Once Upon a Time There was a Twice Upon a Time
By Ed Delph
August 19, 2019
Have you ever been in a situation where you wished you could take back what you said to another person or about another person? Something provoked you or set you off and what was on the inside of you came right of out your mouth. You zinged them, attacking them verbally. You went to the dark side when they didn’t do all that much to provoke you.
Many times, we humans attack others, even when something happens that is not their fault. They were the recipient of our frustrations and anger that had built up inside us for years. They just happened to be there when our internal temperature reached a boiling point. Then there is a breach in the wall between them and us. Anger or frustration not transformed is transferred.
Let me clarify where I am going here with a real-life example. The perpetrator in this case was none other than me, myself, and I. Yes, you probably thought I was perfect, writing all these articles for years.
Hang on, here we go, into the darkness. Two weeks ago, I returned from three weeks of speaking in South Africa. I was home for two days. Then Becky and I flew to Colorado Springs to speak at the World Prayer Center and to visit friends.
After a smooth check-in at the airline counter on our return home trip, we proceeded to the security line. Going through security can be a frustrating process. The lines are long. People going through them have no idea what to do. The agents are overworked and tired of dealing with the sheer volume of people. And the stress of getting to their flight in time heightens the anxiety of most everyone. By the time you get through the process, you are like a kettle on the boil. But you don’t want to vent your frustration because they might think you’re a terrorist. It’s their job.
Becky and I have a Global Entry pass, so we check into the TSA Pre-Approved line. It’s a much quicker line. You put your hand-carry on the belt, they check it out and you’re on your way. But not on this occasion.
Understand I had just been through heaps of security checks in South Africa and now in America. My patience with the security process was registering empty. Then it happened. The frequent-flyer worst nightmare. The security agent, inspecting my carry-on bag by X-ray, sees something in my bag she wants to be investigated. Finally, another TSA agent came to get my bag, unzipped it, and proceeded to go through the bag - slow, slowly, and slower than slowly.
Inside me, the mercury was rising. Jupiter was ascending. I was fuming at the agent going through my carry-on. I stood back, fearing I might say or do something stupid. He sees my Bible inside my carry-on. He flips through it. He looks at me and very nicely says, “This is quite a Bible. You have really used it. How long have you had it?”
Have you ever spoken harshly and then wished you had never said it? Well, I did then. When the words came out of my mouth, it was like I was running in slow motion, trying to catch the words as they proceeded into the air to his and many other ears. I spoke forcefully and loudly, “Don’t talk to me. Just check the bag and let me get out of here.” What was on the inside went outside. He looked at me, smiled and zipped up the bag. I grabbed it without looking at him and off I went, thoroughly disgusted with myself more than him.
Here he is, doing his job, being nice by starting a conversation about the very same Bible I just used in South Africa and Colorado, ministering to thousands. He complimented me and I dissed him. How disappointing. My wife responded like Barney Fife in that old Andy Griffith show, “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!” I got the silent treatment from her which is worse than any TSA agent or line. In one moment of a ‘flesh flash,’ I had undermined the very person I am.
But wait, there’s more. Though I had created a breach in the wall with the agent, I could now attempt to repair the breach in the wall. With God, the breach is not so much the issue as being the repairer of the breach, especially when you caused the breach. Isaiah 58:12 says, “…and you shall be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths in which to dwell.”
What did I do to repair the breach? I walked back to the agent, looked at him in the face, and asked his forgiveness. No excuses. No justifications. “I’m so sorry. You were just doing your job. This is my issue. Please forgive me.” He looked at me, a bit surprised, and smiled. “That’s all right. I understand. Have a good day.” If the TSA agent is out there somewhere reading this article, thank you. Your response to my response repaired me more than you will ever know.
It’s not the ‘once upon a time’ that gets us, it’s what we do afterward with the breach. ‘Once upon a time’ created the breach. ‘Twice upon a time’ repaired the breach. The time is always right to do what’s right. Repairing the breach happens ‘twice upon a time.’ Thank God for right paths.
Ed Delph August 19, 2019 CCC
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com