“The eye drops are three hundred dollars. I don’t see that they’re covered,” the clerk says.
And I snap.
I’m frazzled and frayed and my tone goes sharp. I know it is not the clerk’s fault, but I’ve found the end of my rope.
In this moment, I don’t care.
It’s been a long morning. Waiting on the phone. At the doctor’s office. Now here. I could’ve predicted this problem, too. In the end, I decide it’s best to go home while the pharmacy contacts the insurance company. It means another trip into town, but we leave the store – my scarlet-eyed son and me.
It takes about a quarter of a mile for the conviction to come. I’d been rude. Short-tempered. Sharp. I try to justify my attitude, but it doesn’t settle on my soul. And later in the afternoon, it all makes perfect sense.
My youngest sons and I sit on the back patio. The afternoon sun scorches and my boys have popsicles we’ve made from raspberry lemonade. The popsicles melt fast – quick rivers down their forearms and watercolor drops that hit the red bricks under our feet.
And as we sit together, the pharmacy scene comes to heart. As we sit, it moves through my mind. Even though my boy still looks like the tough end of a fight, I know I’ve been wrong.
My reaction was sandpaper on the soul.
Far, far from refreshment.
A printed piece by Chuck Swindoll hangs by a magnet on our fridge, and I think of it now. The pink copy paper has faded to pastel. The edges are torn. A preschooler added art work – an army of stick-figure men. But the words are still powerful. The last two lines of “Attitude” flow with my pulse:
“The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” – Chuck Swindoll
Truth. Sweet truth.
Every tough circumstance offers an opportunity to respond in a way that brings refreshment.
When I go to pick up my son’s meds, I look for the clerk. It’s late and she’s left for the day. But another trip into town brings another opportunity, and one afternoon I see her standing behind the counter. I know what I need to do. The apology brings tears, for her and for me. But she unlatches the gate, moves to the other side of the counter, and wraps her arms around me. We stay for a moment, holding on tight. We’re suddenly stranger-sisters brought together in a moment of real-life, heart-and-soul grace.
When I leave, I know I’ve left behind a trace of Jesus. Today my attitude has bought refreshment to another’s soul.
And because God’s mercy cup simply overflows, her reaction brought refreshment to mine.