“Have a minute?” the manager asked.
I was just leaving the grocery store when he stopped me.
“I discovered we have a mutual friend.”
“My daughter Dee.”
He could see the puzzled look on my face.
“She goes to Prom.”
I had to think for a minute. “Oh yeah I know who she is.”
“She’s getting excited about it.”
“I just wanted to tell you how much it means to her. It’s the highlight of her year.”
“Thank you, your timing is perfect,” I said. “Today’s been rough. Some folks got mad at me about our rules. I try to have thick skin but sometimes it’s hard.”
“Well that’s why I wanted to tell you how much it means to Dee.”
“That makes my day.”
Leaving the store, I found a dime. When I reached to pick it up, I felt like the Holy Spirit said, keep it all in perspective. There will always be a small percentage of people who don’t mind being difficult. Don’t let them get to you. With dimes being the smallest coin I find I liked the word picture. I brought it home and decided to put it near my bathroom sink. That way at the end of the day I can rehearse this thought.
During the first couple weeks of Prom season I was doing pretty good and then after a particularly long day two caregivers got to me. I’d had to call both to explain the rules (again) after they’d registered more people than we allow. On any given day, I have to follow-up with about a third of the folks that register not because they don’t understand the rules but because they don’t like them. I can hear myself saying, “I’m sorry but for every caregiver I say yes to I’m saying no to a guest?” I hate that I throw the gratuitous apology in. I’m sorry for what—making room for as many guests as possible? Keeping people safe?
Most folks accept this and say something to the effect that they just want to watch their loved one enjoy the evening. I get this. My youngest son never went to any of his high school dances. He found the whole idea too overwhelming and was intimidated by the social skills it’d require. It took me three years of organizing this alternative prom to get him to try it. Once he did, I couldn’t get him off the dance floor.
The word magical is so overused in today’s vernacular that I hate using it, but I can’t find a better word to describe Prom. It is indeed magical. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to seeing a unicorn fly through the sky. I love heading up the team of folks that makes it happen, however with that responsibility comes the responsibility of saying no.
In one of the phone calls that got to me, the caregiver I spoke with bragged about “arguing with us every year” and sneaking someone in. “I think your rules are stupid,” he said. “I appreciate that you do this but honestly you don’t get it.”
I almost bit my tongue off. When I hung up, I stormed around my house telling him everything I wanted to say to but chose not to. I think I hurt the dog’s ears with some of my curse words. When I calmed down, I went upstairs to get ready for bed and saw the dime on my vanity and snickered at it. Yeah right, keep it all in perspective. Ha! God you don’t know how hard that is.
The next day I’m at the market and I run into the manager again. “How’s it going with Prom?” he asks.
“Oh man, somebody got to me last night. Not a guest they’re never the problem. It was a caregiver.”
“I’m sorry,” he says. “It seems like that’s the world today.”
“I swore after our last conversation I was going to keep my head on straight but I didn’t do so well with that.”
“People can make that hard, can’t they?”
I went to check-out feeling like I’d failed at remembering what God had challenged me to do—keep it in perspective. When I got to the register I had to stop abruptly before stepping on a dime shining at me like a star.
I reached to pick it up and the message that came with it was, you haven’t failed at anything. You never lost your perspective the folks being difficult did. They’ve lost sight of the big picture in favor of the picture they want. It’s totally fair for you to feel beat up. That’s not a failure, giving in would be.
So much was packed in this dime it started to feel like a silver dollar in my palm. I came home and put it next to the other dime on my vanity and felt like the insight was priceless. Grace under pressure is what God is calling me to, not having a Teflon veneer. “Perspective” isn’t about not letting the troublemakers get to me. It’s about remembering why I have to stand up to them. This lesson isn’t just for Prom season it’s for every season because….
What’s popular isn’t always right and what’s right isn’t always popular.
Knowing the difference between the two is all the perspective a person needs!