“You could never afford those!” The woman’s words stung.
I’d never owned a pair of prescription sunglasses before. It was definitely going to be a splurge, but the doctor had sounded so adamant about caring for my eyes that I thought it was urgent.
I’m all about prevention. “A stitch in time saves nine” is the saying I grew up on.
This echoed within as I tried desperately to justify the expense of such a luxury. Determined to prevent damage down the road, I was ready to purchase a pair.
I handed her my prescription and asked what she thought might be a “fun” frame for sunglasses. She looked at me and quickly directed me towards the sales rack. As I looked over each frame, not much stood out.
Knowing this investment would not happen frequently, I asked if there might be a more classic yet up-to-date pair to purchase. Something a little sportier looking is what I had in mind and when I mentioned it, her response weighed heavy.
“Oh, yes there are but you could never afford those!”
At the time, I didn’t question her. Shrugging my shoulders I focused on the ones before me and made due.
It’s been many a year now since the remark was made, and it still bothers me from time to time. It bothers me that I didn’t ask how much more the others were. Sometimes I wonder what made her think I couldn’t afford more than what was on sale. Was it my attire? Was it the way I did or perhaps didn’t do my make-up that day? Sometimes I wonder why it bothers me at all.
The latter has an answer, but it’s not what one might think. I thought I needed to forgive her once again like so many times before. I’ve often prayed, “Father, forgive her for she knew not what she did.” But the truth was, I sometimes attached a few wandering thoughts such as: Forgive her for being rude and thoughtless in her choice of words. Forgive her for not being nicer. Forgive her for being a bit short and snippy with me as apparently I didn’t live up to her standards of who she thought could afford her very best.
Today, I had a change of heart. You see, each time I put it back on her, it continued to have power over me. I realized what a waste of time it was to use my time reviewing something that perhaps never even happened the way I perceived it. Perhaps if I had stopped to clarify what her words meant, I would have found out she simply meant most people don’t even go there when hunting for glasses. Perhaps she was saving me time and desired to help me save cost.
Today I prayed, Lord, forgive my pride. Forgive me for thinking about myself more than the clerk behind the counter. Forgive me for being offended about something that perhaps wasn’t even meant to offend. Forgive me for even being slightly slighted by her words.
May it be Your Word I am most concerned about and not the words of others. Amen.
Kathleen Kjolhaug, OblSB
This article was first published in Theology in the Trenches, a column written by oblate Kathleen Kjolhaug. Posted with permission. Read more articles on her blog, Theology in the Trenches.