From childhood, I was encouraged to speak up, LOUDLY! I learned that I could be right. Often, if I heard some piece of trivia and believed it wrong I would say so. I have learned some lessons along the way. There is a gentleman I respect and care deeply about who once asked why I must always be right. I hadn’t thought about it until then, but though I thought I was just providing facts, this behavior was much more damaging. I have learned some “discernment” over the past several years. I am still learning to let those conversations flow and not be the distraction.
I made a recent visit to the local court house. I am familiar with the security routine. I put my purse on the conveyor belt, along with anything metal from my pockets, and my phone. I waited for the light to turn green, then stepped through the metal detector. I turned to the security officer to collect my things. She had a couple of questions, they are routine also. “Do you have any weapons in your purse? Do you have a camera in your purse? Do you have a knife in your purse?” I assured her the answer to all of them was no. No weapons, no camera, no knife. She repeated her questions. I repeated my answers. She then stated loudly and clearly, “Ma’am, there IS A KNIFE in your purse AND there IS A CAMERA in your purse. I must find them. Please give me your purse.” I have never carried a knife, my only camera that works was actually in my husband’s backpack in Ireland on that particular day, and I had no clue why she thought I had these things. It took her only a short time to empty my purse and present me with a camera that I did not recognize and a pocket knife, that looked vaguely familiar. I apologized. She suggested I exit the court house and return these specific items to my vehicle. I did that. I returned to the court house, again, I went through security, and this time, I did not possess any contraband, weapons or cameras on my person or in my purse.
Though I thought I was right, it became embarrassingly obvious I was wrong. Really, seriously wrong. I contacted my daughter and learned my granddaughter had lost a camera at my home. Was it black? I contacted my husband, and he asked what I was doing with his knife. I don’t really have an answer to that. I remember several occasions, I was taking him to the airport and dropped his knife in a safe place so it did not remain in his pocket. And yes, on occasion, the safe place was my purse.
My effort to maintain peace, and honor justice, was complicated by ignorance. May each of us be well informed and knowledgeable. May we honor others with respect and not embarrassment. And may we be humbled when we are wrong, and accept God’s grace, acknowledging each of us can be wrong.
“If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself, but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (Proverbs 15:32).
Contributed by Joe Lynne Rader, Silverton Friends