I Didn’t Have to Do It, but I Did

Well, today’s the day here at Our Savior. The students are back in the classrooms, the teachers are moving at top speed—well, maybe not top speed, since it’s only a half day—and the world is quickening its pace even as we continue to cruise along together in the mercies of Christ.

I’m a little short on time this morning, so I’ll need to be quick. And honestly, with the flurry of morning activities before us here at the church, not much is coming to mind at the moment. Although, as I was walking out of the school yesterday before the balloon launch with Shirley Sturkin and Georgine Shelton, I mentioned to them to remind me to share the story about what happened to me during a recent visit to the Home Depot in Fenton. I suppose I can share the story with all of you and see where it goes. Being that the seriousness of the year is upon us, maybe it’ll at least lighten the mood and make you smile. And maybe by the time I’m done, there’ll be something of theological value here, too. We’ll see.

Anyway, I have a t-shirt that I like to wear when I’m doing work around the house. It’s one that Jennifer bought for me at Walmart a few years back. It says “England” across the breast and has the Union Jack prominently displayed. I like the shirt. In fact, I like it a lot, and I happened to be wearing it one day while visiting the Home Depot in Fenton in search of wood screws and wall plates for some electrical outlets I intended to install in a basement storage closet.

I found the wood screws first, and then I made my way to the main aisle that would lead me to the section where I’d find the remainder of my required items. To get there, it was necessary to pass the appliance department. On approach, there was a rather rugged looking fellow who appeared to be guarding multiple flatbeds, each bearing some larger appliances—things like dishwashers and microwave ovens. It was an impressive stash of items he was preparing to purchase. But even with his remarkable train of products, the man himself stood out as most notable in the collection. He was decked in red, white, and blue from top to bottom. Everything on him bore an American flag, from his bandana to his pants. Even his shoes testified to the pageantry. Admittedly, being the patriot that I am, I was impressed, and I felt almost as if I should remove my hat and put my hand over my heart as I passed him.

But I didn’t, and that’s because as I made my way toward him, I could more than tell that he’d locked onto me with a stare. Having forgotten what was on the t-shirt I was wearing, I didn’t know why, at least not until he spoke.

“Nice shirt,” he intoned sarcastically. I smiled and kept my passing pace. But then he added, “Ashamed of your own flag, friend?”

Now, I suppose most folks would probably just have allowed the man his space and kept walking, relegating his rudeness to the obvious fact that he was more so zealous about the American flag than most. But still, I was a bit irritated, and I certainly didn’t feel like explaining to him that I’m not ashamed of my country’s flag. I love America. But I also love the freedom I have to wear my England t-shirt while working on my home. Still, what I did next, I suppose, could get me into trouble one day, and not just because I frequent this Home Depot fairly regularly, but because there’s always that chance that this guy might wander into Our Savior one day, and when he discovers me in the pulpit, things could get interesting pretty quickly.

Anyway, as immediately as he spoke, I turned and offered in my best British accent something like, “Oy, mate! It’s ’ard enough I’ve to drive my motorcar on the wrong side o’ the road, but must I also be coerced into ’splaining my shirt?!

As you can probably guess, I didn’t stick around long. Although, I stayed long enough to note that the surprise on his face was worth at least a couple of quid.

Returning to my previous pace, I continued my quest. I didn’t want to continue the engagement because if I found myself drawn into an actual conversation, one in which I’d have to keep the charade alive, he would’ve eventually noticed that I can’t keep the accent going for too long before it devolves into something more attuned to an Australian trying to sound Jamaican.

I can’t say for sure, but I do think he tried to apologize as I walked away. I think he said something about respecting America’s allies. Well, whatever. I turned the corner of the aisle I needed, grabbed my wall plates, and then took the long way back to the checkout lanes, traveling first among the ceiling fans and then through the outdoor garden department, all in an effort to evade my star spangled antagonist and the possibility of being forced to betray my truest accent.

I suppose that in the end—and for the sake of the limited time I have in this moment for writing an eNewsletter introduction of any real meaning for you—the takeaways here could be a few different things. The first is that I’m just as normal as you when it comes to life in the world around us. (Well, sort of normal.) I get frustrated and respond in ways that I should try better to keep in check. The second is that we ought to be careful to impose our suppositions on others based solely on what we see. Everything you see may suggest a validity in your comments, that is until the person opens his mouth to speak, and then you realize you were all wrong. I think this guy figured out really quickly that he should be more careful about who he criticizes in public. Another could be that even when challenged, rather than challenging back in a way that has more than enough potential for backfiring, we can trust that we are free to be who we are in Christ and simply converse. Looking back, I’m guessing because of my frustration, in a knee-jerk reaction to teach the guy a lesson, I missed a really good chance to not only share with him just how much I love my country and her flag, but I could have used that avenue of conversation to share with him the name of a really great church where he, too, could hear the Good News of the Gospel that, as Christians, we are free to enjoy in this nation.

I suppose there will be other opportunities in the future for getting this right. As I noted at the beginning, as God’s people, we are cruising along in the mercies of Christ each and every day. With that, we can be assured that there will be. Also, we can be assured that we’re well and good when these moments come along, and we are more than equipped to use them to the glory of Christ and the benefit of the neighbor.

You know, now that I’ve typed this, I feel like it’s something I could use over at AngelsPortion.com. In fact, I probably will. I can think of a particular something that I tried just this past week that would meet up with the narrative very well.

Anyway, I hope this helped to ease your morning stress, and maybe it even brought you a little smile.