We were talking and enjoying just being together again, when the doors opened. With her eyes on the ground she immediately stepped forward pulling her rolling suitcase behind her. She stopped abruptly, looked up, and gave us all a look that could have withered even the hardiest of all the hardy garden weeds. She mumbled something under her breath and backed up, allowing those of us who had offended her so greatly to step around her and off of the elevator. In the span of a few seconds, we had gone from playfully bantering to needing oxygen tanks and masks just to breathe in air so thick a Karate expert would have had trouble cutting it.
As we stepped out of the building, and out of hearing range, we made remarks about her apparent anger at us being in her way. It was obvious to all of us, that our mere existence, and horrible sense of timing, had really ticked her off.
We went on about the important things we had to tend to (getting our littlest princess to the wedding rehearsal so she would know exactly what to do). And in the business of the moment, the angry elevator lady was forgotten.
We had a busy weekend, and to top it off, for the first half of it, I was sick. The longer the evening went, the worse I felt. So much so, that I had to skip the rehearsal dinner in order to go back to our room to lie down. Alone in the room, the angry elevator lady came back to my mind. I wondered what could have been so bad that she would have been so greatly angered by a group of innocent people on an elevator.
The next day, we went about our business preparing for the wedding that night (it was beautiful by the way!). The next morning we got up, got ready, and packed our bags. Then we headed to the after wedding brunch. We loaded the car with all of our suitcases, and extra stuff that kids have to have on trips, and then loaded ourselves. As we pulled out of our parking spot, I noticed a lady walking across the lot to her own car. It was the angry elevator lady. Only this time, she didn't look angry, she just looked tired. Very tired. Being bitter and angry can wear a person down.
We had two "chance" encounters. I will most likely never see her again. But for a few brief seconds, I witnessed her wrath. Who knows what caused it. But it was there. I keep wondering if maybe I should have stayed on the elevator and spoken to her. Would it have made any difference in her life? But I didn't. I missed an opportunity to share the love of Christ with her. An opportunity I'll never have again. So, I learn from this, that I should never be so taken aback by another's actions, or reactions, that I can't take a second to share the love of God with someone who so obviously needs it.
And then I think...how many times have I been the angry elevator lady myself? How many times have I been busy, stressed to the breaking point, and one little inconvenience was all it took. Then anger explodes everywhere, spattering on any and all who dare to be near? And most often, it's not total strangers left gasping for breath in the aftermath, but those we love the most.
Some of my favorite Bible verses come to mind:
Ephesians 4:29 - 5:2
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Did you see that? "Grieve not the Holy Spirit". "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." That about covers it all, doesn't it?
And then, here's the good part...be kind, and tenderhearted, forgive one another. Because after all, God through Christ's death on the cross has forgiven us! Then, walk in love...self sacrificing love.
I blew my chance with the angry elevator lady. I pray that the next person who meets her won't blow theirs. I also pray that I will be ready for the next person I meet that needs a touch of God's love. And, I pray that I wil take my burdens and cares to the Lord on a regular basis, so that I won't explode wounding strangers and loved ones alike.
To the angry elevator lady, if she should ever read this...after all, all things are possible with God! I am sorry that I failed to share God's love with you, when you so obviously needed it. I will pray for you, every time I think of you. That you will discover the vast love that God has for you. That you can lay down that hurt, and anger, and bitterness, and replace it with love, kindness, and forgiveness. And while I'm praying for you, I'll be praying the same thing for myself.