Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
We decide to go to the trampoline place that opened here last fall. We took our granddaughter there when she was here at Christmas and it was a big hit. I tucked the special socks we purchased back then away for such a day as this. I toss them in my purse and off we go.
I realize I’m in trouble as soon as we get there. The rule is that in the trampoline area you must be sock-clad—whether you’re jumping or not. Last time, it was no big deal. We just shed our winter footwear and carried on. It’s spring now, though, and this girl does away with wearing socks as soon as she can.
I hope that if my barefoot self just sits on the bench closest to the entrance to the trampoline area I’ll be okay. Grandpa and Makiya head off and I watch from my vantage point. I’ve barely settled in when a young man comes over and tells me I can’t stay because everyone must wear socks—oh, and there are socks for purchase at the front counter.
I leave the area in shame. There’s a long lineup at the front counter, and I suspect that the socks-for-purchase will be costly so I decide to walk to Safeway a few doors down. My phone rings when I’m standing at the hosiery display.
”Where are you?” Gerry asks.
”At Safeway buying socks,” I tell him. “I got kicked out.”
I can recall just one other time when I was kicked out of an establishment. It was a casino. Gerry was with me. But that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, finally, with socks on my feet, I join Gerry where he’s watching Makiya run and jump and bounce. She’s having a blast.
Before long, I see a large bearded camouflage-wearing gentleman sitting in one of the comfy chairs watching the jumpers. He’s barefoot. I marvel at his nerve in walking right into the middle of the socks-only region. He’s braver than I.
As I watch Makiya, I keep a casual eye on Barefoot Camo Man. Why, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll feel some kind of justification when he’s asked to leave too. Except he isn’t.
The same young man who ousted me walks right past him—multiple times—as do other employees. I’m aghast. I point out the situation to Gerry, seeking support for my indignation.
At one point Barefoot Camo Man walks boldly past a couple of workers headed for the dodgeball pit. He stands RIGHT NEXT TO one of them as he watches the dodgeball action.
I’m getting annoyed.
“Why is it that an innocent grandma is kicked out right away but nothing is said to the MAN?” I whisper to Gerry.
He just smiles and turns his attention back to Makiya..
Then it hits me.
It hits me how easy it is for me to take personal offence at something where none is intended. It hits me how easy it is for me to worry about the error of another’s ways and ignore my own transgression. It hits me how quick I am to cry foul over what I perceive to be unfair treatment in relation to that of another.
And the truth takes over.
I knew what the rules were when I deliberately chose to break them. I justified my behaviour in my mind by telling myself I was just a grandma and I would stay near the entrance.
I was quick to assume that there was an underlying reason why Barefoot Camo Man was allowed to stay and I wasn’t. I was also quick to try to get someone else to pick up my offence.
And I see the grace of God in the moment.
I see how my walk through this life—my circumstances, my challenges, and my blessings—is not to be compared with that of anyone else. My humanness makes it easy for me to cry foul and take my eyes off of the truth that all things are crafted beautifully together by the Creator for my good. The better way is to pay careful attention to making sure I’m walking with integrity and honouring the God who gifted me with everything in this life.
And so I am convicted of my willingness to bend the rules, and worse, to become indignant when another is not asked to pay the same penalty as me.
I shift my feeling from the perceived offence to a sense of humility and gratitude for the lesson. I choose to let it go and focus my attention on the joy of my granddaughter who is bouncing and shooting hoops and boosting her confidence with each ball that goes through the hoop. The better thing. The priceless thing.
Later, as we are leaving, I see Barefoot Camo Man sitting in one of the comfy observation chairs sporting a brand new pair of white socks.
# # #
I loved the trampoline place it was so fun! When I was shooting hoops I was keeping an eye on a certain someone. Can you guess who? It was a boy I was right behind him in the lineup! I was at the shortest hoop at the time and I had really good aim. Guess what my strategy was? I kept my eye on the hoop. As I got to the middle hoop I started getting way better at it and then I asked the boy if he wanted a turn! He denied it so I kept shooting. When I got to the highest hoop I got it in the first shot! That was really fun, thank you Grandpa!