Choices ~ A Gentle Lesson ~ Joy DeKok
Author Note – this post has a happy ending. I promise.
Today was a day off chemo, and I decided that I would have an Author’s Date since I was feeling better than I have in a while. That’s when I go out with just me and all my techie tools to one of the local Caribous and do something fun while drinking coffee I love. No sweet or creamy stuff, although I enjoy them sometimes, but black is my favorite. And since it was lunchtime, a toasted bagel with almond honey cream cheese would be the perfect meal.
While they prepped my lunch, I got my table and tools ready for action.
After eating, I fired up my computer with one goal – to read my friend’s new book on prayer. When I got to the second chapter, what felt like disaster struck. I spilled my still almost full cup of coffee.
After picking up my empty cup, my immediate dilemma was deciding which thing to grab first: computer, E-reader, phone, or journal. With the coffee running in all directions and soaking into my favorite shirt and jeans, I quickly moved each to the other chair.
Then I needed napkins. Lots of them. And they were at the counter, and I thought, “Cool. I’ll get some help with the cleanup.”
Relieved there was a woman at the counter watching me, I said, “I made a mess . . .” I was going to ask for help, but after nodding, she walked away. I grabbed a bunch of napkins and went to rescue my things.
Napkins weren’t enough, so I returned to the counter where she was again standing and asked for a wet towel. She handed me a dirty one. After cleaning up the mess, I fumed silently while polishing the table to a high shine with yet more napkins and told myself a few things. My internal conversation when like this:
“When I get this cleaned up, I’m going to tell her I could have used some real help and a clean cloth. After all, it would have been the least she could have done. Right? Yes, right! Then I’m going to lodge a formal complaint with the manager – maybe even in writing. And I will surely mention the lack of customer service and the filthy towel.”
Oh yeah. I was on a roll.
When my stuff was as dry, I returned the towel to the counter where the woman no longer stood. I laid it out so she could see it was now dripping wet with my coffee. Surely that would earn me a fresh cup on the house, right? Nope.
That was the last straw, and I was going to teach her a lesson she wouldn’t forget. I would have satisfaction and a fresh cup of coffee, although my stomach clenched at the thought of more acid.
On my way back to the table, I decided the last thing I would do before I left was to stop in the women’s restroom and cry. I’d waited for a day like this for weeks, most of them the chemo-rugged kind. In the years before cancer, I’d had Author Dates regularly. On Fridays. Now, most of my Fridays are spent at Mayo.
First, I sat down, holding my stomach, which was now burning. My acid reflux was in overdrive, and I had no Pepcid. I thought to myself, “Well, isn’t this just fine?”
When I looked at my reflection on my dark computer screen and discovered my wig was on its way off my head – only slightly, but enough to notice. I pulled it back into place gently and took a shuddery breath. I was on an emotional edge. That’s when I told myself, “Pack it in and go home. It’s time for a nap. You are done.”
I shut the computer but stayed seated. I was determined to rally around my plans of complaints, criticism, and crying, but the anger evaporated. To my surprise, peace and quiet washed over me.
That was not me. That was God.
While my computer booted up, I tried to fire the anger back up and wondered if the enemy of my soul was doing his nasty best to ruin my long-hoped-for day. I wanted to blame him so badly. Surely this was spiritual warfare. Like when my friend’s dishwasher broke down, and she knew it was straight from the devil. At the time, I wondered because the machine was about fifteen years old, but she was much wiser than me, so maybe this was that.
Yeah – I know – so much drama over spilled coffee.
But the powerful calm wasn’t done with me, so I listened to the silent voice that spoke to me in love.
I had a choice to react or to respond.
My options were:
- Complain or forgive.
- Criticize or not.
- Cry or smile.
- Go home and take a nap or stay and have my Author’s Date with my friend’s book.
In power, not my own, I decided on the second choices, and I stayed. Instead of giving the woman behind the counter a lesson she wouldn’t forget, I received one from God, who loves me enough to teach me.
Does that mean that God spilled my coffee? No, I did that.
I’m back home now, and our Tucker is snuggled in close, my Pepcid is doing its work, and I’m wearing clean clothes again. My favorite shirt is soaking in the sink, and there’s a possibility I won’t get the stains out, but that’s okay. I will choose another shirt as my new favorite. Plus, my black jeans won’t show a stain, so that’s good. Besides, it’s Friday night, I’m feeling mostly okay, and my husband will take Tucker and me for a ride.
Until Next Time,
P. S. I’m reading chapter four in my friend’s book and am loving it! I can hardly wait to share it with you all soon.