It was a beautiful Friday morning and we were headed out to Destin, FL for a family weekend getaway. In the haste of trying to hit the road early, I decided to pick up ‘Little Swimmers’ for my 20-month old son either on the way there or when we got to our destination.
It was about two and half hours into our drive, passing through a small town in Alabama (name withheld on purpose) when we spotted a Walgreens. I beckoned to my husband to stop so we could just pick up what we need to allow for more beach time as soon as we arrive. The new diaper bags these days are styled as backpacks (hallelujah) because it makes for easy mobility of both hands, Amen! As I was getting out of the car, I heard a voice cautioning me that entering the store with this backpack might be an experience because of who I am perceived to be per society, and the fact that we were in a small town predominantly of a certain race different from mine. I smiled and decided to go after all it has the money I will need to pay plus, it’s my right…right?
So I walked into the store, finally found what I was looking for, picked it up from the shelf and made my way to the cashier to pay. As I was walking towards the line, I heard a voice asking “is that your handbag?” I thought I heard wrong so I turned and it was an elderly woman (race obvious to you from my previous statements about our location?) I asked “excuse me?” She asked the question again “is that your handbag?” At that moment, it was like I had been punched in the gut! But then I immediately remembered the moments right before I entered the store… it was like God had prepared me to expect something… I had a premonition?
I smiled at the lady and responded “yes, it is my handbag and a diaper bag” She then followed by asking “well where is the baby?” I swallowed the pride that was starting to form in my throat and responded again “oh he is in the car” She asked “by himself?” Again I smiled and said “oh no, he’s with my husband and seven year old daughter” At that point I could see her defenses, or ignorance start to fade a bit and she responded “because these days you never know with what you hear in the news about shootings, bombs and babies left in cars…” I diverted the conversation to babies. End of story. I left Walgreens feeling very blessed that God has worked on my heart and that forgiveness and grace is what I walk in daily. This situation could have gone a different direction but knowing what I value and whose I belong to, I chose to let my response be my responsibility… and noone else’s… not history, not perceptions, not the rights, nobody’s but mine. So what do you do in a situation like this?
1. Envision your response: there is something powerful about beating the enemy by their own game. By training your mind through envisioning a future response, you are preparing yourself to be ready. Irrespective of what stones are thrown at you, you choose your response and not allow the response to choose you. Before I stepped out of the car, I had the thought and rather than dismissing it, I imagined how I would respond should a situation like that occur. And it did, so because I had envisioned it, my response was the physical manifestation of just that.
2. Have a forgiving heart: for the peace that surpasses all understanding to be evident in you, you have to choose to forgive the past, the present, the future. It’s not as simple as it sounds, that is why you get to walk the path of forgiveness with Jesus; allowing Him to show you the way and how to forgive. In its simplest form, I pray for those who offend me. That takes everything in me especially in moments of disappointment but that is the moment when my heart is free and the offender no longer has a hold on my heart.
3. Remind yourself to be responsible for your response: rely less on your feelings and more on your head and the choices you make. Remember the consequences of what your response could create, it’s not only about you and your life; it’s about all the relationships you have. In simple terms, think before you act. In the moment when the elderly lady was badgering me with questions, I thought I have a right but in that moment, I also thought I have a family, I have a life and I respect myself too much to respond any other way than love.
Life is full of unpredictable circumstances that is why you make choices that elevate you and the devil be shamed.