Well, if you remember, in my previous blog, I was recounting an incident of getting trapped in a lie regarding a neighbor’s dog and my garden hose.
(That sounded like an introduction on one of those old radio shows. “When we last left our hero, he was trapped in a mine shaft and his flashlight had fallen out of his hand. Let’s see what happens today on Crisco theater!”)
Anyway, some of you wanted to know how things turned out with the woman I lied to. Did I go over and apologize, offer cookies and share the four spiritual laws? I have to tell you that, for some reason, I really hadn’t thought a lot about her since the incident. I guess I just sort of thought that I had blown the whole opportunity to apologize. That it might even be best for all concerned if she never had to hear what I had actually been doing. She was just the most recent in a long list of those, over the years, whom I had “repositioned” the truth to, in order to avoid an awkward situation. At best, maybe I thought that if everything lined up right, and she and I stumbled upon each other in an exactly appropriate setting, well, then maybe I would be able to tell her and make things right.
But my friend Bruce asked a number of you, in a Friends of Catalyst letter, to ask me about how things turned out with her. Thanks a lot buddy! Several of you commented, in kind and perhaps not as kind ways that I might want to consider facing that little issue. Since then God’s been gently but firmly nudging my heart, “So, John, what do you think we should do about this?”
Well, I sure wasn’t going to go over there to assuage my guilt from a “perhaps not as kind” reader’s post. I wanted to do it for right reasons, not compliantly checking off a sin by going through the motions with a certain behavior. I hate that like I hate biting into something hard in a fast food hamburger.
And so God had to rescue me.
In the late afternoon on Saturday, after returning home from working on Sunday’s message, Stacey called me to say that she had been talking longer than expected to some of the mom’s of the group going to homecoming with Carly. She’d be coming later and would push back our dinner arrangements. I suddenly now had a chance to take my dog Bali for a walk.
…and that’s when it happened.
There she was. Her name is Lynn. The woman I had lied to. And suddenly she is walking toward me on the other side of the street. And, unlike every other time I’ve ever seen her out, she has no dogs with her. Thirty yards away, closing fast. I thought something like, “God this is you, isn’t it? You set up this moment.”
I was overwhelmed. What do I do? Then at about twenty yards, “I can’t do this. I’m not ready. I haven’t showered, my breath is bad…and anyway, I don’t want to freak her out. I don’t want to come off as a stalker or something. I barely know her. I mean she’s got her Ipod going. I don’t want to frighten her. But thank You God for bringing this reminder that I should talk to her. And I will. I’m gonna do that. At a more appropriate time, I’m gonna go see her and apologize. So, thanks again, for this really clear reminder.”
But I knew better. I knew that this was His gift to me. And that it was not for a reminder. In about the time I had to decide on the day of the hose incident, I had to decide whether to smile and keep walking or go across the street and talk to her.
And so, I made up my mind to just keep walking, to avoid this present awkwardness, like I have done so often, all my life.
But apparently nobody informed my feet.
I found myself crossing over towards her and from somewhere inside, without formal permission, a voice came out, saying, “Hello. May I talk to you?”
She pulled out her earpieces, a little startled.
“May I talk to you?” I repeated. And then these words rushed out of my mouth: “Hey, I just wanted to speak to you about that deal with the hose the other day.”
Immediately, a giant grin broke over her face. She knew.
“I really was trying to spray your dogs,” I said sheepishly. “I’m so sorry. They were barking and-”
She wouldn’t let me finish.
“Oh my gosh!” she interrupted. “I was so caught off guard when it happened. I wanted so much to tell you right then that it was alright. I am so embarrassed by their barking. I don’t know what to do. And I thought how humane! What better way to stop their barking than just spraying them with water? You can spray them any time you want.”
We were both desperately trying to get words out before the other.
“That is so kind,” I said. “I just didn’t want you to think that I was the kind of person who would lie like that to you about such a thing. I obviously am, but I didn’t want you to think I was.”
She interrupted me, laughing, “Oh, thank you so much for saying that! I’m sure I would have done exactly the same thing. Bless you. Thank you for risking to tell me this. Bless you. And again, you may spray my dogs anytime you want.”
As we both started walking past each other, I shook my head and said, “You are so kind. You could have responded twenty others ways. Thank you. And, if I ever do it again, I will at least call out to make sure you’re not standing there.”
And that quickly, the moment I had grown to dread, was over.
God let me make a friend on Saturday. And He helped me off a hook I’d placed myself upon. How good is my God? Before the world began, before hoses were invented, He saw this day and actually went to the care of strategically placing Lynn, alone on a walk, without her dogs, in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
The rest of the walk I was almost skipping, free from the weight I was carrying. I came home and immediately called half a dozen friends who’d walked this brief journey with me. I shared it Sunday in my message and now I share it with all of you. Thanks for walking it with me.
And the moral of the story is…I’m not totally sure yet. But I do know this: God is really good…and I get to spray those dogs anytime I feel like it.