P E T T Y

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“You are so PETTY”, the anonymous note read.

She crumpled it up in a ball and threw it inside her desk, looking around to see if anyone was watching. She made an effort to return to her seat with a forced smile on her face.  She’d have time to cry after school.

And she did cry.  Even though she was popular, and had lots of friends, the words stung her. Was she really petty?  She thought she knew what the word meant, but she decided to look it up just in case:

mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: a petty person.” 

She wondered who had written the note, and what she had done to deserve the harsh words.

Had she been mean?  Well, maybe sometimes. There were kids in her class that she teased.  Some of them didn’t dress very nicely.  She didn’t mean anything by it, really.  She was just laughing along with her friends.

Had she been “ungenerous”?  Well, she did talk behind some kid’s backs. That probably wasn’t very generous.  And she hadn’t invited Gabriella over for a big sleep over, even though they’d been best friends last year.  Gabriella’s parents lived in the “wrong” part of town, according to some of her other friends.

Now she was crying again.  Not just for embarrassment, but for shame.  She hadn’t really stopped and thought about how she might be hurting other people.

She looked at the cross hanging on her bedroom wall, and cried some more. She reached for her Bible, and it flopped open to where she had bookmarked one of her favorite verses:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Finally, she said a prayer and asked for forgiveness for how she’d behaved.  She even prayed for the person who had written her the note.

The next day she felt very different as she walked into class.  She found herself looking at each person through new eyes.  She wanted to see people the way Jesus saw them.

She sat down at her desk, and after thinking about it, reached inside to grab the crumpled up note. She thought she might keep it as a reminder.

She flattened the note out and her jaw dropped.

There it said in plain English, “You’re so PRETTY“.

Not “Petty”, “Pretty”.

Blushing slightly, she smiled and put the note back in her desk.

For a moment the thought passed through her mind, “This changes everything”.

“No it doesn’t,” she said aloud, softly, smiling.

“God’s Love changes everything.”

Have a great week,

Mitch

Pettiness prayer

Are you a HULK?

“Mr. Mcgee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” – David Banner AKA The Incredible Hulk

And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’  – Jonah 4:4

I knew a guy, back in the day.

He was a nice enough guy, popular for a 4th grader, good looking, well behaved. We were almost friends.

But when we would play football on the playground, he became a different person. He would begin to scream in rage.  He would stand up tall and flex his muscles, seeming to double in size. Veins would throb in his head. His shirt would rip at the seams. He would tackle unsuspecting opponents with a vicious satisfaction. You could see the adrenaline transforming him into a monster.

After every game it would take him a good fifteen minutes to calm down and return to his mild-mannered self. It got to the point where the other guys didn’t want to play with him anymore.

I talked to him about it once. I said, “you get so angry when you’re playing games. It’s like you’re out of control”.

He nodded reluctantly. “I know. I think there’s something wrong with me.”

No, he didn’t turn green, but in just about every other measurable way, he was our playground’s Incredible Hulk.

I know, I know, the Incredible Hulk is a superhero. A good guy. But not for this devotion. See, there are lots of Hulks out there, and more often than not, Hulks Smash through life in an unhealthy way.

Do you know any Hulks? Contrary to what comic books and TV has taught us, Hulks come in all shapes and sizes (and colors). The one thing all Hulks have in common is that, no matter how they appear on the outside, there’s a ticking time-bomb of anger inside, just waiting to go off.

You may have one at your office. You may have one in your family. You may be married to one.

You may be one, yourself.

Anger is one of the hardest emotions for us to control. I liken it to rocket fuel. Powerful, explosive, dangerous when it’s unfocussed. While it is possible to channel your anger into something productive, there are millions of people in our society who never learned how to do that.

A surprising example from the Bible is the prophet Jonah. God sent him to Nineveh on a mission of mercy, but Jonah exploded back in a barely concealed rage. He was angry at the people of this foreign city, whom he believed should be destroyed. He was angry at God, whom he believed was being too easy on these people.

If Jonah had his way, he would have turned into the Jolly Green Giant and stomped the city to the ground. His uncontrolled anger kept him from listening to reason, and listening to God.

Some of you know all too well the danger that comes from living in close proximity to a Hulk. Some days may be good days, and other days may be nightmares. Domestic violence, dating violence, and bullying are all examples of out-of-control Hulk behavior. If you feel trapped in a situation involving a Hulk, please know that God wants more than that for you  (and them). Make sure you are safe, and talk to a pastor or a counselor.

Others of us come across Hulks in traffic, in lines at the DMV, and quite often at the ball game (especially if there’s beer involved). My advice? Walk away. Hulks tend to deflate if there’s no one around to get their blood pumping.

And if YOU are the Hulk, ready to explode with rage, even when you do your best to avoid it, know this: There is nothing about your great anger that makes you incredible. In reality, it’s a detriment to the grace-filled life God has called you to live.

It’s probably time to get some help,

And a new shirt.

Have a Banner Week,

Mitch