Several Excellent Excuses

I never got in trouble for something I never said. Was that Harry Truman? I’ll have to look it up. Nope, Calvin Coolidge – but I think it sounds a little like Truman. This might not surprise you but while that makes sense to me intellectually, it’s never really taken ahold of me behavioristically, mostly. Sometimes I’m an extroverted introvert that needs and finds time alone to be renewing of the spirit and sustaining of the heart, and sometimes I’m an extroverted extrovert where crowds of people give me an energy that brings life and hope. I don’t always know which is going to be the nature of the day, and I also have learned over the years to choose, even when it isn’t the nature of the day, to be the way work, or family, or friends deserve and need me to be.

The last 18+1 years of 2020’s last seven months have been a little hard. I know you know. And when that happens, I’m mature enough to know that one needs NOT to press “send” before many thinkings, but then there’s Tuesday. Oh I know, Mondays are supposed to be the deal, but adrenalin gets me through the working I must do on Mondays, but then there’s Tuesday, ah, then there’s Tuesday. There are no cute but annoying camel commercials about Tuesday and hump day. There are no same but different TGIF monograms for Tuesday because really? TGIT??? There was Ruby Tuesday’s, but then they went bankrupt, so . . .

A week ago Tuesday, not getting in trouble for something I never sent was not the case. It hasn’t done permanent damage to my career or relationships, at least that I’m aware. But my rather firm tone and excruciatingly clear choices of the exact words to get the very pointed point across was not lost on the reader. We have made amends, but in the middle of the night, were you awake too? In the middle of that Tuesday night I rolled it over and over and over in my head. Did I have a legitimate and justified point? I think objectively probably so. Was I clear and respectful? In legal terms, yes. But was the pointedness of my written word quite that necessary? Not so much.

There was a book back in the 1980’s, yes, 40 years ago, put out for adult discipleship classes entitled: “Yes Lord I Have Sinned, but I Have Several Excellent Excuses.” I never used it for a class, it really wasn’t very good or well-written, but the title was THE BEST! I still love the title. It’s sorta like Seinfeld-ian humor. It takes some little thing that we either all think, or some behavior we all have, and magnifies it in a way that makes us laugh at ourselves a little and recognize the truth about ourselves a LOT! When I’m awake in the middle of a random Tuesday night after hitting send, and reflecting on the impact of words, as soon as I start telling myself why I probably did what I did and what was beneath the surface of my annoyance or hurt, (several EXCELLENT excuses) it is both helpful AND can lead me down a rabbit trail away from both taking justified responsibility for not pausing before I hit send to reflect on the impact, and from realizing I’m human and may need to ask not only forgiveness from the receiver and from God, but a willingness to forgive myself – maybe the harder part.

One of the things I believe our faith asks us through the life of Jesus, is . . . is it more important to be right or to be in relationship? There are legitimate reasons for both depending on the circumstances but maybe more often than not, the relationship is more the focus in the gospel.

Jesus heals the man with demons living among the tombs and then tells him to go back and be in relationship with the very people that cast him out of community because of their fear of him and his disability. Jesus offers the woman at the well in Samaria forgiving grace and living water, and then sends her back to the community to be in relationship with those who have ostracized her to tell them the good news about Jesus’ grace. The power of relationship.

I wonder sometimes if we’ve lost our value of being in relationship with each other. Especially on random Tuesdays in the 18+1 years that 2020 has taken in the last 7 months. Sometimes when I find myself more frowny and brooding than I am want to be, I’ll ask myself why I’m so cranky – sometimes I can figure it out, and sometimes I can’t quite put my finger on it. Either way, if I’m aware that’s the case, I can choose how to vent that crankiness – not deny that it exists – but how to let it go with prayer or an act of charity or a DQ blizzard or a run down a sun dappled path or listening to my girl-power music or all of the above plus a few more. I can reiterate to myself that nobody every got in trouble for something they never said (or sent), but if the toothpaste is already out of the tube, the bumper sticker quote isn’t likely as effective.

BTW, the actual quote is: “I have never been hurt by something I didn’t say.” – 30th President Calvin Coolidge. I think I like the gloss of it better! I sorta want to come up with a witty quote by Jesus about the same thing, but I think that’s not really how Jesus works. The more faithful reading would probably take me to the beatitudes . . . you know, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (sometimes translated as right-relationship), blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers . . . there’s a reason to commit those to memory. They tend to echo around in my head more loudly on random Tuesday middle of the night when I decided to press “send” when the better part would have been to wait. Thank heavens grace ain’t just the name of a place in Olathe!