I got into a fight with a woman in a fast food drive-thru lane.
Not a fist fight, but a yelling match where she got out of the car and furiously pointed fingers and cussed at me. I took the bait and yelled back, and with my hand still on the steering wheel, displayed a finger gesture of my own.
Even worse than that? I had just come from teaching a bible lesson at Vacation Bible School.
Even worse than that? I was wearing a VBS shirt and a cheery button on my volunteer lanyard that said “Love others the way you want to be loved.”
Even worse than that? I had my two young kids in the car with me.
After it was all over, I reluctantly looked at myself in the rear view mirror. I realized that I was exactly the reason the words “hypocrite” and “Christian” are used together so often in the same sentence.
It took exactly 1.5 minutes for me to forget everything I had just taught the precious children in church, and engage in crazy with a stranger.
She thought I wasn’t moving fast enough and I was offended at her rude gestures. So stupid in hindsight. But in the heat of the moment, so hard to rise above. The scrappy fighter in me just couldn’t be had.
Why is that? When did the world get so furious? Why is everyone chomping at the bit to feel victimized and outraged over the smallest of things?
Self-control is a big issue for me, and I’ve come a long way. But at the drop of a hat I forgot all of it. How could I go from being on a bible-lesson-high straight to being a part of the problem before I even got home?
Thank goodness my kids were mostly oblivious. My 2 year old didn’t register what happened, and my 7 year old casually asked what was wrong with “the sassy talker” before being fully-focused on the toy in his fast food sack.
But I couldn’t just let it slide, because they had to have known I wasn’t acting like I normally would.
On the way home, I talked about how sometimes people have bad days and little things can really upset them. Myself included.
I said I did not handle the situation well and that I wish I had done a lot better. Mom makes big mistakes too and asks God for help all the time.
And I said if I ever saw the lady again, I would say I’m sorry. Even if she didn’t want to accept my apology, I would offer it. And she would at least remember I offered it.
If I earn any bonus points for making mistakes in front of them and acknowledging it, then what a score, huh?
I shamefully avoided the “sassy talker” part of town for a while. My health thanked me, but I really regretted the way I behaved. It could have all been avoided if I would have just given grace. I feel like no one really does that anymore, and we’re all just waiting to engage.
I wonder how she feels about what happened. Does she also wish she could change her actions? Afterwards, did she let it ruin her day and take it out on someone else? What if I was the last straw in her day? Or what if that’s the norm for her?
I’ll never know. I carefully drove away from her because if she would have had a gun, I’d probably be dead right now.
I could have easily not told this story because it is embarrassing to me. I absolutely love my church and my God and I am proud to be a Christian.
But I’m also flawed, and I’m willing to humble myself. I hope that this may help you stop and think about how you may react to a similar situation when you are faced with one. Not if, when.
If you don’t like hypocrites in church then I have good news, and I have bad news.
The bad news is that there will always be flawed people in church that do not walk the perfect Christian life. Some of us sing the songs in church with all of our hearts and really mean them and have a really moving experience in worship. And then some of us leave church and then get into fights with random strangers in the drive-thru.
I don’t want to be a “drive-thru Christian.” I don’t want to pick and choose to be nice and encouraging when it’s convenient for me inside the church walls, and then declare that it’s game-on as soon as I step outside.
The good news is that Jesus will accept anyone. Even me. Even you. There is hope for us yet.
I don’t believe the illusions of perfection serve anyone, and I hope that by sharing, you will feel more validated in the mistakes you might make.
It doesn’t excuse or justify us making them, but when we see each other as imperfect human beings, we begin to really get somewhere in fellowship. And I think fellowship is what will change the world.
Sometimes the best words in the world are “me too.”
Go and be well, my friends. Christmas shopping season is here. And you may be hitting the drive thru on the way home.
Ask God for help. XOXO.