Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hmph! (03/04/10)
TITLE: A Troubling Self Discovery
By Ruth Thoutenhoofd
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Moving later to the west coast, the trips through the Rockies took my breath away. The year-round green of lawn and evergreen, cherry trees blooming in March and lawns still needing mowing in November were a blessed change from long, cold prairie winters. And I’ve always felt grateful when people from other countries marvel at the expanse of this enormous country after describing their own cramped quarters and their problems with traffic. But I’ve never been what you would call patriotic in the sense that our American friends and close neighbours seem to mean the word.
We loved having the Olympics here and got a little crazy when we began to win some gold medals. It was fun. Hockey is a big thing here and we hate losing games to other countries, so when we actually ended up with a gold medal in “our” sport, the whole country sent a cheer up I’m sure the Americans next door could hear. Then it was over and we went back to normal.
I have family on both sides of the border. We’ve never compared countries except factually or in fun. So the day after the Olympics were over, I was shocked at the really mean things friends of a family member said about Canada on Facebook. I’m sure they didn’t realise Canadians were going to read the remarks and I don’t know the people who commented, so I don’t know their experiences or reasons for being rude. That isn’t the point of this article. What scared me and surprised me was my reaction.
My emotions went quickly from disgruntled to angry. All day long, I thought up mean and rude things to say back. Thankfully I didn’t write any of them down, because I’ve learned from experience the regret that can come from putting into print things felt in the heat of negative emotions. But God spoke to me loudly and clearly about what I discovered was still hidden in my heart after nearly forty years of walking with him. Sarcasm, the need to retaliate, the desire to embarrass and get the last word, and the deep desire to use my words to wither the spirit of unknown people all shocked me. The hurtful words hadn’t even been aimed at me or at anyone I love! The people who wrote them don’t know I exist.
I thought I had changed from the sarcastic young woman who met the Lord all those years ago. But I realised anew that it is only the Holy Spirit within me that can give me the grace to accept criticism and not retaliate. It is only God himself who can shine through me and love the unlovely. I have not really changed. If I react so negatively to something as small as trash talk about the country I live in, what might I do when my loved ones are harshly criticised or abused?
I pray for the Holy Spirit to truly change the inner me! I pray for more grace, for my first reaction to be one of love and understanding, no matter what the circumstance. And I’m so thankful that he taught me this lesson in circumstances as silly and innocuous as these, not in something that really mattered!
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