Let me just put it out there; I've exercised this defence a few times in my life. "Oh, I thought your text said it started at 7:30 pm, not 7:00 pm!" Yeah, I wanted to be late, so I didn't get stuck doing something I knew I'd be called on to do.
I've even sent a text to the right wrong number cause I knew its contents was gonna get a reaction. I, too, have said some mean things with a smile that I knew was below the belt cause we all know how to plant seeds of doubt in a person about themselves and then pass it off as, "Girl, I was only joking!" But was I, though?
All fun and games, 'til it, ain't!
I have an older sister that used to be an avid prankster. She was all about practical jokes. I mean the ones that would cause you to leap from your skin, shrieking for Jesus till you're borderline calling His name in vain.
She was committed to the cause no matter what. If it required props, she was all about being in full regalia to set the stage—even if that meant mixing ketchup and kool-aid for realistic-looking blood in the perfect shade of red. Sis was a 'creative' before it was a coveted career. My good sister wasn't just outside the box; she took the box apart and invented a whole new one.
Anyway, one summer, my brother and I were doing what we did best, eating mangos until the stench was coming from our pores. This particular day, our neighbour joined us on our mango-picking expedition, followed by the 'who can make the best daiquiri' competition.
So there the three of us was, hauling a bucket of the succulent fruit. With haste, we got to washing and peeling mangos, sharing loon jokes—laughing at things I'd probably cringe at now. BRAM! A room door slams shut. Now we weren't super alarmed because, hey, this happens all the time, if it's windy. We continue to talk and laugh, and BRAM, the door slams again.
Now, wait just a minute. Come to think of it, it's about 90,000 degrees; what breeze is blowing this door. There are only four people that live in this house. Two of them aren't home, and the other two were standing next to each other, smelling like outside mixed with a hint of citrus.
I kid you not, my bother high tails out the side screen door, and our neighbour jumped headfirst out the living room window like he was about to dive off of the 32. ft springboard into the Olympic swimming pool. This scene was straight out of a low-budget Hollywood film, and we were the D-list actors demanding A-list payment.
Then there was me, the girl who was sure to die first in a horror movie because I stood in the middle of the kitchen screaming, like a banshee—paralyzed with fear. My brother, now on the outside, is screaming, "Run, Raquel, run!" At this point, I'm frantic, am talking, screaming near tears, and these dudes left the only girl to fend for herself. They were acting like Sweet Brown, "So I ran for my life!"
Finally, my feet became unstuck, and I ran through the side door, screaming, hands flailing about. I'll tell ya, that was a feeling of relief like no other. No joke, all that could be seen of my neighbour was his silhouette in mid-air 'cause this fellow was gone! We were on our own. It was official; he was the chap in the horror film who'd push his girl into the killer and then roll out!
Big bro and I made our way next door to call the police, who was there in what felt like seconds flat. During that time, tons of folks' houses in the neighbourhood were being burglarized, so they were on high alert. There we were, walking through the house behind the police, his gun drawn, searching every room and every closet. We get to the bathroom, and the door opens, and in unison, my brother and I shout my sister's name! But to her shock and awe was a drawn gun pointed at her chest. Save our quick reaction to her; it could have been lights out. Needless to say, I don't recall a prank ever sense.
She was known for her outrageous shenanigans—purposely jumping out of nowhere intending to scare the bejesus out of us! But there are folks in this life doing things accidentally on purpose, pretending that their actions are unintentional or for laughs and giggles. Kabuki (drama using exaggerated gestures) specialists, I call them. When you do something accidentally on purpose, you do it knowingly but make it seem as if it were random. Translation: Ya messy and need to repent!
Choking on a piece of meat is accidental. Tripping over a smushed-up rug may be beyond your control. I'd even give you rolling over a nail after getting brand-new tires—but you'll know, folks will look you dead in the eye and claim they didn't mean to step on your toes. And I mean that both literally and figuratively. Since everyone won't own it, we all know someone who has deliberately concocted a plot to hurt another.
You'll ain't gonna blame me for talking someone's business, so as always, let me take it to the universal source. Delilah, oh Delilah, a heffa, if there ever was one. Sis premeditated how she was gonna get a whole man killed! What makes it so bad is she was persistent, downright relentless. (Read Judges 16) I mean, it's no different today; we stay going back to toxic environments, I mean begging to be mishandled, subjecting ourselves to abuse in the name of material gain.
