This is a continuation of the previous post. Please read the previous post before embarking on this literary journey.

I pulled into the slushy, Happy Joe's/Subway/Dollar General parking lot and performed a quick self-evaluation before opening my car door. What were my motives? What was my purpose? I realized that this action was entirely out of character for me. (I tend to run from confrontation, instead of searching for it. Even taking the note to the police station had been extraordinary for me.) I hesitated, wondering if this was right or wrong. A tiny part of me screamed, "Go home! Just drop it!" But the rest of me wanted justice. I named my daughter Liberty for a reason: this is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, and I want my children to stand and fight to keep it that way if necessary. Business owners should not be allowed to threaten car owners, even if the car owner has parked illegally on their property. Instead, America has provided a legal course of action that the wronged business owner can take to respond to illegally parked cars. I know this sounds crazy, but I would have been satisfied to have received a ticket on my windshield from the police rather than a threat on my windshield from Craig. (I desired to do something about the fact that the police wanted to sweep their part of it under the rug, too, but I do not crave receiving a ticket every time I enter town as retaliation...and I didn't know if that would have been their next course of action.)

I finished my self-examination very quickly, afraid that I might talk myself out of the pending confrontation. Since the note implied that it was from all three businesses, I walked into Happy Joe's first and asked to speak with the manager. I planned to apologize for parking in their lot, and to inform them that the note they had written was deemed illegal by the police. However, no one at Happy Joe's was even aware that I had illegally parked in their lot. The same thing happened at Dollar General. They were shocked by the note, and ended up apologizing to me that their name had even been associated with it! I was surprised at these two reactions and as a result, much calmer when I headed into Subway.

"Hi." I congenially greeted the two young men behind the counter. "May I speak with the owner, Craig, please?" I smiled.

"He's not here right now, but I can give you his phone number if you'd like," the first man volunteered.

"Okay, that would be great!" I smiled again. He took me into the back room, and handed me a directory. Craig's name and number were the first on the list. The agreeable young man allowed me to use the phone in the back room to call Craig, and he even thoughtfully left to give me some much appreciated privacy. I did not relish the thought of him listening in on the about to ensue conversation!

I counted the rings, and then enjoyed a short moment of sheer panic when Craig's voice mail kicked in. Decision time: leave a message or hang up? Leave a message or hang up? At the last second I chose to leave a message.

I made sure that my voice was very nice and pleasant sounding. "Hi, Craig." I began. I gave him my first and last name, and told him that I had received the note that he had placed on my windshield. "I took your note to the police," I conversationally informed him, "and they told me that what you had written was illegal and inappropriate. They also apologized to me for illegally giving my name to you. I'm just calling to let you know that I will no longer illegally park in your parking lot, and to thank you for sparing me a ticket, but I wanted to advise you that in the future, if you have an unwanted car in your lot, you may want to leave them a nicer note, explaining that if they park there again, you will can choose to call the police, instead of threatening them as you did me. This may help you to obtain the voluntary removal of their car, and still ensure that you retain their business. Thanks, Craig! Goodbye." I hung up, took a deep breath, and walked back into the dining area. I marvelled that I was not shaking as I headed towards the door. The man who had escorted me into the back room looked up from the sandwich that he was preparing and nicely inquired, "Did you get a-hold of him?"

I turned back and smiled at him, "No, I got his voice mail, so I just left a message. Thanks very much for your help!"

When Kimmie climbed into Jenny at the school's parking lot, she was happy to be regaled with the story of my adventures, the same with Rhonda, when I picked Liberty up, and the same with Jeremy, as we sat side by side at Kimmie's basketball game (by the way, Jeremy worked day shift last week, so we got to be together every evening!!!!) The next day, Wednesday, I was dreadfully sick. I stayed home, and with nothing else to occupy my mind, I spent the day mentally telling-off Craig. I could not shake thoughts of "what I could have said" from my mind, and I became obsessed with the best way of telling him off. The more I thought of it, the angrier I became. I spoke with a friend of mine on the phone on Wednesday, and he commented that I sounded really down, not like the usual Missy. I responded that it was because I was sick, but I knew it was because I was angry. A few hours later, I sat down with my Bible for my daily devotions. I've been reading through the book of Matthew in the New Testament, and on that day, I was scheduled to read Matthew 18.

Everything was la-dee-dah, until I got to verses 21 through 34. Here is what it says:

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

Ouch! That hit me right in the heart. God has forgiven me for innumerable sins - just wiped my slate completely clean, and here I am trying to hold one note against this Craig-guy, when I had even started it by illegally parking in his lot. Have you ever tried to forgive someone whom you were REALLY mad at? It's hard to do! But when I think of how thankful I am that God is not holding my multitude of sins against me, it makes forgiving others a little easier.
4 Responses
  1. Donette Says:

    Hello, I found your blog via the note you left on Gretchen's. I really enjoyed your story and I can relate in so many ways. I have found myself offended for the slightest thing while never once thinking of Christ's sacrifice for me or His command to forgive. Silly, huh? Anyway, thanks for letting me read your thoughts . . .

  2. Ditto Donette... I found your blog through Gretchen's, too. Thanks for the transparency, and you have a great gift for writing. I felt like I was reading a book.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I didn't realize how much alike we are. I also usually run away from confrontation avoiding it at all costs and I also get caught up in obsessively thinking about what I could have said and just reliving the moment over and over again until I get snappy at my poor husband. Thank you for the verses, they will help me next time I am in that situation.

  4. wow sis iv herd those versis so many times befor but it really makes a bigger diffrens when ther i story to go with it

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