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getting to the heart of the matter…

I walked into the store the other day to pick up something for dinner. I was on my way home and just decided to stop in and grab something. I have to be choosy now, with type 2 diabetes what I eat and how much. Of course, no sugar, no rice, no potatoes no , no, no…

As I walked through the produce department, I was trying to decide if it would be head lettuce or Spring mix, when; out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman picking up heads of lettuce and then throwing them down…hard! “Bad Day!” I thought. I continued selecting cucumbers and other greens and again this woman was picking up packages of celery and looking at one and then throwing it down and picking up another.

The force with which she was throwing legumes was disturbing. It was like she wanted to call attention to herself.A few other customers glanced in her direction and I saw eyebrows raise and people scurry off to do the rest of their shopping or maybe just to get away from her. I lingered.I still needed to find some parsley and for some reason, Publix doesn’t place many rolls of plastic produce bags in the department so I was looking for them.

As I approached one of the rolls to tear one or two off the roll, this woman was picking up apples.Yes, she was throwing them down and this time one of them hit the floor. Inwardly I was done with this and I didn’t care what the people around me said. She threw another down on the pile and it fell on the floor and I just said firmly, “Stop it!”She looked up angrily at me. I continued, “If you’ve had a bad day, that’s fine, go home and throw things, but stop acting out and tearing up merchandise!” I kept eye contact with her. She was seething, and I could see it wasn’t at me. She was angry with someone and she couldn’t control herself.

I was bigger than she was and I think she figured I worked there. I picked up the apple and put it in my cart. It was all torn up and I was going to give it to the produce guy. She calmed down as she watched me and said, “I’m sorry”…and started to cry. I stayed where I was and certainly wasn’t going to touch her in any way, but realized my rebuke had brought her to her senses. She said again,”I’m sorry…I am just so sorry…” I told her it was okay and then I got a word of knowledge.”I asked her, “something happened at work and…” she interrupted me, “…and the supervisor embarrassed me in front of the entire department!!”

Tears ran down her face and I could tell something had really hurt her. I began gathering six apples from the stand where she was standing. I’m not allowed to eat apples with Type 2 but I was buyin’ apples today…if you know what I mean. Amazingly there was a roll of paper towels sitting nearby on a cart and I grabbed one and handed it to her and she gratefully accepted it.

For some reason, I began telling her of all the times I had been embarrassed publicly. I told her the time I was in Brazil and was speaking in public at church and I inadvertently used the wrong phrase and instead of saying, “I was a chicken” as in I was a coward, I ended up saying, “I was a street prostitute”. The congregation roared with laughter and I had never turned that shade of red before. I did that a lot in Brazil…my Portuguese needed a lot of work. she began smiling and started giggling a bit.I then regaled her with stories from birth about being embarrassed and by the time I was done, she was laughing. Just about then her phone buzzed and I thought, well, my work is done here, and began walking away giving her some privacy.

About 5 minutes passed and I was in the meat section when she approached me and said, “Sir, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk me down off the ledge today.” I laughed and said, “If you want to know the truth, I felt in my heart that the Lord told me you had been embarrassed at work.She looked down at her shoes and said, “It made me so angry…I just felt like I did when I was a little girl and my mama would embarrass me in front of my friends saying I was the “ugly duckling” of the family. It was a deep wound and it would happen again I told her if she didn’t get healing for it.

She told me the phone call she had received was from her husband. She had told him about the incident at work and that she was at the store getting groceries. For some reason, he felt she was angry enough on that phone call that he wanted to come to the store to be with her. As if on cue, he walked up to us as we talked. She introduced her husband to me and I shook his hand and introduced myself. I finished my thought with him present. “When we have been injured as children, we carry that within our hearts and we react every time someone touches that hurt.” A small tear appeared on her cheek again. Her husband placed his arm around his wife and shook his head approvingly.

At that moment, it would not have been appropriate to go into a full inner healing session. (You know, now that I think about it, I think I chickened out…Jesus wouldn’t have cared about appropriateness. ) At any rate, I told her when she got home to place a chair in front of her and pretend her mama was in that chair and to get it all out of her heart and then to SAY OUT LOUD, “Mama, I forgive you and I love you.” (Her mother had passed away 12 years previous.) As we parted ways, they pushed their cart toward the checkout line and we chatted about churches and I marveled as I looked at them.

This couple could have been models…they were beautiful! I realized that the god of this world hates the creation of God and tries with all of his might to destroy them. This lovely woman who was called the “ugly duckling” of the family couldn’t have been further from that description than black is from white. Tonight when I got home, I saw the six apples I bought sitting on my counter and remembered her.

I realize that much of our inner anger is a lack of forgiveness and when someone pushes that button, we go into a rage. The song by Don Henley tells it right,

“These times are so uncertain There’s a yearning undefined

People filled with rage

We all need a little tendernessHow can love survive

in such a graceless age?

Ah, the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness

They’re the very things we kill, I guess…

There are people in your life Who’ve come and gone

They let you downYou know they’ve hurt your pride

You better put it all behind you baby’Cause life goes on

You keep carryin’ that anger It’ll eat you up inside baby

I’ve been trying to get downTo the heart of the matter

But my will gets weak

And my thoughts seem to scatter

But I think it’s about forgiveness Forgiveness”

The way to put it all behind you is to FORGIVE. Stop carrying the anger, just pour your heart out before the Lord and let it out. Make a list of every person who has hurt you and against whom you hold an offense. One by one, sit them in that chair in front of you and begin pouring out your heart. It’s okay to be angry, but; before you finish, you MUST look at them and say, “I forgive you!”I know it works because I have had to do it many a time in my life and the hurt and the anger are gone.

After you forgive the person, Ask the Lord to heal your heart and to make you strong in that area of your life. I forgot to tell you, that the scripture I heard in my heart tonight when I saw those apples in the bowl in my house was,”Like apples of gold, in settings of silver, is a word spoken in the right circumstances at the right time.” Proverbs 25:11