All day I tried to figure out how to get out of this. My humanness still cringes over the embarrassment and anger I felt over the scene on Saturday --- over a cup of water. OK, it wasn't really that bad. It didn't go on forever or even escalate, really. It just became the priniciple of the thing (don't know what I'm talking about? Check this out.) But, I've realized...determined...that it was an opportunity to learn and to grow through Christ. My running partner and I could have gone out on Sunday morning when the temperature was about 15 degrees cooler and the humidity was about 30% less. But we didn't. We went out Saturday and a scene ensued, and that's all there is to it. Now, what do I choose to do about it?
Oh, yeah. I responded at home in a human way. I told my husband and then reveled in his galant heroism as he offered to phone the gentleman and give him a piece of his mind. And I may have googled the business and left a less than rosy 'review.' And I could have written an incredibly scathing letter to tell this business owner just how he should run his business. But, instead, I let it go for the day (as much as I am able to let things go), and I attended church on Sunday morning to hear this sermon, in a series entitled Streetwise: Experiencing the Proverbs Life:
Living Righteously: Staying 'In the Zone'
Basically, 'staying in the zone' means living right before God and before man.
Our mission statement as a church reads:
Reaching and equipping people to think and act like Jesus
I don't think I took the opportunity to think or act like Jesus. And I certainly didn't equip the shop owner to think or act like my savior, either. So here's what I'm doing. I'm making it right. Well, as right as I can. And I have no idea what sort of humanity or inhumanity I may receive in response, but I feel like I need to say something.
Following is the letter I sent:
Dear Shop Owner:
I recently made a mistake. I ran along The Trail on a hot day heavy with humidity, and I failed to bring along enough water to maintain my hydration. After this first mistake, I unfortunately made another. I invited myself into your shop and made myself at home with a cup and some water. I did not ask. I took. And for that arrogantly disrespectful behavior, I apologize. I would like to take this opportunity to make right our exchange this past Saturday and to extend to you an invitation.
Sir, our conversation outside your shop confused me. After explaining that you couldn’t provide water for everyone on the trail, you turned down my offer to pay for the cup and the water. Perhaps you mistook my sincerity. Perhaps other nonpaying patrons have accosted your belief in the human spirit. I fear that I contributed to your future responses to needy trailblazers, and I would like to offer a suggestion.
The cost of running a business is daunting, particularly considering the rising costs of all things related to your shop. As someone who has enjoyed The Trail 10 Saturdays already this year with more to come as I prepare for an upcoming marathon, I see your proximity to the trail as a blessing to your business. There are few businesses along the trail and even fewer who might be considered approachable by patrons enjoying the path. I ask that you might see us as not only patrons of the trail, but potential customers to your business.
I see an opportunity to advertise your services without much effort or expense. On any given Saturday there are individuals, pairs, groups of all ages passing by your business. Without a doubt, we drive cars that require fill-ups or maintenance. We may not be looking for a full service gas station during our exercise, but you can brand your name and inspire loyalty by opening your doors to us.
You offer Styrofoam cups of coffee to your current patrons. Perhaps an additional stack of clear cups could be made available for those same customers who might enjoy water – or for those potential customers coming in from the trail seeking refreshment. A flyer reminding us to return in the future listing a few unique or exciting services available is an inexpensive way to advertise to those staying and those not staying that day. Kindness offered today truly may lead to a return paying visit in the future. I would venture to say most people along the trail do not enter your store. For those who do enter, you have an opportunity to encourage them to return or to send them running away, never to return.
Perhaps I could take this a step further with a trail slogan and a cooler of 8oz. bottles of water offered just on ‘hot’ Saturdays. What an opportunity you have to advertise inexpensively and to inspire customer loyalty before even selling one gallon of gas or one pint of motor oil with a sign alongside the water reading:
Sheen Park Automotive
Mr. Shop Owner, I hope to turn this Saturday morning exchange into an opportunity for growth and learning. I certainly plan to prepare better with more water and to ask versus assume that I might be welcomed into a store when I have not prepared well. I do hope that you will accept my apology for Saturday’s exchange. I also hope that you might consider my suggestions as opportunities for yourself and your business.
*name changed to protect 'the innocent'
If you are still reading, then I commend you. Perhaps you are asking yourself why Josh Hamilton is my hero tonite? Josh glorified God in spite of not being the winner of this evening's Homerun Derby for the All-Star game. And in my book, that makes Him a winner. He made a bigger impression than the over-all winner tonite. God didn't send Gideon with 10,000 men. He sent Gideon with 300 to fight the mighty and vast Midianites. He did so so that no one would boast. Instead, He would be glorified.
Has God called you to glorify Him when your flesh screams foul? Has He asked you to find His grace by learning and growing from an uncomfortable situation - or perhaps from a comfortable, even mundane lifestyle? Has He asked you to fight something bigger than you alone can face?
He's there to help. To comfort and to strengthen. To be asked and to answer.
To God be the glory. And may I be His vessel.