We all know the fast food lines are long and service is crazy everywhere right now. Shipping is never on time, and everyone's nerves are a bit frazzled on both ends of the counter. So this morning, while I was picking up groceries, I stopped by the deli to have some sandwich meat sliced for the week. There was a woman in front of me waiting and she had been waiting awhile. After a bit of a wait myself, I asked her if she had already been helped or had she spoken to anyone yet. She said she hadn't seen anyone yet. So I thought I would go through the grocery store and get the rest of my list and then come back and see if things were moving along any better. After I walked away, the lady called out to me and said, "He's here now!" The man who worked at the deli came up to help her and whatever she was asking him for he told her they did not sell it at that location. She seemed shocked that the particular type of meat she wanted was not available at that deli and asked him again, "You don't sell it here?" He bristled a little and said, "No, we don't." The slight aggravation of her voice and his were easy to understand. Neither of them were in the best of moods now. So she said incredulously, "Well Okay" and walked away. Great, now I have to face a slightly perturbed deli man. He asked me if he could help me, and as I was speaking to him he walked off to do something else. I thought for a moment, "This can go the way it's going, or it can go the way I would like for it to go. How would I like for it to go?" When he walked back over to me, appearing obviously irritated, I smiled and asked for the meats I came to buy as if nothing had happened. He took out the meat and instead of standing there quietly, eye balling each other somewhat uncomfortably, I just said, "You know, this may be an ignorant question on my part, but I'm sure you'll be able to tell me how some of these other meats like pastrami, pepperoni, are usually used? Are they usually just for sandwiches or is there some other way people use them?" I decided to talk to him and ask him for his opinion because I thought, perhaps he's tired of being treated like a robot, and maybe it would be nice if someone valued his opinion for a moment. The man seemed to soften, and he started telling me of several ways the meats could be cooked or used which were genuinely all interesting to me. After that we had a long conversation which led us to sharing how we grew up and so forth. He was a very nice and intelligent man, and I enjoyed talking with him while he worked. As I left, I thanked him and told him I really enjoyed our conversation. He said he did as well. I left him better than I received him. Listen, I haven't always done that. I have made mistakes and allowed my mood and emotions to guide me at other times, and it never turns out well. But the more I see the aggravation people are feeling come out, the more I long to see it change. In a split second of time I had a decision to make, would I respond or navigate the mood of the moment?
Last night, my husband and I went out to get dinner from KFC because we have both been so busy and are so tired we just opted for take out and straight to bed. But a similar thing happened last night as well. We went through the drive thru and placed our order. When we reached the window the man came to the window to confirm the order, and it was the wrong order. My husband said, "No, that's not the right order" the man at the window immediately took on defensive body language and an irritated tone of voice. I felt bad for him because to me, he seemed tired. I was tired. My husband is tired. And I really feel like this man had probably dealt with one thing after another all day long. But here I am, glad he's working because we were able to get dinner somewhere tonight and not have to cook it ourselves. We were tired, he was tired, everyone is tired. But immediately, in a split second, a decision was made, and I leaned over and smiled at him and said, "It's all good, you're doing a good job. Don't worry about it." His demeanor visibly changed. He literally relaxed, smiled, and took a deep breath, looked down and shook his head. I don't know what he's had to deal with, but I'm not going to be the next same thing. I don't care how inconvenient it may be or how tired I am. I'm tired of all the ugliness too. We are never too tired to be patient and kind. My husband also told him everything was fine. And the man apologized and was as sweet natured as he could be.
The Bible tells us, “ A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) here's the thing though; The soft answer often has to come in a split second of a decision and if our spirits are not prepared to follow the Spirit of God in that split second, the wrong decision will be made because our flesh will make it. Everyone is tired, but believer, we are supposed to be different, and we have the wisdom (God's Word) to bring light and peace into situations that are in desperate need of it. Jesus would be patient; Jesus would be kind. I say all of this because we all, myself included, need to be reminded to slow down, calm down, and keep what's most important first. We overcome this world by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. That means our reactions and actions are extremely important in this world. Maybe now that you have read this, you may be reminded at your next stop to try and let someone know that you value them by simply listening, making eye contact, being patient, smiling, and maybe even saying, "Thank you, I'm glad you are here." Let your feet be accompanied by the spirit of peace and your mouth filled with "pleasant words like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)