When I recall my reaction to receiving this information, it still stings. I shot the messenger.
"You're kidding," I protested. "It's just a school picture." The girl at the counter nodded, explaining that there's a form. . . "I'm not doing that," I told her, cutting her off. She nodded again, and shrugged.
What is the matter with me? I wondered as I walked away.
"It's not her fault," I said, reporting the incident to Jack. "I feel angry with myself, and sad, that I reacted to her that way."
While we were paying for some other things at the checkout near the front door, I glanced back at the photo counter a couple of times, half wanting to go back and apologize. And I would have, only there was a dilemma. Two girls were standing back there, and I didn't know which one I'd spoken with!
What I realize is:
1. I don't like being told "no"--not even in the nicest possible way. (She was just giving me information, correct? And doing her job--very well, too!)
I'm sure you're totally surprised by this.
2. When I hear the word "no" my first impulse is to argue it. Pretty much every time, and especially on short notice. I dig my proverbial heels in, and, internally, I immediately move rapid-fire through my options. I'm thinking, Ha! I can outsmart you. I will just find a way around this.
This appears to be a direct shortcut to:
3. When someone tells me "no" I can go to the farthest place possible away from my own heart--to that place where I'm not even aware of the other person. It happens in a flash. (Seriously? Three minutes later, I cannot even recognize her?)
This may actually be the worst part.
No. . . the worst part is, Jack and I had stopped at Walgreens on our way home from church.
Not a half hour before, I heard this:
Love is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over (perceived) injury. (Except perhaps at Walgreens?)
And, you can push all the spiritual practices you like, but if you can't love the girl at the Walgreens photo counter, you are sunk! (my translation)
And this is the key to compassion, not only for the person at the photo counter, but also for myself. It's so much better than beating myself up.
Self knowledge with compassion can lead to change. Sometimes that's messy, and sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's ugly. And it always takes time, but I'm willing to do the work. Because there's the person I am, and the person I don't want to be, and I truly know the difference.
BTW, you'll find fabulous links to some of my favorite blogs and websites here: