportunities to rise up and speak loudly. God keeps telling me to sit down and to listen.
I have faced accusations of poor parenting, pilfering money, and (funniest of all) just being scary. I have watched my daughter be left out, demoted, and banned. My husband has had his hands tied and been told to clap: and then scolded for not clapping louder.
I want to shout from the mountain tops, send nasty emails, tell everyone I know who knows “you-know-who.” But God says don’t.
I have looked for the lesson in it all. I thought that God was really just trying to teach me to trust Him and to say nothing. In my silence, however, I found something unexpected: a deep and deafening sadness. It creeps up with no warning and leaves me awkwardly crying at the wind.
In all my intent, my forced quiet, I have remained silent towards God. Don’t get me wrong, I have pled desperately with Him for change, but have not shared with Him the depths of the hurt.
When He asks us to be silent, He asks us also to cast our cares upon Him. The word cast means to “continually cast.” It is the idea that it is to be done over and over again. Why would God offer such provision? He knew that cares return as quickly as they are cast.
He asks us to trust silence. Not that we are to hold back and hold on, but quite the opposite. We are to truly let go, which requires giving it away. That is my current lesson: to give to Him the things that feel unfair, unjust, unkind. He may not change the circumstance, He may not change the minds of those around me, but He will handle the hurt. And in the end that is what really matters.