On Saturday morning I was supposed to pick up our baby chicks from the lady I have always bought them from. For seven years I have gotten my chicks from her. Every spring I call, order what I want, put the pick up date on the calendar and, when it’s time, I go get them. This year…..I forgot. I didn’t show up on Saturday morning to get my chicks. I wasn’t feeling well, it was Patience’s birthday, some friends popped by unexpectedly and in the midst of it all I forgot the chickens. When I realized it later in the day I felt awful about it.
My chicken lady is very, um, shall we say, country. She is not like me and I like that about her. She is kind of rough around the edges and very, very straightforward.
I made my plan to be there first thing Monday morning to apologize and, hopefully, get my chicks. I have heard her be pretty hard on other customers, so I was praying that I could soften her by being humble and apologetic. My thought was that I would NOT offer any excuses. When people do that to me it feels like they are suggesting that their mess is worse than my mess and frankly, it’s self centered. I didn’t want to send that message, so I was just going to crawl with my tail between my legs, take whatever lashing she gave me and hope for the best.
I got there and was very timid. “I’m so sorry,” I said to her, “it is completely my fault. I understand if you sold my chicks to someone else. I am really, really sorry.”
She looked at me firmly and said, “Well, what happened?”
“Um, I forgot to come on Saturday and I am really sorry.”
“That’s not good enough. I want to know WHY you weren’t here. And if you don’t have a good excuse I will not sell chicks to you next year.”
Wow. That seemed a little extreme, but I just told her…..I was sick, we had a birthday, life got crazy and I forgot. I had no good excuse and I would completely understand if she didn’t want to work with me again.
She looked at me with harsh, tired eyes, “When people come in here after causing this kind of trouble and they don’t even try to explain, they just come in, get their order and act like it’s no big deal, it makes me crazy. It is SO RUDE!”
It struck me as interesting. My effort to be respectful and selfless was interpreted by her as rude and selfish.
There are so many Bible verses about fools running their mouths, that I wanted to use wisdom and not blabber on about why it happened and what my life is like and how tired I am, etc. It didn’t matter. I messed up. I was sorry.
Proverbs 18:7 “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
Her interpretation of my actions was different than what I was doing. How could I know?
We can’t see and feel what others are thinking.
To me the lesson is to give each other room to be ourselves. I will mess up. Maybe I will hurt your feelings. Certainly I will have selfish moments.
But let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Let’s give each other room to be flawed and to grow.
I did get my chicks. I apologized several more times. I didn’t try to defend myself. I didn’t mind letting her vent. I’m not the least bit upset or bothered about it.
It teaches me to be more understanding the next time someone inconveniences me. You just never know what is in the mind and heart of others.