In seventh grade, the worst 15 minutes of my day were the first 15 minutes. It was the moment when I got off the school bus and faced the challenge of finding a group of boys to hang out with until the bell rang. It was a high stakes game of fitting in and I was usually losing. Outside the building were circles of kids standing around talking, reflecting their places in the social hierarchy. There was the popular crew, the druggies, the “trashy” kids, the smart girls, the “band nerds,” and the handful of African American kids in our…
It was Christmas Eve at the Hallmark store and the elderly cashier didn’t even look up when I said hello. I thought she might not have heard me. “Merry Christmas!” I said. Still no response. “That stuffed animal we’re buying is for our new baby — she could come any day now.” The woman barely looked up and coldly said, “You got anything else?” “Nope — that’s it. Just a little Christmas present for my new baby.” The woman charged my card and didn’t speak. “Well have a merry Christmas,” I said with a touch of irritation. She didn’t respond….
One night when my daughter was in kindergarten I was putting her down to sleep, and as I was leaving the room, she said, “Daddy, a girl at school called me a mean name.” “What was it?” I asked. She covered her face with her hands and said, “I don’t want to say.”
Several years ago, I made friends with a guy who volunteered at the same organization as me. He seemed like he wanted to be good friends, but he didn’t act like much of one. Sometimes he passive aggressively insulted me; other times he flattered me. He could be aloof, and then he could be clingy. But I stuck around because we had known each other for a while, and I felt like I owed it to him.
One time, I met a D.C. traffic-directing cop in the line at the mall and I remarked how dangerous her job was. “I mean, people in D.C. drive so crazy,” I said. “You could get killed.” “Oh no,” she said, “don’t feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for the people in parking enforcement. They get screamed at, spat on, cursed out – you name it. It’s horrible.”
So many times the same frustrating thing happens when I try to pray. “Heavenly Father,“ I say, but almost immediately I get interrupted by my own thoughts.
I was standing across the counter from the lady at the hole-in-the-wall dry cleaners and I was getting irritated. She had lost my pants and I was sure of it, but I couldn’t find my ticket to prove it. The woman kept insisting that I hadn’t dropped them off with my suit jacket.
I sat in the Fox News Washington studio last fall and waited to be interviewed on “Fox & Friends” about a heartwarming op-ed I had written for Fox News headlined “What happened when my daughter saw me kiss my wife.” My body was exhausted from an intense treatment for a chronic illness; a doctor had just reported that my dad would probably be dead in six months; and I felt like I was failing as a dad because I was spending too much time at work. I was lost in sea of depression and I couldn’t find my way home.
One time I was talking to a friend and she mentioned that when she first started following Jesus, the Lord greatly used sermons from a certain TV preacher to help her grow in her faith. Personally, I wasn’t impressed with the televangelist. Granted, I hadn’t actually listened to any of the preacher’s sermons, but that was beside the point. Everybody in my circle agreed that the preaching was little more than motivational speaking with scriptures thrown in.
I recently got into a brief argument with my wife over something totally minor. In the moment, however, it felt like it was a huge deal (pride has a way of converting little offenses into major ones).
It was the crack of dawn and I couldn’t stop looking over at the woman a few feet away from me on the beach. I had come to watch the sunrise and she was getting on my nerves.