One could probably guess, since I live in the DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia (DMV) area that daily anger interventions may be necessary. However, I’ve taken the politicking, aggressive driving and traffic congestion in stride because there is a lot to be enjoyed in the area. But, somehow I was taken by surprise at what happened at what I thought would be a quick and uneventful trip to the store.
I departed to go to the store at a time when traffic was least congested in hopes of getting to the store and returning at a reasonable time. All was going well until I got to the cashier to pay for my items. As I approached the desk to put my merchandise on the counter, a young lady quickly approached me and asked if she could go before me because she was on her lunch break and needed to return to work quickly. “No problem,” I responded. As she only had one item, her transaction was completed quickly. So, I began placing my items on the counter. Out of what seemed like nowhere, a lady approached the cashier and asked him why would he ring me up before her? Huh? I was honestly confused and so was the cashier but he did not speak. Where had she come from? Who is she? Before I could clear my head from the confusion she then proceeded to tell me that she knew I would be at the desk when she arrived. She told me to stop following her and that she knew I was the CIA. Again, huh? I didn’t know how to respond. I was truly baffled. She was acting a bit aggressive and speaking loudly. She continued on her rant about how America was going to Hell especially the CIA and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed the police. She told the person who was on the phone that there is a lady (me) following her and she needed to report it.
Believe it or not, I had the presence of mind to pray. I asked God what He wanted me to do or say in this moment. My spirit was not quickened to do anything but stay silent. Again, I asked, “Anything God? What should I do?” But I was not compelled to say or do anything but be mindful of my surroundings. The cashier continued to ring me up. He completed my transaction but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving. I asked him if he wanted me to notify anyone and he stated “no, everything would be okay.”
I spent days thinking about this incident…punishing myself for not reacting appropriately. But, what was appropriate? What was right?
Respond in Anger
I have never been a person to respond in anger so it was far from me to respond in that way on this occasion. Albeit, the lady was ranting quite loudly and acting aggressive, I was not compelled to respond likewise. I learned decades ago that you can’t “fight fire with fire.” It just doesn’t work. On most occasions, it only escalates the matter.
In fact, God’s word teaches me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19). I can’t imagine being able to rightly think with my head and heart in anger. In fact, it seems like she was giving full vent to whatever rage she had in her for whatever reason but “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Proverbs 29:11).”
Respond with Encouraging or Enlightening Words?
I really really wanted God to inspire me to say something that would encourage or enlighten the lady but nothing came to mind. I mean nothing. After thinking about what happened, I have come to realize that the only appropriate response should have been God inspired. Of course, I could have quoted scripture but would that have meant anything to her. In God’s time and under God’s direction are seeds planted and watered. I Corinthians 3: 7-9 (NIV) tells me that “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” As a co-worker in God’s service, I can only plant and water as directed by God.
On this occasion, nothing came to mind. I know what my human knowledge and human understanding was telling me would be the appropriate response. But, I live in the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). What may give the appearance of being right may not actually been appropriate or helpful.
Respond in Silence
Perhaps God did answer. Perhaps my silence was the response God wanted from me. If the lady was looking for confrontation, anything I said could have escalated the matter.
The truth is that my disappointment in my response was due to me thinking I knew what God wanted. Instead of praying, waiting for His reply and trusting that reply, I felt there was more I should be doing. I have come to realize that we are all broken in different places and that God heals us in those distinct places according to His plan. And, my silence is how he chose to use me that day. There was no further incident. She left the store shortly after I did. And, I pray that God heals whatever ails her.