I don’t love shopping.
But I have two friends who are blessed with the spiritual gift of shopping and they offered to help me find a mother-of-the-groom dress for our son’s August wedding.
They are so committed they even went pre-shopping and sent me on an assignment to try two dresses they had scoped out. In I went.
The salesperson greeted me warmly and asked what I was looking for. I launched into my explanation of those who had come before and she interrupted saying, “I know who you are. Your friends came in looking for a dress for you. They were worried about your gray hair and said your skin is very pale.”
Seriously, why would my friends say that?
Thankfully, God has taught me a few things about these kinds of situations.
I can’t control which thoughts and feelings first come to mind. They are there before I have time to blink... or think… and are often rooted in deeply held beliefs or fears.
Here’s a sample of my head-space within three seconds of the clerk’s declaration.
What’s wrong with my hair? Of course I’m pale - it’s winter! This woman is really rude!
And then…It really doesn’t sound like my friends to have said those things. I wonder what they really said? Followed by… I want out of this store.
It’s in moments like these where conflict can take root. Will I believe the words of a stranger and harbor hurt? Or, will I check it out with these long-term friends and ask what they really said?
I asked them and there was a reasonable explanation. The wedding colors are soft, but I look more vibrant in bold. How would they find something that could satisfy both categories? Nothing malicious. In fact, they had my best interest at heart.
Perhaps the most important reminder for me is the importance of being slow to take offense. If I choose to hop on the hurt train, chemicals in my body kick into fight or flight mode rendering me less able to think clearly and choose wisely.
In contrast, if I take a breath and ask myself even one clarifying question such as, “What’s really going on here?” I can often see other perspectives and not take the situation personally. I find that having these brief meetings with myself can prevent unnecessary pain and strife in relationships. It makes for more amiable shopping trips, too.
And yes, we found a dress.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst