Poor guy. The drink machines weren’t working which meant that his customers were thirsty. Once the line went down I politely, quietly went up to the counter to ask if he could fill my cup with some water from the tap. “The drink machine is broken!” he barked. I felt my eyes widen and my head jerk back a little and then I kindly nodded with understanding. I silently turned and made my way back to my seat.
“Geez. He doesn’t have to be so rude,” I thought to myself. But then I remembered what a stupid rough morning it must have been for him. I mean, being a manager of a restaurant with a broken drink machine has to come with some level of stress. First-world problems. So I just prayed for him.
A couple of minutes passed and then he came to my table. “I’m sorry, it’s just that we only have tap water and it’s not cold,” he said with regret in his voice. “Don’t worry about it. Really. It’s no big deal,” I assured him. He held up his index finger as if to say “give me a second,” and then he rushed around the counter. I saw him grab a bottled water from what looked like the staff refrigerator. “Here,” he said, “I insist. It’s the least I can do.” I took it with a thank you and then he got back to work. Humbled.
That could have turned out completely different. I could have mouthed back. I wanted to mouth back. I could have jumped over the counter and…done…something. I’m such a trouble-maker. Not really. I could have entered into his bad day and taken on his bad attitude changing the whole course of my good morning. Thankfully, I didn’t.
But I do. When it’s someone close to me — like…my kids — I can get offended. I can enter into their bad day and take on their bad attitude and change the whole course of my good morning. Why do I do that?!
It’s so much better when, by God’s absolute grace and only through His Spirit’s empowering, I leave a buffer between me and someone else’s bad day. When I look at things from a less defensive approach — praying rather than talking back, speaking blessing rather than cursing — the results are beauty rather than tornado-ish, relational destruction.
We all have bad days. But instead of taking on someone else’s bad day, we get a choice. We get to choose our response.
I can’t do it on my own. He’s gracious to indwell us. I don’t always do it well. He’s gracious to forgive us. But if I’ve spent time communing with God and meditating on true things, I’m much more apt to intercede. When I’ve allowed Him to fill me full of Himself, I’m much less needy for others to give me security.
A beautiful prayer that Paul prayed for others:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
It’s going to happen because it’s Thursday, and we live on this planet. Someone around us will struggle against their heart or their circumstance in search of true joy. But we get to choose our response. We can choose to help them rather than drag them further down. We can choose to stand in the gap, praying to the only One who’s able to heal-hearts and change perspectives.
It’s our choice, today.
Fill me, Lord…
What helpful things do you do when face-to-face with someone else’s bad day?