"If you can't say somethin nice....don't say nothin at all". Thumper in the movie'Bambi'
Today is not a good day. It happens sometimes, and that is usually fine, but not when the choices you make are the reason the day is bad. It started out with something as simple as a propane company.
We have had the same company for several years and they have been a little expensive, so we decided to change to a different company in town. That would have been fine, except that when John called to change the company, the old company told him they were charging us $105.00 to take their tank off of our land. John and I both got a little (ok, a lot) upset about it. It represents money that we don't have to spare right now because of some financial things that have happened in the last month or so. Anyway, John was angry and I guess he went to the office and said some things that he probably shouldn't have because he would not calm down. Anyway, one of the ladies from the office came in to see me today and she said John is the worst customer she has ever dealt with since she has been here, and if I would have talked to her than she would have made everything right.
I am embarrassed because I know that John is not usually like that. I know that he has been hurting everyday for a week with pain in his back and hips, but that is no excuse for being mean. I also know that he is not usually mean to anyone. However, I have to look at my own self too in this. I am not sure that I did anything to calm the situation down. Things are so much different in a small town. You have to see the people that perceive they have been treated badly by you. You have to associate with them, you have to serve them, and you have to get over the embarrassment of your own actions. In short, you have to let life move on.
I must admit if I am honest, that I am very ashamed of myself. I was not Christ-like in my behavior and I did not set a good example. I also know that I have the ability to calm John down when he gets really upset, and I did not take the time to do that. I was frustrated too and I am as guilty (or even more so) than he is over this incident. I chose to be angry instead of compassionate. I chose to be hard about something that is so trivial it doesn't even matter in the eternal scheme of things. In other words, I chose to be mean spirited.
There is an old saying that says, "When you choose the first step on the road, you also choose the last". I suspect that I chose the last step because I got angry on the first one.
So why am I writing things about myself that are downright embarrassing? I am hoping that you won't make the same mistakes. You see, being nice wouldn't have fixed the problem, but neither did being angry. The bill would still be there, but I wouldn't have to feel so bad about it. I think maybe that is what I need to learn from the experience. If you can't change what is happening, at least you don't have to be remembered for any negative actions on your part.
I would far rather that the first and last steps on this road would have been filled with kindness and love. I think that I need to be more conscious of my thoughts and reactions toward other people. If I can recognize the times that I could have chosen kindness over judgement, than I might just be able to make the changes in my life that I need to make.
I have a friend that was bit by a snake last year. He had to be flown from his small town to a hospital and then the anti-venom had to be flown in to the larger hospital because they did not have enough to give him what he needed. He had to be given that anti-venom as soon as possible, and even so he was very sick for quite a while. It was weeks before his leg was mostly normal again.
I think that unkind words and deeds act a lot like snakebites in our spiritual life. We need to take care that we aren't the cause of spiritual or emotional snakebites to those around us. In our culture today, the virtues of forgiveness and kindness are belittled, while anger, ridicule and criticism are encouraged. Think about how common road rage is today, or how common it is to go to a store and belittle a clerk for not having what is advertised.
People get so angry over the things that will only bring satisfaction for this moment. None of those things will be important tomorrow or the next day or even the day after that. Just like my friend with the bite, we must do everything in our power to neutralize the snakebites in our own lives. We must work constantly at removing ridicule, criticism, anger, rage, and unkindness that we exhibit toward others. It is not worth the cost of eternity to keep it around any longer. We have agreed, through baptism, to take upon ourselves the name of Christ. What are you doing with His name?
May you make better choices today than I did on Friday.
"I think [forgiveness] may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness. It is the great principle emphasized in all of scripture, both ancient and modern. Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way."
--Gordon B. Hinckley, "Forgiveness," Ensign, Nov. 2005, 81
"Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes."
--Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Virtue of Kindness", Liahona, May 2005, 26–28
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets". Matt. 7:12