Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Last night, on my way home from work, I stopped to get gas. (I wish the story ended there, but that would make for a much less poignant Facebook note)
I was in a hurry, attempting to make it to soundcheck on time in preparation for an amazing night at church, so the last thing I needed was a man coming up to me as I attempted to pay with my debit card at the pump. I had inserted my card and was selecting my fuel grade when he appeared at my side.
He spoke in broken English and seemed very frantic; apparently, he had paid inside and then gotten into the car and drove away, forgetting to fill his tank. According to him, if I continued, I was going to be filling my tank with his prepaid gas, and he wanted me to come inside so the clerk could confirm that his $10 was still on my pump; I needed to find another available pump in the already overcrowded gas station.
Blame Lakewood, or the fact that a man had been shot point-blank in the head right around the corner from my office the afternoon before, or call me paranoid – but I immediately doubted his motives. I didn’t have time for this, and I certainly didn’t want to move my car to another pump so that he could fill his tank on my credit card because I naively believed his “prepaid story”. This seemed like something I would hear about on the evening news – the next big scam. So, I had to go inside to confirm before I did what he was asking me to do.
And as we proceeded with figuring this mess out, I became someone I successfully avoid becoming on a consistent basis; I treated him like the nuisance I felt he was.
I sighed heavily, and repeatedly. I went inside with him but avoided eye contact; I was irritated and inconvenienced and I checked my phone persistently… I was a complete and total brat. And I knew it. Something whispered, but I suppressed it.
I was agitated that he was “so tired” from work that he had gotten into his car after paying and drove off like a complete flake. (More whispering)
I was dismissing the man’s apologies with a half-hearted smile. I was agreeing with the clerk, who was barking at the poor man that he “couldn’t babysit his pump” if he had left by mistake, and it was the man’s problem and not his. I ignored the tiny tinge of guilt I was feeling and reminded myself that this was not my fault. I was just being cautious in not trusting his story. Right?
When the clerk confirmed that the pump in question was still ready with his prepaid $10 and had not read my debit card after all, I knew at this point that I was doing the right thing by moving my car, and that the man was genuine in his mistake, but I had yet to change my attitude. Stupid pride.
I glanced at my cell phone, confirming that my five minute stop for gas had turned into a twenty-five minute ordeal. Crankiness prevails, overshadowing the quiet whispering going on inside.
I stomped back to my car, muttering “yeah, it’s okay. Its fine.” to his persistent apologies and repeated confirmation that, in fact, it was his fault and not mine. I filled my tank and he filled his; he attempted to make nice with friendly chatter. I had no interest in chatting it up. The minutes ticked by, and I was in a hurry. I thought about the other gas station up the road and how, ironically, I had chosen this one at the last minute because it was a few cents cheaper. Go figure.
But, my naturally sparkling personality (haha, and by “naturally sparkling personality”, I mean Jesus) got the best of me. My heart softened almost instantly. I became sympathetic, and I sincerely accepted his apology as I got back in my car, smiling to let him know I was no longer angry. I felt guilty, but knew I had to leave graciously… God wouldn’t allow me to drive away after treating this stranger like a complete and total jerk. I raised my hand in a sheepish wave, and told him to enjoy the sunshine and the rest of his night.
I got into my car, but before I shut my door, I heard the last words out of his mouth.“I’m so very sorry. Drive carefully… God bless you and keep you.”
Now, I’m late for soundcheck, guilt-ridden and teary-eyed as I make the five minute drive to my house.
What a complete idiot I had been. This poor man probably had just as stressful of a day as I had. Who am I to place myself so far above him? My time was not more valuable than his.
He had made a mistake that I know I am capable of making – or will make in the future. He may have been spending his last $10 on gas. I would have been just as concerned about the $10, too, so why was I so quick to allow irritation to set in? Why didn't I joke with him about how that sounds like something I would do, or tell him to just be grateful he didn't drive away with the pump still in his car?
“What if you’re the only Jesus that someone will ever see?” This hadn’t been in my mind until I drove away… but obviously, it had been in his.
Ouch, ouch… OUCH.
I know we’re human, I know we made mistakes, and I know we’re saved by grace – but wow. What a reality check for me, on this beautiful Wednesday afternoon. What kind of a representation had I just been?I know I didn’t blatantly disrespect him or cause a scene, but it was worse in my mind because I knew, deep down, that I wasn’t handling the situation as I would have liked. I was aware of the whispering going on inside of me, but left it at that: I was just aware.
