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On the Heart

I was at the grocery store yesterday, ya know, doing all the things on my day off that I don’t have time to do during the week.  I had my purse in the cart behind me and my body and face toward the freezer in front of me.  Previously having grabbed my phone out of my purse to look up a recipe, I had replaced my phone and failed to rezip.  So there I am, deeply immersed in   the very important task of choosing which ice cream was going to bring my heart joy with my open purse in the cart,  valuables exposed to the world.   I lingered.  It was a big decision. 

Double cookie crunch chosen, I turned around and came face to face with a woman I didn’t know who was unapologetically  staring me down offering unmistakable reproof.  

“Oh, I’m so sorry, am I in your way?”  

“No.”  She stated, her voice edgy.  “I’m going to speak to you though.”  

“Okaaaaaay…..”  Eyebrows furrowed, my voice, uncertain and cautious. This was weird.  Her tone was  aggressive.  I didn’t quite know how to react.  I started to feel myself going into fight or flight mode.  

She went on; “I stood here for a good two minutes staring at your purse.  If I had wanted to, I could have just grabbed your phone, grabbed your wallet.  I could have been gone before you turned around and you wouldn’t even have noticed.”  

“Were you tempted?” I asked.   Still not sure where this was going or quite what her motive was.  Did she need prayer?  Counsel?  

“No!” she stated vehemently.  “You need to be smarter about your stuff!  You need to lock in your purse!”  She then grabbed the little straps on the seat part of the cart intended to hold in little ones…at least that’s what I always thought they were for…and with greatenthusiasm  strapped them around the handles of my purse so that no one could easily grab it out of my cart and run with it. Almost as if she was dealing with a toddler who she had told to do something a million times and now was demonstrating the task with frustration.  Finally, to drive  her point home, she grabbed the handles and gave a good couple of pulls to demonstrate the effectiveness of her makeshift technique..  

She looked at me.  I looked at her.  Still taken aback by the whole situation I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I didn’t really care for her tone. If she had actually known me she would know that I’m kind of sensitive and no matter what you are saying,  how you speak to me matters.   I was a little embarrassed that she was publicly chastising me.  Who the heck WAS this woman anyways?!  

She’s right.  

That still, small voice.  

Clear as clear could be, I heard it within. As is too often the case but this time appropriate, the words I heard in my heart came out of my mouth before I had time to think it through 

“You’re right,”  I heard myself say humbly.  “Thank you.”  

She nodded once emphatically, curtly said “you’re welcome”  and walked away.  I stood there processing.  

Proverbs 27:6 came to mind...

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." 

On this day, in this situation, this very forward woman that I didn’t  know had been a friend to me.  She cared enough to take her time and energy to admonish me about something that was for my benefit.  I mean, she stood for TWO  minutes staring at my vulnerable valuables waiting for me to turn around just so she could give me an object lesson.   She didn’t have to do that.  She wasn’t unkind in her presentation…a little blunt and passionate maybe but hey…look who’s talking.  

Since that encounter I’ve spent much time thinking of the friends in my life who have loved me enough to wound me, admonish me, rebuke me and call me out…for my good.  The ones that have cared enough to take their time and energy and have invested it in me because they love me and saw something in my life that would ultimately lead to more pain than the hearing of the truths that they had to share. 

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 

This friend, my friend, is your friend….Jesus.  

It often takes courage to speak the truth in love, especially when you know that the truth that you have to offer has the potential to wound the heart of the one with whom you share it.   

I’m thankful that when Jesus speaks hard truths to me, which He so often does, it’s always with gentleness, grace and compassion.  He loves me, and you, so very much, that He is willing to wound our hearts with truth for the greater purpose of growing us up and helping us to look more like Him.  

If we run to Him rather than hide from Him as our response to these hard truths,  He holds us close and envelopes us with His peace until the sting dissipates.  Equipped then to move forward in a way that will propel us toward health rather than hurt.  To look more like Him.  

I’m thankful for this painful process.

I’m thankful for my friends who look like Jesus in this way.  

I’m thankful for the grumpy lady in the grocery store.  

I’m thankful for my double cookie ice cream.  

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace the truth that wounds rather than become defensive.  Remember that it is for your good and move forward mindful of its purpose.  Allow yourself to be lavishly loved by the One who loves you too much to let you sit in your stink and so much that He never stops investing in you for your good.

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