Yesterday I went to the post office to mail something that would require several steps and a little time. I went mid-morning, thinking maybe the line would not be so bad. There were just six (!) in front of me and it seemed to be moving along. In front of me was an adorable three-year-old and we became fast friends. Her name was Olivia. She asked me my name and when I told her, she then asked why. That stumped me. She found a mailing adhesive strip on the floor and stuck and unstuck it to all the cabinets. Then she made a bracelet out of it. She gave a piece to me and I made a ring. We laughed at each other and before we knew it, she was leaving and it was my turn at the counter.
There was only one man working at the four-station counter and he could not have been nicer, faster, or more patient. His attention to detail and pleasant demeanor focused on me and seemed to not see the line forming behind me, the feet shifting, eyes rolling, and the body language that was screaming, "Hurry up!" Step by step, we finished. As I turned to leave and saw the 10-12 people waiting, I simply said to them in general, "I am sorry I took so long" and walked out. One man glared angrily at me and shook his head. I later saw him in the grocery and he avoided my line, barging in front of another next to me. There was no way he was going to be delayed twice in one day - by the same woman.
Anger. It spills out in places we don't expect. It transfers to situations that have nothing to do with the source. It even hides and waits to be resurrected. Sometimes it stays buried for years, only to fester and erupt at the wrong time and place. I was reading the verse in Acts that says, "I strive to keep my conscience clear." Thinking on those words, and asking God to show me what I needed to confess, He quickly reminded me that I had my own anger buried down deep in the bottom of my heart over the loss of my daughter - almost two years ago.
I was surprised. Caught off guard a bit. And so in my defense, I reminded God of what I had tried to do for Him through her illness. I had tried to be obedient. I read scripture. I had claimed God's promises. I had shared the story with the world. But as I defended my case, the truth came bubbling up and I began to see the real truth - that down in my heart, I held anger and resentment at God for not healing her. I felt great loss and despair of a frightening nature. I stopped in my tracks and confessed out loud to God, "I see it now. You are right - forgive me."
Then God said to me, "Through your obedience, your wrote truth. You shared what a life of faith looks like when you are blinded by despair. I, alone, kept you from acknowledging your own anger at me because it would have stopped you from writing. It would have sent you running into a cave. You are a such a little human, but I love you. The life Megan lived, she lived for me, not you, and I wanted this story told for my purposes. But you have to get rid of the anger or you will never have peace about it."
Peace is something we all desire, whether standing in a post office line, or the grocery story, or in the deepest part of our heart. We long for it - or at least we want to "just give it a chance" as John Lennon sang. We pray for it. We sing, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." But how do we find it? We ask for clarification from God above. We brace ourselves and ask Him to reveal whatever it is in our conscience that we are afraid to admit. But watch out. When He reveals it, we must obey or we will wrestle with it and our anger will show in all the wrong places.
I want to be like little Olivia - just three years old and content to take what had been thrown on the floor and make something out of it. Peace. She was content to wait in line for something too complicated for her. Peace. She trusted her caregiver. Peace. She looked around and smiled at the world, waiting and trusting as the day unfolded. Peace. Isaiah 11:6 says "A little child shall lead them."
Thank you, Olivia.