Everyone is fighting a battle, and everyday, we’re faced with decisions. We can treat someone with the impersonal carelessness of the world, or we can treat people – no matter what the situation – with our gifted dignity and grace. Unfortunately, falling on my face was the only way to remind myself of this. It was His way of telling me to slow down. Everyday is another opportunity to love, and to shower people with compassion and understanding. I had missed this chance, but I won’t miss another. Living in fear, in the best sense of the word, is just a great thing. A good fear will make us aware of our chances, and the importance of choosing the right direction when we come to a “fork” in the road.
I know I missed yesterday’s opportunity, but that just means that the next time someone makes a mistake and I’m faced with a decision, I can walk confidently down the right path. He made the mistake, and I was the one who learned the lesson. I love how that works.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Negativity sort of envelopes you like a cloud, and I'm having trouble shaking it. It's not a big deal, and it will pass - but it sure is unsettling while it's here.
However. It's nice to be reminded that what goes up, must come down. And what comes down, can only go back up again :) I know it's easy to preach happiness and positivity, but when the spotlight is on me: all of a sudden it's not so easy anymore.
There's a quiet comfort in sadness that makes it attractive. Unfortunately. It's why people dwell. Sometimes, it feels almost peaceful there, like you can just relax and think and wonder and analyze without the guilt or temptation to put on a show.
I'll get over this quickly. But this should be light to your path; everyone stumbles. Everyone has their moments. Everyone falters and everyone wishes something could be different.
It doesn't mean life is any less beautiful, or that God is any less present.
And that, my friends, is true comfort.
Monday, April 27, 2009
If you don't know what the Dream Center is, check out their website. The Senior Pastor, Matthew Barnett, came and spoke to us several months ago at one of our UnitedONE nights, and completely changed my world. I cannot wait to spend a week there, with people from home, serving God and loving His people. It's going to be life-changing. I didn't think it would work out for me to go, but funds and vacation time fell into place today - and now I'm on my way.
SO excited. God is doing big things in L.A., and I'm exited to go experience everything that He has in store for us!
About The Dream Center
Friday, April 24, 2009
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
In the MSG version, it's a little more abrupt, which I love:
God will fight the battle for you. And you?
You keep your mouths shut!"
God had instructed Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, to free them from oppression. It's a pretty crazy story, because God wanted, in leading them out, to give the Pharaoh a stubborn heart to chase them down. Ultimately, God could then put His Glory on display, and the Egyptians would believe that He was God.
However, when the Egyptians caught up to them in the wilderness, the Israelites were convinced that they'd been taken into the wilderness to die. They thought this was the end... verses before even have them "crying out in terror to God", in fear of the Egyptians.
(Don't worry, eventually God instructed Moses to part the sea, the Isrealites were led to safety and the Egyptian army was destroyed, but if you want all the details of that, check out http://biblegateway.com to read it - I definiately recommend the Message Version)
Let me ask you this... how much of the Israelites do you see in yourself? When you're afraid, do you cry out in terror to God, begging him for His aid? Or does your faith overpower your fear, and allow you to lay everything down at His feet, for Him to handle?
Of course, times have changed. No one is going to step into your life to "part the seas", if you will, but the bottom line is, God designed us to be conquerors. But He never intended for us to conquer this world on our own.
Don't ever forget about your ultimate Power. Even in the fire.
If God is for us, who could be against us? Romans 8:31
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be
shaken, for He is right beside me.
- Psalm 16:8 (NLT)
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Like, with a passion that burns deep inside of me – I loathe it.
Now, I understand that my saying this could be considered “negative”, but a) give me a break and b) I’m allowed to combat things in my life that I believe slow us down. Sorry, I am.
And I say “us”, as in a collective generation – because I think we can change it if we own up to it. And, of course, there’s the fact that it’s my Facebook note. So, if you don’t agree, you don’t have to continue reading. But just a fair warning; if you don’t agree, it probably means you’re the person that should read this the most and I’m probably talking about or inspired by you, but whatever. Go dwell in a corner, Negative Nancy.
I just want to shake people that seem to focus on or affirm every aspect of their life with some sort of negative pretense. It’s annoying, really annoying.I hate negativity and its gang of loser friends: Complaining. Judgment. Apathy. Pessimism. Offense. I hate it all. I think it’s a cancer that dwells deep inside us, and it’s up to us to battle it DAILY and keep it out of every single area of our lives.
