My husband, despite being away on business for most of the week had to do overtime yesterday. I suppose I could have left him to get a bus in, but I have missed him so much already, that even a short ride into his work was worth it! Getting out to the car, however, we found that someone has dented the front passenger corner. Now, I am almost certain that it wasn’t me. I would have known about it – it is not just a bit of paint scratched off, but the whole corner banged up.
The last time something similar happened was when a friend and I had gone to the cinema. Two hours, a bucket of popcorn and a film later we returned to the car to discover the front of the car badly bashed in.
This time, like the last time, there was no note stuck on the windscreen with an apology or a phone number or anything – just the bashed corner.
After a mild diatribe about people not taking responsibility for their actions, I got to the stage where I accepted there was nothing I could do the track down the culprit. Complaining about it was not going to change anything. We had the money in the savings to cover the repairs.
Last night, however, I had a dream. I am not sure where I was, except that it wasn’t in Inverness. The district council had claimed back the front gardens in a row of houses to make a car park. I parked my car – the front dent was still there! The next morning the car wasn’t where I parked it. It was being picked up by a car recovery lorry. It looked like someone had been at it with a sledge hammer. There was also lots of unpleasant graffiti in black paint. It was not nice.
My sister told me that she thought she knew who had done it. It turned out to be a little old lady, a devout churchgoer! Apparently she had seen a jar of cooking sauce on the back seat of the car. She believed that I was mistreating my husband because I wasn’t cooking a meal from scratch, but using the jar. She was thoroughly convinced that this was a sin not just against my husband, but against God too.(It’s a dream! Absurd things are allowed in dreams!)
I remember being extremely angry. The damage to the car was bad enough, but damage to my reputation was even worse! She didn’t know me and yet she had judged me on the basis of a jar of cooking sauce! And then to claim to be a devout Christian too…
I remember yelling something like I was going to tell God all about her and He would take my side and she was in for a heap of trouble! There was no turning the other cheek, just out and out fury!
What remained with me when I woke up was the level of fury that I felt.
In Luke 6:45 it says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” I am not sure that what the woman did to my car, or my reputation, justified the words I spoke, or the tone of voice I used. I would hate to think that there is evil stored up in my heart, but I would imagine that every time we refuse to forgive, or every time we revisit a hurt and massage the grudge – it is like storing up evil. It is there ready to come out at an opportune time.
James 5:16 suggests the way of confession, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
I don’t need to ask if I could be as angry in the real world as I obviously got in the dream world, or whether I can let my heart speak words that unloving. The answer is a shameful “Yes!” But I am not powerless to change things – or rather Christ is not powerless to change me.
Like Paul I can cry “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24) and have my answer “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (7:25)