Hard to Mind Your Own Business when Public Meltdowns Happen

Ed, my neighbor next door, showed up at the store last week to check out our Halloween costumes. Halloween brings the kid, or inner child, out of Ed in full force. “Don’t miss out on the fun of Halloween just because you are an old geezer,” Ed always tells me. He isn’t going out with his grandchildren trick or treating this Halloween, but he’ll be dressed up in a costume to answer the door.

Ed is no shopper, but he came to the store in good spirits to look at our adult Halloween costumes. Unfortunately, his good spirits were dampened, I discovered, when he told me, “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I could hardly move for people and some sweet-looking little old lady clipped my seat with her shopping cart with the force of a freight train.” Ed was telling me this like he was an assault victim.

“Didn’t she say sorry or anything?” I asked Ed.

Ed replied, “She said, ‘Watch it mister! If you slow down somebody will run over you. People are here to shop, not snooze!’” Ed went on to say, “Her tone was so scary, as she pushed by me and ran over my toe with her cart, I was afraid to say anything.”

“Well did you find a great costume anyway?” I asked Ed.

“Almost. Two traumatized young parents with their several children including a cranky toddler were shopping for costumes also. Just as I had it narrowed to two great costumes, the toddler had a screaming meltdown that had my eardrums taking cover in my toes. The dad said that he would take the soprano to the van, but the sweet-looking old lady with her bumper shopping cart materialized out the mass of shoppers to tell her son to let the kid scream as it wouldn’t hurt anything. She was sure he would get over it in no time. The kid went on for an eternity, so I grabbed one of the two costumes and headed for the checkout, but even the express checkouts were backed up around the store. Like a bad dream, the raise-the-roof toddler and his family plus grandma got into my checkout line. The toddler went into another screaming fit that was looking like he was going to upgrade to a hurricane, so I got out of line and left the costume on a sales display and exited the store,” Ed explained.

“No hard feelings I hope,” I asked Ed.

“Of course there are hard feelings,” Ed said. “Toddler or grandma – if they tick me off I don’t forgive -I just get away from them.  Why should I forgive strangers that annoy me? I don’t even forgive my own family unless they smarten up and deserve to be forgiven.”

Ed could see I was about to say something about forgiveness or God and scattered away from me fast. I just wanted to say that we expect others to earn our forgiveness. Yet we know that we ourselves cannot be perfect and earn our forgiveness before God. In Jesus Christ, God offers us the undeserved forgiveness we need. Our transgressions are forgiven that is our sins are covered. Although we are guilty of sin before God, he does not count our sins against us. It is the greatest forgiveness ever.

Forgiveness so great it has to be shared with others.

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Raymond Maher
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