Then there was Judas, a real schmuck of mammoth proportions. The perfect example of how not to let the devil goosey (trick) you. Like what did Jesus ever do him? Nothing. (Read Luke 22) Well, neither did your coworker. But somehow, you are determined to make her life a living hell. All sis trying to do is feed her children! Why are you mad? Just 'cause she wears 'greatness' like skin. You, too, can be great if you put half that energy into minding the business that pays you.
King Herod, oh man, now he was a piece of work. Salty with a side of insecurity. Like who is jealous of a baby? So much so that he had all boys under the age of two killed. Sigh, if paranoid and cruel was a person. (Read Matthew 2:1-16) This is the perfect lesson why not to live vicariously through your children. Let them live, man, and by live, I mean to allow them to choose sometimes.
Pontius Pilate, a real punk, had the power to make the right choice and didn't. No, he acted like water could wash off the stench of doing Jesus dirty. (Read Matthew 27) If 'when you're powerful be merciful' was a movie. So no love, a bath is not going to make you feel better after you've dragged someone's name through the mud. All I'm saying is give the same measure of grace you expect.
We can't act like Cain ain't killed his mother's baby boy over some produce that was put on the fire and burned. Not anything that was there as a constant reminder every day. Nah, this man was mad at his brother for his own funky attitude. (Read Genesis 4:1-12) Are we really out here slandering people cause we feel other people gravitate more toward them than us? Whew, chall, messy!
Now Saul (pre-Paul) was on some next-level debauchery. I'm talking he was a certified savage. Like broski, where was your heart, where was your compassion? (in my Hon. Hubert Minnis voice) Homie was the ring leader of the original no-limit soldiers. Luckily for him, he was given an opportunity to turn it around. Touch your neighbour and say, "Today is a good day to stop doing dumbness!"
Come down from there, aye!
I'll tell you what humbles you real quick, though—life! Like Saul, many of us get knocked down. I mean blinded, so we can wake up and smell the coffee! I suppose it's God's way of slapping you upside the head saying, "Hey, hey, catch ya self!" Most of us need that every now and then. I suppose it's the teaching of how can you know 'joy' if you ain't never felt 'pain'? So till you activate a little kindness, then a tap-up is in order.
I remember how I used to take pleasure in making people feel small. In a previous blog, I mentioned how condescension was my weapon of choice. As such, life happened to me, and life happened through me. I'm not in denial that some of my worst moments were a matter of reaping what I sowed, but others were to bring out humility. We can easily get confused about which is which because sometimes punishment and pruning tend to look alike.
Let's get to the nitty-gritty, though, "Why are we mean in these streets, bleeding on people that didn't cut us?" I don't know why for you, but for me, it was deeply rooted in rejection. Long before the rejection of any man, I felt rejected about something that wasn't even rejection. Not because of anyone's intentionality, but accidentally. My biological mom was hit by a drunk driver when I was 2, and while I was adopted, my bonus mom then died at 7. You've got to be kidding me!
Don't get me wrong; this is no 'whoa is me' sob story. I didn't have a struggly life by the world's definition because my older sisters absolutely stepped up. All of their being there, though, could not answer my questions of "Why me? of What did I do to deserve this?" Never mind that as a teen, I'm sure I would have been the lead singer in the 'my mother getting on my nerve' choral. Still, all my unexplained emotions came out in very unkind ways, and I was making a mess on people because I didn't even know I was bleeding.
It's an old lesson, but it's worth saying again: "Treat people the way you want to be treated!" As it happens, lessons will be repeated until learned. You're gonna keep getting an 'F' on the test if you refuse to study. In other words, you're going to have to continue to experience difficulties, problems and frustrations, until you understand the assignment.
Don't be messy!
These days everyone is all about being intentional. That's all good and well, but ma'am, sir, that does not apply to your mistreatment of people. Why are you 35 and still being a bully? You can't keep blaming it on external factors. When you know better, you do better! Until you grasp that love, kindness, and a little compassion are needed, then it's round and round the garden for you.
The practical jokes at the expense of others are cute once or twice, but even my sister realized that it was time to put that away because that last time, it nearly cost her her life. Paul was on his way to put his savagery on 1000 and BAM; plans were interrupted. One thing is for sure: just because you smiled when you made snide remarks doesn't mean that you weren't serious about them. Believe me; people have gone to meet their maker over lesser things.
So while you are out there getting your knickers all in a bunch thinking that life isn't fair, I urge you first to stop, look and listen. I promise you it isn't that God is taking long; it's more than likely 'you' holding up the process. I'll leave this to simmer in your thoughts: The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)