TITLE: Minnie Moved On
By Cheri Hardaway
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Minnie Moved On
By Cheri Hardaway © 2005
“Girls, there is Miss Minnie!” I hissed at my daughters. I had been peacefully waiting my turn at the deli counter in Wal-Mart when I spotted her.
A mouth full of cotton, my heart thudding wildly in my chest, I felt my stomach tighten as my breathing grew quick and shallow. Peace gone, my senses were heightened and combat-ready as I considered my options – I could go up and say hello, or I could run and hide. Pushing down the panic that pulsed through my veins, along with the adrenalin preparing me to fight or flee, I tried to decide. Lord? What to do?
Eighteen months, I quickly calculated, stunned. Had it really been that long? Minnie and I had attended the same church for several years, becoming quite close. Going in a new direction with the Lord, hubby and I had to make a painful decision to change churches. Though Minnie and I had talked of maintaining our relationship, our one attempt at conversation after leaving had fallen sadly flat. Basically, we had not seen one another since then.
What were those options again – say hi or hide? Finished reminiscing, cowardice won over courtesy. Not ready for an awkward reunion, I scurried clear across the store, from the deli department to the garden section. After all, she hadn’t seen me yet!
Meandering amidst fertilizer and flowers, I found some time for reflection. First, it should be known that the name is an alias, arbitrarily chosen by me to guard Minnie’s privacy. Second, I had not planned to trash our friendship. It had just happened. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months – eighteen, to be exact – and I just didn’t know what I could say after all that time had passed. I had emotionally moved on, but I carried a tremendous sense of guilt for not having tried harder to salvage our relationship. Was she still terribly hurt? Even crushed?
For some time, I had feared this encounter, even dreaming about it. Living in a small community, it was impossible not to run into friends and acquaintances. Not knowing what to expect if we met unexpectedly, along with a healthy phobia of confrontation, had me looking over my shoulder everywhere I went these days. I caught myself scanning parking lots for her car, and I developed eyes in the back of my head, hoping not to be caught off guard.
Regaining my composure after the "great escape," I continued to wander in the garden section. I worked at ignoring the still, small voice of my conscience, convincing myself this choice had been best; both of us would be too uncomfortable with a face-to-face meeting after all this time. Dawdling as long as possible, I eventually sent the girls on a reconnaissance mission.
“The coast is all clear, Mom. She’s in the checkout line,” the girls reported to their “fearless” leader.
“Great, now I can finish shopping and get out of here,” I breathed, relieved. On the trek back across the store, I saw Minnie at the checkout. She still hadn’t seen me. Good, all was well. No harm done.
In a hurry to finish after the garden department delay, I postponed the deli stop and zoomed from aisle to aisle like a pro. Luckily, I had had only a few more items to pick up when I had spied Minnie. Finally reaching the frozen foods, always my last stop, I careened around the corner, almost colliding with a cartless pedestrian coming from the rear of the store. Oh my! It couldn’t be, but it was – yes, it was Minnie.
“Well, hi,” I stammered, “I haven’t seen you in ages.”
“I know,” she smiled. “Sorry I can’t visit. My cart’s at the checkout. I had to grab something I forgot.” And she was gone.
Standing there alone, blushing and sheepish, I felt the pride leaking from my self-inflated ego. Ouch! It was a painful, but well-deserved reality check.
I had emotionally moved on; why would I think Minnie had not done the same? Pure pride had convinced me that Minnie was still paralyzed by our parting. True, we both could have tried harder to fight for our friendship, but that was then and this was now. My personal mission had been one of avoidance, while God’s had been one of character cultivation. My fear had indeed materialized; I had certainly run into Minnie – almost literally! The near collision left this truth reverberating in my mind: “For I say...to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think...” – Romans 12:3, NKJV.
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