Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2021

I watched, as our salesperson went to ask a male colleague a question on our behalf. We were making an important purchase—a new car—and had several queries.

‘No, that’s wrong!’ her male colleague said loudly, frowning. ‘Don’t you remember? You take this amount off!’

I felt sorry for our salesperson and, when she returned, pretended I had not heard anything.

Soon after, she decided to doublecheck something else, this time with her senior manager. A moment later, he strode across to us and took over from her.

‘I’m not sure where she was up to,’ he told us with a disapproving expression, as he looked at the paperwork on the desk. ‘I thought she would have explained all this to you already.’

I did not warm to his slick, arrogant tone and again felt sorry for our salesperson who had done her best. As he talked, she stood in the background—although I wondered if she might have preferred to be invisible instead.

Somehow, I was sure I detected some blatant sexism in all this. Our salesperson had been doing well—and I felt her male colleagues had put her down in a very public way.

Yet the previous day, I thought I had noticed some hints of a different sort of ‘ism’ in this same salesperson’s response, when we told her we wanted to go away and think about our options.

‘That’s okay,’ she told us. ‘But don’t leave it too long, otherwise you’re likely to forget all the things I’ve told you today!’

Was I supersensitive? Quite possibly! Yet this wasn’t the only whiff of ageism I sensed while ordering our new car. When it came to paying our deposit, we were ushered into a different office.

‘Are you comfortable with transferring money online or would you prefer to pay by bank cheque?’ the girl there asked us politely, unaware how condescending she sounded.

My husband smiled and told her that transferring money online would be fine, thank you. I felt like adding something like ‘despite how elderly and decrepit we might look’, but managed to refrain just in time.

We can all tend to judge others so easily—just as I may have already done in this post! We like putting people in boxes. We so often assume all elderly people lack certain abilities. Some of us assume women are too illogical and featherbrained for this or that role. And some of us assume so much too about people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We may not mean our comments to sound patronising or judgmental—quite the opposite, in fact. Yet, maybe taking a little more thought and care at times before blurting things out would be so much more helpful.

I keep thinking of Jesus’ own stern words too about judging others:

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.  Matthew 7:1-3 The Message

Hmm. I hope we can soon become blind more often to those smudges on others’ faces. After all, God has looked past the smudges on our own—and still does.

Read Full Post »

On this particular Monday morning, I did not feel like grocery shopping. Still, it had to be done, so off I went. I scooted around the supermarket in record time and headed for the nearest checkout. Then I noticed the worker there was a lady with whom I had previously had a conversation about my books. On that occasion, she had asked me what I wrote about, but someone had interrupted and there had been no time to answer her. I had left the store that day feeling rather frustrated—would I ever get another opportunity to talk with her? Yet there she was now, about to serve me again—but I felt too tired and grumpy to connect with her. Perhaps she had forgotten all about that question she had asked me anyway.

Imagine my surprise then when the first thing she said was, ‘So … are you still writing?’

My heart sank. I did not want to talk about writing—or anything serious, for that matter. Yet I was touched she had not forgotten our previous conversation.

‘Wow, I’m amazed you remembered I’m a writer,’ I managed to say. ‘Yes, I’m still writing—and speaking. I’m speaking at a club this week, but I’ve also spoken at quite a few churches.’

‘Oh … what sort of things do you write about?’

At that point, I decided to opt for a relatively safe response.

‘Well, my novels focus on different serious issues we all face in our lives sometime or other, such as forgiveness or grief or dealing with life’s challenges … lots of things like that.’

‘Wow—I must check your books out online.’

By this time, I was wider awake—and praying hard!

‘Um, I have a card here,’ I told her, as I fished around in my purse.

She finished packing my groceries and I paid her. For a moment, it seemed she had moved onto the next customer, but she turned to me again.

‘So, where’s your card? Thanks so much. Have a good week!’

I left, feeling somewhat stunned but also a little ashamed of myself. God had given me a wonderful, unexpected, second opportunity to connect with this lady, yet I had not wanted to engage with her at all. Instead, I had wallowed in my tiredness and grumpiness and it had not even entered my head to consider what God might want me to say. Then the Apostle Peter’s words came to mind:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. … 1 Peter 3:15

I had not been prepared. I felt I could have been much more open. I should have mentioned other themes in my novels like the love and grace of God, but now the moment was gone. Yet, in the midst of all these whirling thoughts, I sensed God’s amazing grace and acceptance pour over me. And as I drove home, I prayed. Lord, please may she look up my website and see why I write and what I write about. And please may we have an even better conversation soon.

I’m so grateful God understands. And I’m so grateful God uses us even in our weakness in ways we may least expect.

Read Full Post »

One day recently, in the middle of writing, I thought of something I needed to do in the kitchen. Yet there was one slight problem. After heading there, I could not remember what that ‘something’ was! Feeling distinctly foolish, I returned to my writing, hoping enlightenment would soon come.

Not long after, my husband charged into my study to tell me two things. He remembered the first, but the second eluded him completely. Later that day, however, he informed me he had remembered what that second thing was—but had forgotten it again! Oh dear.

A day or so later, that pesky piece of information he had forgotten twice finally surfaced. This time, he remembered it long enough to relay it to me—although whether it was worth the effort is another matter, since I cannot now recall what it was!

This phenomenon of forgetting things has nothing to do with old age, of course. My personal excuse is that I have so many writing ideas in my head there is very little room for other pieces of information, particularly mundane ones. That is why I take great care in recording the various details for my speaking engagements on my laptop—and in my paper diary. After all, I do need to remember such things as what topic I have been asked to speak on, what time I need to arrive, where I am able to park and other necessary bits and pieces of information. This helps counteract the feeling of dread I occasionally experience of one day turning up at the wrong venue or at the wrong time or even on the wrong day!

I think God understands how good we are at forgetting, don’t you? In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites various feasts and rituals which enabled them to reflect together on God’s goodness and remember how God wanted them to live. Even then, God often had to encourage them, via strong words from their leaders, to remember where they had come from and who had saved them.

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. Deuteronomy 24:18

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced … 1 Chronicles 16:12, Psalm 105:5

You have forgotten God your Saviour; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Isaiah 17:10

We cannot judge them, however, because how quickly we too can forget what God has done for us! I for one know how easily I can slip over into thinking I am in charge of my own life and fail to remember who I belong to. No wonder Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper for his disciples—and for us—as one tangible way at least of remembering him.  

This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. … This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians j11:24-25

We may forget many things, but let’s never forget the Lord. Let’s remember his amazing love and grace and mercy towards us—and be so thankful.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits … Psalm 103:1-2

Read Full Post »