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Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)
TITLE: Just for Today, God
By Mary Elder-Criss
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Every errand I attempt to run is foiled by road construction. Obviously, the Mayor was aware of the fact that I had procrastinated taking care of them all, and decided to teach me a lesson. All the asphalt companies in a tri-county area have, upon her authorization, been sent out to repave every main thoroughfare and side street in my hometown today. She evidently also knew that it would be the one day this week that neither of my children could look at each other even slightly cross-eyed without a major battle erupting. Jackhammers, my teenager’s hip-hop music and my younger daughter’s cries of “Mom! Emily looked at me!” all compete with each other to see which will make me reach for the Excedrin Migraine tucked in my purse first.
The grocery store that is featuring the “buy one, get one free” sale is either sold out of all the specials, or only has the “buy one” left. The “free ones” are nowhere to be found. The shopping cart has only three operating wheels, making it impossible to corner well. I must raise the front of the buggy entirely off the floor, and wrench the entire cart around each corner with considerable force in order to make it down the next aisle.
There, I will invariably find it blocked by two elderly women discussing their gall bladder surgery, and three children playing kickball with a watermelon, while their mother disinterestedly continues her twenty-minute conversation on her cell phone. Perhaps she is on hold with my insurance company. To make the whole shopping experience worthy of remembrance, the gum-popping clerk gives me back incorrect change, and the bag boy squashes my bread.
I trundle out to the parking lot, and my eight year-old daughter steps on the back of my flip flop for the nine hundredth time that day, wrenching it painfully up between my toes. In a fit of perfectly understandable, humanistic fleshly rage, I cry out to God, asking His permission to break the rules, just for today.
“Just for today, God, could I not have beeped my horn at all the slow moving traffic whose drivers obviously couldn’t read a road sign clearly if their life depended on it?”
“Just for today, Lord, could I not have told the store manager that his inventory planning skills left much to be desired, and that there should NEVER be just the “buy one” item left, without the “free one” to accompany it?”
“Just for today, God, could I not have interrupted the grandmother’s gall bladder horror stories, or the cell phone toting mother, and asked them to move OUT of my way, or told the gum-popping cashier how annoying that habit truly is, or reminded the bag boy that it was NOT a good idea to set a two liter of soda on TOP of a loaf of bread?”
“Just for today, God….could I not give into the desires of my flesh, and pretend that I didn’t know that I should exercise patience and humility? Just one day, Lord, could you put your Holy Ghost earplugs on, and pretend to look the other way? Would you allow me Lord, just one day, to react how I long to react, and not feel guilty? Just for today?”
Gritting my teeth against the pain in my foot, I turn, sharp words upon my lips to reprimand my daughter, and see the look of apprehension upon her face. Feeling the Holy Spirit tug at my heart, I bite my tongue and force it to shape words of compassion instead of words of rebuke.
“It’s okay, Erin, I know you didn’t mean to do it,” I comfort her tears away.
Sighing at God’s answer to my plea, I instead make a new request.
“Just for today, God, could you help me not to break the rules?”