The Sleeping Bear

One morning this week I was standing in line at the post office to mail some packages for work.  It was early; the post office had just opened for the day. There was only one person working the counter. I was the second person in line when another lady arrived behind me. I could sense from the moment she walked through the door that she was eager to get out as quickly as possible. Her demeanor said, “I don’t have time to wait.” She complained several times about there only being one person working the counter.  And, as she did, a battle rose up inside me.  

I hate lines and most of the time I might appear patient on the outside but on the inside I’m usually just a fidgety and prone to negativity as the lady behind me. I just do a better job of hiding it...especially on the mornings when all the packages I’m mailing have a church name and return address written on the outside of the package.  D’oh!  When you’re doing God’s work you can’t be outwardly impatient and annoyed, right?  😉 

So, when it was my turn to approach the counter I motioned to the anxious lady behind me.  “You can go ahead of me.”

“Are you sure?” She asked.

“Yes, no problem.” I answered.

The more I thought about my gesture, the more I realized it didn’t stem from a place of kindness. Instead, it originated from a place of frustration and impatience too…just like this lady.

The truth?  I saw too much of my irritated-self oozing out of this lady. Observing her was like putting a mirror up to my heart. I didn’t like the way she was acting. I was annoyed by her comments. When I let her go ahead of me with a smile on my face it was simply because I wanted her to be quiet and go away.

Listening to this lady complain was too much like listening to me complain…maybe not audibly…but definitely on the inside. Her impatience was rousing that sleeping bear inside of me. The one I try to keep in hibernation mode.  But the thing is, just because the bear sleeps doesn’t mean the bear isn’t there. And, sometimes, it takes standing in line at the post office to remember that.

I read a couple of verses this week that reminded that the motives of our hearts need to be examined on a regular basis.  When we do something “kind” it doesn’t necessarily mean our hearts are kind and pure. When we do something without complaining or with a smile plastered on our faces it doesn’t mean that our hearts are doing joyful somersaults.  Sometimes, we just become experts at keeping that bear from stirring.

All a man’s ways seem right to him,
but the Lord evaluates the motives. Proverbs 21:2

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean. Matthew 23: 25-26

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