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20160127_205853The rant was already in full flex when I walked through the door and over to the receptionist window to check in. The woman across the aisle from her, the one for whom she was narrating her tirade, was wide-eyed. I’m not sure if it was because she was actually interested in hearing all of the dreadful, but most likely overly-compensated bluster about the woman’s ex-husband, or because she was afraid that if she didn’t seem interested, this woman might attend to her in some way with the same vengeful spirit.

I sat down in one of the only available chairs in the room, which unfortunately was only two seats away from the day’s guest lecturer.

As I sat and scrolled through the email messages on my phone, I learned just how much she hated her ex-husband. I learned that he was a terrible father to her children. I learned that he was an abysmal husband to her. She described him as though she were tasked with describing the devil – evil in every way and worthy of the whole society’s scorn, or at least the scorn of everyone in the waiting room.

But then she turned for only a half second and noticed peripherally that she was sitting next to a clergyman so obviously marked by a clerical collar.

From that moment on, the listening room was treated to fantastical tales of her faithfulness in church, her devotion to her “relevant” minister, and how she is very devotional – reading her Joel Osteen books every day.

Funny, isn’t it?

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time an event like this has unfolded before me. It happens more than you’d know. It doesn’t always take this form, but it almost always plays out in similar ways. Even further, sometimes I am invited into the conversation and am given the opportunity to help lead, other times I’m kept at the rim. But no matter which role I play, I am usually petitioning of God two things: “First, Lord, if it be Your will, deliver me by way of Your servant, the receptionist. And yet, if it is Your will that I be inserted into the discussion, guide my words. Give me the wisdom to speak faithfully, because I am human, Lord, and what I am thinking of sharing right now might not help.”

That second petition is crucial. Why? Because, as I said, I know what I want to say, and it often isn’t what I should say.

For example, in this most recent event, my human desire would have been to affirm the sinful fellowship of the whole human race, which almost certainly included her husband, but then to take an extra bit of time reflecting back to her the venomously bombastic nature of her viscera on display as most deserving of an “ex” husband. “I mean, if you act this way in public, I can only imagine your capabilities in private. In my opinion, your ‘ex’ looks to have been delivered.”

Second, I would have liked to say rather succinctly, “Your ‘Osteen’ comment didn’t unembarrass you, by the way. It only made things worse. The only good thing about Joel Osteen is that he has really awesome teeth. He can really teach us a thing or two about proper dental care. Other than that, most folks who genuinely believe in Jesus and read His Word know that Osteen is an idiot and devotionally useless for Christians. Sure, he’s got a lot of folks duped and he makes a lot of money pretending to be a ‘preacher,’ but in the end, anyone who publicly rebukes Peter and Paul, saying that what they wrote in the Bible is in need of correction; or anyone who says that God wants you to be ‘comfortably wealthy,’ and if you aren’t, it’s because you aren’t trusting God enough – well, those are the guys that the Bible – and thereby the true church, mind you – refer to as false prophets. We try to stay away from those folks.”

Alas, I did not say such things, but the Lord did grant the substance of my first petition, allowing me to grieve through only a few minutes before moving the nurse to call me to the door in order that she might lead me to an examination room and thereby my rescue.

The dram I am lifting tonight – the Royal Brackla 12-year-old – is in high thanksgiving and praise for the swift relief, and yet is offered with somewhat of a tempered sorrow for the woman.

Unlike her, the Royal Brackla 12 contributes to an air of gentleness in the nosing, signifying that it is by no means harsh, but instead is ready to contribute a resonance of fruity character in order that your spirits would be raised rather than afflict.

The palate endorses the kindheartedness and sees to settling what has been offered. It comes in the form of cherry pie and malted whipped cream. There’s even a hint of smoked butterscotch, although it isn’t incredibly pronounced.

The whole delightful little conversation comes to a medium conclusion, one in which you can still sense the malted cream, except now it has been slightly warmed.

And so, here’s to you, dear lady from the waiting room. May you find peace to calm your angry spirit. May you learn to forgive and be forgiven. And may you understand that ripping someone to shreds before a room full of listeners and then listing your supposed spiritual achievements in order to bring your scale of discomfiture back into balance is by no means a valid tactic for personal adornment. I sure hope your “relevant” minister has enough time to help counsel you during what I suspect is most likely your “once-every-six-months” visit to church.