I’m obviously not perfect, and I have my days where I’d rather complain than attempt to see the bright side, but those are fleeting. In fact, they’re kind of funny lately. I’ll have a moment of frustration, where I complain to anyone who will listen or completely curse the darkness. But it never makes me feel better. In fact, I often have a very awkward pause after the end of my vent session. It’s very much like God is staring at me, one eyebrow raised and arms crossed like the Father he is, almost as if to say : “do you feel better now?”And I never do.
I’m also not justifying ignorant naivety or sheer oblivion. There’s a way to be real, without having to suck the life out of everyone and everything around you with your crude “reality”.
Offense is a choice. You can argue all you want, but if you choose to not be offended, you never will be. How’s that for brilliant? Stop thinking everyone has it out for you and everything is working against you, and you’ll instantly feel the weight lifted.This may hurt to hear, but this world doesn’t revolve around you anyway, so the minute you stop expecting that very thing, you’ll avoid disappointment and let down and hurt and offense and blah, blah, blah. Seriously, how do people have time for this? My day would be completely consumed with crying and whining about what everyone is doing or saying or not doing or not saying if I chose to live that way, and I would never get anything done – let alone anything productive or world changing. Get over yourself. I say this with only love and encouragement. No offense. HA.
Another thing: build someone else UP. You’ll be amazed at how much better YOU feel, when you focus on improving someone else’s day. I’m not saying that we need to set off into the world solely to compliment someone else, expecting an instant return. But it you live generously, it will come back. I promise. And the sun will shine just a little brighter for you.
Here’s another reminder, for those of you to which this applies: you may be the only Jesus that anyone will ever see. Is that a scary thought? It should be. And I know you’ve heard it all before, and some of your Negative Nancy’s who are reading this note out of sheer curiosity are probably rolling your eyes right now and thinking “oh, Corianne, you’re so textbook”… well, stop. Those of you who have answered the call and actively work as His hands and feet – are you representing Him well? When we break each other down, complain about the church, drag our feet, keep score, make assumptions… we are very poor representation of why we do what we do. And people notice. They do, I promise. Stop allowing division and apathy. I’m done taking one step forward and two steps back, and you should be too.
And pessimism. You’re not being “pragmatic” or a “realist”. Get over yourself. Pessimism is negativity dressed up in fancy clothing. Call it what it is. If your glass is half-empty, find the source and replenish, you big downer! Stop beating around the bush, dropping subtle hints so people will ask what is wrong. If something is wrong, fix it immediately. Don’t wait for someone else to come around and top you off, because it won’t happen. Think of it this way. In this life, we’re all patrons in a buffet. We have a vast assortment of resources, chances and opportunities readily available to us, but there’s no waiter or waitress ready to serve you around the clock. You have to get up and do it yourself. If your glass/plate is empty… whose fault is that?
I feel so much better.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Oh yes, definitely. I very much do; with caller ID and custom ringtones and all other various forms of technology, it's kind of hard not to.
When was the last time you lost your temper?
Hmm, it's been awhile. I don't lose my temper as much as I have little "mini-meltdowns", or just get so frustrated that I burst into tears.
When you're lost, do you ask for directions?
Depends on the level in which I am lost. In a completely in a different city that where I should have been? Yes. Two appaernt blocks away but cannot find the right turn I'd written down on a napkin? No. I'm stubborn - and spoiled. 9 times out of 10 - OnStar to the rescue!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
1. Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie
This song has just annoyed me thoroughly, for quite some time
2. You're Beautiful - James Blunt
Repetitive and unimaginative... He talks about being "f#$ing high"... always a nice addition to an attempt at a love song.
3. Believe - Cher
No, no, no, no.
4. Bootylicious - Beyonce
I can't even say the word "bootylicious".
5. Nookie - Limp Bizkit
Yuck. Come on, Fred.
6. Blue - Eiffel 65
I WANTED TO SCREAM EVERYTIME IT CAME ON.
7. Lollipop - Lil' Wayne
I cannot stand him, and this song is just the icing on the cake.
8. Milkshake - Kelis
People need real jobs - writing music like this should not earn them a living.
9. If You Steal My Sunshine - Len
I just remember being haunted by it, on the radio.
10. Underneath Your Clothes - Shakira
loathe her, and anything she's released. She can dance, but that is IT.