Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rear-Ended in the Twilight Zone

--
BUMP.

She So Sweet and I looked at each other in surprise.

BUMP again!

The car behind us in the drive-thru had bumped into us, not once, but twice! After a restaurant employee took this picture of the contact between the two cars, I pulled up a few feet so I could get out and take a look. Nothing in all my life prepared me for finding myself suddenly on the dark side of the Twilight Zone.

While I inspected my car, the other driver had gotten out of her car.  She was 50-ish with hair dyed an unnatural shade, wearing ordinary casual clothes, but what really struck me was her hollow, world-weary expression and the hardness in her eyes. I guess I thought she might apologize, or explain what happened, or feel embarassed--any number of responses could have been appropriate. Instead she indignantly and agressively questioned me about why I would even look for damage when she "was only going 0-5 mph!"

What?!!!

I quietly explained that I just needed to make sure before we left the scene, and reminded her that SHE had hit ME (twice), not the other way around, which was how she was acting. I took one last glance and turned to get back in my car while the woman continued to rail and protest. She So Sweet saw how irrational this woman was and she said sincerely to her, "I'll be praying for you. I hope you have a nice day." (Such Image-bearing!) At that, irrational went into overdrive and the woman's expression twisted into a mask of mocking rage. She spat an uncomplimentary remark toward She So Sweet, and then turned her wrath toward insulting me with mean-spirited, hateful words intended to gouge pieces out of me.

My daughter and I got in the car and drove to the other side of the restaurant so I could get the picture the employee had taken.  We thought the woman had left, but instead she drove around and back into the parking lot where we were standing. She got out and continued her tirade, spewing more of her disparaging opinions of the many things she thought were wrong with me.

I really wasn't sure what else she might be capable of, so I got in my car, and with her still yelling and even pounding on my window, I drove away, adrenaline roaring through me, heart hammering like a war drum in my chest. All I knew was that I needed to get my daughter away from this ugliness and potential danger!

At the time, I wasn't even concerned about myself—I grew up in the "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" era, and I wasn't about to give an old-enough-to-know-better bully ANY power over me. However, my darling daughter, ferocious little wildcat that she can be, was infuriated and upset on my behalf. She said through her angry tears,

"MOM! NONE OF THOSE THINGS SHE SAID ABOUT YOU ARE TRUE!!!"

My sweet, loving and fiercely loyal little girl!

When my pulse returned to normal, it was easier to hear the replay in my head. Now that it was all over I had a chance to reflect on those insults She So Sweet promised me weren't true. Even at the very worst of my most difficult days in junior high with the obligatory "mean girls," no one ever talked to me like this troubled woman did.

No one has ever said such harsh, demeaning, hurtful and vicious things to me . . .

. . . except me.

WOW.

I am my own mean girl!

The mean girl without and the mean girl within--neither one authorized to say such ugly things to anyone, not even herself. I have never been the mean girl without (saying awful things to other people), but it is high time for me to quit being the mean girl within (saying awful things to myself). I didn't see it coming, but I got rear-ended by a convicting truth.

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."

I do NOT have the right to talk to any Image-bearer the way I talk to myself. I'm not even sure how to quantify or qualify the ways it must affect me to have this internal harangue going on, but I am completely sure it has to stop lest the things I say to myself become self-fulfilling.

I am a little surprised to find how thankful I am for my trip to the Twilight Zone and the way it shifted my perspective on my own behavior. Rod Serling was always good at writing stories like that--God is even better at it!


Do you ever suffer at the hands of a mean girl within?
Have you ever learned a powerful lesson from an unexpected teacher?
_______________________________________

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