Okay, I've been WAY overdue for a Sister Sunshine Charlotte moment. This week, it happened at the Mother of All Craft Shows--the Christmas Village. I went with a girlfriend, and we had a very enjoyable time of it--I didn't spend too much money, we ate good food and sampled dips and fudge and soups and hot chocolates and cider all of the way through the building, and we laughed and had an all around big time. Until the woman at the muffin display that is.
I have to confess that I have a particularly nasty habit for a Christian. I wasn't saved until I was 21, so one of the icky things that I picked up as integral part of the Essence of Charlotte is an amazing ability to curse. I mean I can tear it up. I can go toe to toe with anyone, anytime, anywhere. As the First Lady at the church, you can see where this could be a problem.
I've edited the worst words out (with help from the Holy Spirit), but I still let a few choice, three-dollar-words come flying out, usually at the most inopportune times. Like for instance, the word "crap". I know it's terrible, just terrible for the preacher's wife to we walking around saying things like "crap" and "toot" and "hoochy mama", but it just falls out of my face sometimes. And it hands down beats the other words I know to fill in those blanks.
The other phrase that I am working on is "oh, my Lord"--usually screamed when a child has done a noser off of some great height, or I've burned myself on a hot pan, or I just had a near miss on the freeway. But I also use it to express great joy as I did at the Civic Center when the man passing out samples handed me a piece of pecan pie muffin that made my heart skip a full beat. I turned to my friend and said, "Oh, my Lord, that's the best muffin I think I ever put in my mouth."
Then It Happened.
This small, well dressed, petite woman in a Soccer Mom pressed linen dress had the misfortune to look me right in the face and say, "You should say 'oh, my', but not 'Lord' like that. It's offensive."
I stood stone still because first, I was trying to see if I knew that woman or if she knew me. No, no she was a total stranger. Then I looked around to see if my friend had heard it, because are you kidding me? Did a Susie Smiles A Lot stranger just correct me in the middle of the Civic Center? I swallowed hard on my muffin and said, completely thinking it without really meaning to say it, "Lady, did you just CORRECT me?"
She gave me the Well-I'm-A-Christian face and said almost as though the words tasted bad in her mouth, "You shouldn't say the Lord's name like that."
Now, she's totally right. I shouldn't. No one should. It's a terrible, terrible habit, especially for Christians. It's a huge flaw in my spiritual walk and something I am working on in my life. But she doesn't know that or know me. At all. And she doesn't know if I'm lost or saved or whatever.
So, this is when Sister Sunshine bows up and suddenly out she comes, darn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.
I start laughing this tight little sarcastic laugh and let it rip.
"I'm going to tell you what, Sister. I can call him 'Lord' because He IS my Lord. And since you felt as though you could speak so frankly, I feel equally able to speak frankly. People like you are the reason that lost people die and go to Hell. They meet a 'Christian' like you who feels the need to correct behavior without correcting a heart condition first. If I'm lost then you shouldn't be shocked at anything that comes out of my mouth. You are judgemental and tacky and a complete toot for correcting a total stranger in public." (At least I hope I called her a toot, although once Sister Sunshine is on the scene it's all bets off.)
By this time, my head is bobbing and my arm has started flailing around, and I'm spitting muffin everywhere. Then this woman's friend had the misfortune to walk up and actually say, "Oh my God, what is going on?"
I laughed and pointed from the Oh-My-God Woman back to the pompous Religious Speech Police Nutcake and said, "Are you kidding me? You are running around correcting total strangers and you drove up here and are shopping with a woman who just said 'oh my g. o. d.'???"
I think the warning bell went off in this woman's head to escape, escape from the crazed muffin-tasting woman because she backed up and started away from me. It's not that easy once I turn it on, folks.
"Oh, don't you walk off now, ma'am, I'm not done. You don't give a flying squirrel about my salvation, you just wanted to be Right and superior to me. And another thing, I didn't realize that the Church of the Living Pharisee came this far West."
And then I added loudly for good measure just before I turned and went about my business, raising my hand in the air as though in praise, "Dear Lord, please help this poor woman pull the plank from her own eye before she runs into someone else's splinter in this building and feels the need to be Right instead of Righteous. Oh, and I'll take two of those Good God in Heaven-ly fine muffin mixes, please."
You all need to start praying for me now that I don't continue spreading the Christmas Spirit all over the place this year. Seriously. I may need a special prayer service that involves an exorcism of evil from my mouth. :-)
So, lessons learned from this latest meltdown: yes, it is wrong to use the Lord's name so casually. It is a bad thing. But when you are walking out in the world as a Child of the King, you need to recall that everyone isn't like you. Correcting behavior without addressing the sin problem in someone is like whiting out your name and number in the phone book at your house and then believing that it doesn't exist in space anymore. It's absolutely ridiculous. And ignorant.
Since I was a stranger to that woman, I could have easily been lost and without Jesus in my heart and then someone with the Religious High Hat on comes along and is correcting behavior at random--well, it just serves to confirm what the world thinks about us as Christians. That we are governed by a series of rules and regulations and Right behavior. That we are condemning and look down our noses at people who don't do it like we do. That we are full of ourselves and our works, when it is by GRACE that I am saved, not of my own (thank you GOD!), but in spite of what comes out of my mouth, and that's a very good thing since "oh my Lord" is probably coming out of my mouth numerous times this upcoming week.
Whew. That Sister Sunshine Chick is wearing me out. And if you happen to go to church with a woman who tomorrow in Sunday School tells you about some muffin-spitting lunatic who chased her around the Civic Center screaming out phrases like "Pharisaical pomposity", every word of it is true.