The Value Series
I am sure anyone could hear myself and two colleagues laughing as we discussed our weekend dates. Our laughter decreased as we watched someone approaching us. I still remember when Evette walked into the office dressed in a plaid suit jacket and walked with uncertainty. It was her first day on the job, so I'm sure nervousness may have been what I was seeing.
She first introduced herself to my colleague, Faith, then glanced by me once and began to speak to my other colleague, Kelly. She asked Kelly her name again for clarification purposes, then added a line to the conversation that shocked us all. She said, pointing in my direction, "I know she's on the bad list, but you aren't yet. What is your name again?"
There was silence for a moment, as we all stood stunned by the comment. It was obvious by the look on our faces that Evette did not use her words wisely. For a moment, we all waited for a hint of laughter, a smile, or a follow-up comment. Nothing. Evette was serious.
Interesting. We had never met this woman. We knew who she worked for and would not be surprised by this type of comment. She was old enough to be my mother, so I respectfully kept my mouth shut.
The conversation continued with my colleague, Kelly, but Evette wouldn't even look in my direction. You would have thought I had just put hot sauce in her coffee. Why would this woman who had never met me be so rude? Bad list? What did I do to get on her bad list? What does it mean to be on her bad list?
Anyone who knows me would tell you that I'm a kind person. I'm not perfect, but I can carry a conversation with just about anyone. I was raised to not take on the offenses of others. Instead, get to know someone before making judgments. Evidently, Evette was not raised by my mother.
Before Evette stepped away from the conversation, she turned to me in one of those Stepford Wives flip of the hand kind of way, and said, "Oh, you know I was just playing. We should get together some time." The two other colleagues in the conversation rolled their eyes as she walked away. Evette had no intention of getting together with me or getting to know me. She had already put me on the stand, heard my case, and judged me before she ever met me.
I was angry for a moment at the injustice, then God said, "This is my gift to you."
Confused and still a bit ticked off, I said, "Gift? Really? The bible says you give good gifts, God. This was not a good gift. This was everything you are not. Judgment. Condemnation. Discrimination. Offense. Lies. Control. Manipulation. How was this a gift from you?"
He said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34) She just told you who she was and now you need to listen. Believe who she presented herself to be."
God was right. Not only had she showed me who she was, but others began to approach me to share similar unprofessional encounters with Evette.
This reminds me of a wise quote a friend once shared with me, "People will always tell you what kind of person they are, all you need to do is watch and listen."
I can guess why this woman made unfounded judgments about me, but it doesn't matter. She never invited me to lunch, apologized, or got to know me or any of my colleagues. It also doesn't matter how she treats me or anyone else. What matters is how I respond to her in love, grace, and truth, which I continued to do.
Many of us will be encountering people this week in our family, workplace, and social circle in which we have not had a good history. Perhaps unjust judgments have been made, miscommunications and even very hurtful words have been exchanged. You may even meet new people this week like Evette.
Chose to speak life, grace, and love despite their words and actions.
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."